Books, Film, Etc

Friday, 30 March 2018

Coco, The Post + Black Panther *No Spoilers*



A film blog, bringing you film reviews  for the first time in about 6 months. Consider yourselves blessed. I hope to be doing these quicker reviews/thoughts of all the *new* films I see this year. I'm about 12 films behind but ya know, better to start somewhere !

Coco
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Pixar have raised the bar yet again in their latest offering, Coco. Set in Mexico, Coco tells the story of Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), a boy who loves music. His great great grandfather however abandoned his family to become a renowned musician, embittering his wife and daughter who as a result, ban music from their family. Miguel therefore can only play his guitar in secret, learning from old video tapes of his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. This changes when the Day of the Dead comes around and he plucks up the courage to play publicly for the first time at the festival. His grandmother however broke his guitar in anger, after discovering he's been playing music this entire time which leaves him in need of a guitar for his performance. In a stroke of genius, he decides to borrow Ernesto de la Cruz's from the town museum. But guys, the guitar is magical ! One strum and he's thrown into the Land of the Dead where, with the help of some unexpected friends and his dead family members, he must escape before dawn else he'll be stuck there forever.

What ensues next, you won't see coming. Coco is so many things. It's about a boy who just loves music and wants to play it and be seen, it's a full on family soap opera with good.juicy.twists, it's about the importance of family, it's about mortality and where we go when we die and; all of this is presented to us with breathtakingly intricate stunning visuals and music that honours the culture and language and folklore of Mexico ! Big sentence right there.

Coco took me through a roller coaster of emotions: I laughed, I caught feelings, I sang, I gasped - genuinely one of the most enjoyable cinema experiences I've had in a long time - I cannot fault this film. Best Disney film to date. That's right, I said it. And yes, better than Toy Story I have no idea why people still ask, as if there aren't about 10 Disney films better than Toy Story and Finding Nemo smh.

The Post
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Set in 60's America, The Post follows editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and The Washington Post publish Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep) as they try to publish The Pentagon Papers and consequently expose 3 decades worth of government secrets. Doing so could lead to The Washington Post being shut down and, themselves and their entire team thrown into prison. While they're debating whether or not to print, they're also racing against The New York Times. All these elements together perhaps explain why the film marketed itself as a political thriller and for the most part , it does just that.

The Post will no doubt remind audiences of 2015 Oscar winning film, Spotlight in that both films are centred on newspaper exposes, set around the time period and even share the same screenwriters. And while all of this is evident, it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the film ! Like Spotlight, this film relies quite heavily on the meticulousness of looking through documents and waiting on phone calls to drive the drama - something it does really well. What separates the two were perhaps the hallmarks of all Steven Spielberg films: the dramatic music, the stars and an emotive central theme - the press being  an incredible force and essential to a democratic society because it keeps powers in check and protects all citizens. While the latter may to an extent be true, all these elements together came across as slightly heavy handed way.

Black Panther
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The internet is very surprised that Black Panther is a. one of the highest grossing superhero films of all time and b. one of the highest grossing films ... ever. But Marvel Studios would maybe rather you forget was that when deciding which superhero would start the cinematic universe, they went with the lesser known Iron Man, over Black Panther which was then Marvel's best selling comic book character. Probably because back then, that would've seemed preposterous. A risk. Not commercially viable. Maybe a fear audiences wouldn't "connect" to the characters.

And you know what, I'm glad we had to wait because it really feels like the stars aligned for this film to get made: from Roxane Gay and Ta Nehisi Coates rewriting the comics to it landing in the lap of Ryan Coogler who takes such care and time in creating characters with humanity (find his back catalogue and watch everything).

In the end what we got was a film that celebrates the Africa diaspora; black women being strong, intelligent, beautiful, funny and unapologetically black; fleshed out characters; a sharp script;a superhero film with a damn good (looking #jokes #kinda) villain and we know how rare they are; a superhero film with a third act that didn't lag (who'd have thought I'd see the day) and as the numbers suggest, one of the best films ever made.

Side note to all of this, I also went through about 12 different emotions in the lead up to watching this film. Firstly one of my friends bailed because she didn't want to sit in the front row ... does it matter?! Have we not all been waiting over a year to see this?! Then a "friend" made a remark about having superhero fatigue and this film really just being for black people (same "friend" then watched it later and said it was amazing *eye roll*). Then I nearly didn't get a ticket because the website was acting up and I had to call - never done that before. And the guy on receiving end was taking his time in booking my ticket - at this point there were 2 tickets left and a friend I was going with already had one so you know, stress. And thennnn I got to the cinema super early and was all of a sudden really emotional to see so many black people and families turn out for this film! Emotional as if I made this film myself haha. As a regular cinema attendee, it only just dawned on me that I'm normally one of the very few/sometimes only person of colour in a cinema room. And to see a film that includes everyone was so beautiful. 

Anyway Black Panther, a cultural phenomenon. Go and watch it if you haven't already.

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