black girl blogs · Movie Reviews · reviews

Mr. Soul! A Variety Show Revolutionary

For many Black people the late night and variety programs that come on cable tv don’t resonate nor interest them. They’re overwhelmingly white and not nearly as accommodating as they claim to be. This is true now in 2020 and has been true as far back as variety television has been a thing. Of course, there has been the occasional show that managed to make it on air. Such as The Nat King Cole Show, the time when Harry Belafonte hosted The Tonight Show and The Arsenio Hall Show. But none have been quite as successful or impactful as Ellis Haizlip’s Soul!, which was the first of its kind.

In the late 60’s, during a time of civil unrest, Ellis Haizlip decided that he wanted to put together something that spoke to and for the Black community. He knew that Black people needed to see themselves on television doing more than being beaten and arrested by the police. He wanted to spread the Black culture, the music, dance, song and most importantly the love. And so out of that idea was born Soul!, a taped variety show that would highlight only Black people and the work that was being done by those that were for the cause.

Now over 5 decades later, Ellis’s niece Melissa Haizlip brings audiences an in depth view of her uncle, his brilliance and the show that would forever change how Black people could be presented to the nation in real time. He knew that his show could be a comfort and a place to look for inspiration if it was done right. And he was so committed to doing it right, Ellis even ended up hosting the show despite never wanting to be on camera. He was dedicated to making Soul! feel like coming home after a hard day of being Black in a white world.

From its very first episode the last one, Soul! was revolutionary. It never pulled any of its punches, it let Black people express themselves as freely and as widely as they wanted. The concept of a space where Black people could gather to celebrate art, music, dance and song while learning as well gained traction fast and soon enough everyone was clamoring for a guest spot. From Patti LaBelle and the Bluebells to Stevie Wonder, The Delfonics, Ashford and Simpson, Al Greene and Gladys Knight; they all appeared on the show early in their careers. For many, Ellis gave them their first tv gig and was an essential part of the foundation that helped build them up. But he didn’t just stop at the music side of things, Ellis also loved poetry. It is because of him that poetry on tv has reached the extend it has today. Before Soul! it was nearly impossible to find Black poetry on screen, it just wasn’t done. However once Soul! began, it became expected to see a Black poet be given the spotlight. And the poetry that was read on air was constantly life changing.

The dedication to creating what Ellis referred to as a “Black love fest” pulled Black talent and creativity from all over. It was on Soul! that the famous James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni interview happen, two hours of nothing but them sitting having a conversation. It was simple, but revolutionary. Ellis even sat down with notoriously homophobic Muslim leader Louis Farraken, though Haizlip himself was an openly gay man. He asked the Muslims leader strategic, in-depth questions, let him express himself without interruption and even shook the man’s hand at the end of the interview. Ellis truly believed that all Black voices had some kind of value.

Of course, nothing as good for the culture as Soul! was could ever be allowed to last. Not in today’s climate and not in the climate of the 60’s and 70’s. It struck nerves too close to white people in power, especially President Nixon. Who at the time was doing everything in his power to control the media. Knowing that he could not pressure Soul! off the air directly, he instead came down hard on the studios and forced budget cuts that left Black television out to dry. In March 1973, Soul! aired its final episode and even though his friends wanted him to fight for the show Ellis Haizlip closed it with dignity and grace. Whether he knew the lasting impact the show would have or not, Ellis was content with the work it had done and the people it reached. And he never stopped doing everything he could to bring Black culture to the forefront.

The best thing about Mr. Soul! isn’t the way it pulls you in and changes your perspective on what variety/late night shows could be, though that is a huge plus; the best thing about this documentary is the way it reaffirms the quietly kept fact that Black culture is the blueprint. There is no denying it, what Black people create others either rush to replicate or go to extreme lengths to destroy. The president of the United States felt so threatened by a television show that he put in extra time to make sure it was taken off the air. If that’s not power then I don’t know what is. Black culture is powerful and no one seemed to understand that more than Ellis Haizlip.

Mr. Soul! is currently virtually streaming. Check out mrsoulmovie.com to find a stream!

10/10

-Danyi

P.S. if you can, help a sis out and buy me dinner. Cashapp: $danyi13 any and everything is appreciated.

black girl blogs · Movie Reviews · reviews

The Forty Year Old Version: A Delightful, Emotional, Much Needed Film

When you’re a creative, you always feel like you’re running out of time to make it. You feel like you have to make it by a certain age or else you’re a failure. It’s an immense amount of pressure that we not only put upon ourselves but that others do too. And it sucks, especially for Black women who have to fight twice as hard to get anywhere in life. In Radha Blank’s debut film “The Forty Year Old Version” she grabs hold of the stigma of being “too old”, wrestles it to the ground and proves that when you believe in yourself you can do anything.

At 39 years old, our protagonist Radha feels lost in her life as she struggles to stay afloat. She has dreams and they’re always dangling right out of her reach. When she was younger, she had potential and was a rising star in the playwright world. But she fell off and hasn’t been able to correctly get back on since. It happens. Radha isn’t ready to give up though. While teaching a group of rowdy teens as a way to pay bills, she and her best friend, since high school, Archie try to get her career back on track and help her find a way to a place that makes her feel good.

After a less than stellar attempt at networking to get her play produced, Radha shifts her gaze from theater to music and decides that she wants to make a mixtape. Absolutely no one is supportive of her, which isn’t surprising but still, Radha finds herself someone willing to produce beats for her to rap over and she sets off on her newest adventure: becoming a rapper. She even finds someone to not only understand her on a romantic level, but on a level of grief as well. D may seem like just another rapping nigga but after hanging out a few times he proves to be the most solid person she could have in her life.

While it could be assumed that The Forty Year Old Version is a story about making your dreams come true later in life, it’s really more about coming to know who are and not settling for anything less than what you deserve. Radha Blank took her own experiences, shaped them a bit to fit the narrative of the film, and used them to shine some light on just how hard it is for Black women to gain any kind of traction in the world. We have to bend and stretch and compromise ourselves to be even given chances, while others are able to simply float into a space and be accepted right away.

My favorite thing about this film is the way it allows a Black woman to be a whole person. Radha is not perfect, sometimes she’s not even nice. But she’s allowed to experience her emotions, dwell on her failures and stew in her anger. She makes mistakes and she’s a bit of a chaotic mess but she’s trying. Underneath everything she’s got going on in her life, Radha is still that little mommy’s girl who looked up to everything her mom did. She just wants to make her mother proud, even if it’s in spirit only. And that’s valid. It’s beautiful to be able to watch a Black woman unpack her own story without the threat of unnecessary violence or death lurking in the shadows as “plot”.

One of the best thing about The Forty Year Old Version is the way that seamlessly blends its comedy into the serious tone the film takes by being in black and white. By all accounts, it is a serious movie. Radha is struggling, in some aspects she’s failing. Teaching just to not be homeless while drowning in the theater world. Her play is good but to get it on the stage to be seen she has to comprise it to the point she hates her own work. Honestly, this movie should enrage everyone who has ever had a dream taken and twisted into a shadow of what it is to be; but instead when the credits roll the audience is left with a sense of understanding and comfort. Radha isn’t the huge successful star she dreams of being but she’s not so restlessly unhappy that it hurts. And that’s all I can ever want for Black women, to be in a place where they don’t have settle.

9.5/10

The Forty Year Old Version is now available on Netflix.

-Danyi

If you can, pls donate to my CashApp or Venmo – Cashapp: $danyi13 || Venmo: @itsjustdanyi

black girl blogs · Movie Reviews · reviews

Queen & Slim: Black Love In Its Truest Form

Not often am I’m moved to the point of tears by a movie. Very rarely does a film make me want to stand up in the theater and pace. Never has a piece of cinema made my heart pound in my chest from the moment it starts until the credits roll. Queen & Slim is now the only exception to this.

When a young Black couple goes on a rocky first date, they figure they probably won’t ever see each other again. Until they are pulled over by a police officer with a stick up his ass who decides that even though they haven’t done anything wrong, he’s going to press them. The situation escalates and the cop ends up dead. In a split decision, the couple decides to make a run for it. No use in just waiting around for the other cops to come and shoot them dead where they stand. Thus they are propelled into a journey of a lifetime and fall in love along the way.

Admittedly, I’m very wary of “realistic Black movies”. Simply because we always spend the whole movie hurt or degraded or being made to suffer under the illusion that some kind of pain is the only way we as people will find joy. I want very much to one day make fantasy Black films with Black witches and Black vampires and Black werewolves and Black existence that is beyond how much hurt we can take. However, something about the Queen & Slim trailer caught my attention. Something about the love between Queen and her Slim made me yearn to see this film. No matter how it ended. So since June, I have been hyping myself, and others, to see this movie.

The moment the film started, I was in awe. From the lighting of their dark skin being perfect the whole time to the soundtrack and score soothing us along as we run with them. In the hardest moments, I felt comforted by the way they took solace in each other. The funny moments of the film weren’t there to give us a break from the urgency of the situation, they flowed right at its side and showed that even in the bleakest of times Black people can find genuine joy. Whether or not that’s a good thing is still up for debate.

It’s not just the big messages of the film that stuck with me. In fact, it’s the smaller details and the nearly overlooked themes that I find myself thinking back on. The way Queen had certain “things” that got on her nerves, and how she never really truly let her guard down. She softened towards Slim of course but the sense of being closed off stayed with her the entire time. Her need to take charge from the moment the cop was killed and how she denied any kind of comfort for about the first half of the movie plays very well into the strong Black woman trope that is so often dropped on us. With Slim, I was very intrigued by the reactions he got from the audience. There were many instances were Slim’s masculinity was put into question or taunted and teased. And it disappointed but didn’t surprise me the way the audience laughed at him. Toxic masculinity runs rampant in the Black community and to me, it was portrayed in a very real form with him.

What sticks with me the most about Queen & Slim is how the Black Community is portrayed in such an authentic form. We take care of each other, we look out for each other, we encourage each other. Seeing Queen and Slim taken in with open arms across several state lines filled my heart. The way people were doing everything they could to protect them and were rooting for them. The implication that all we need, as a community, is to see people who look like us stand up and stay standing will resonate with me for a very long time. I also really loved that the issue of not all skin folk are kinfolk was addressed and not just swept under the rug. Black people may all be connected but we are not all a monolith, we do not all believe the same things. And we most certainly do not all agree with each other. Sometimes, we even turn against each other for the sake of a dollar bill. And that’s something that cannot be ignored about us. On the flip side, a part of me really appreciated that help came to Queen and Slim from non-Black folks too. Because even though it can seem like everyone is against Black people, there are those of different races who want to help us, who want us to be great. Who believe in us.

With a runtime of 2 hours and 12 minutes, there are one or two places where the pacing felt off. The film is a slow burn that seems to zoom by. Small details that were overlooked or sped by so quickly that they didn’t register to me until later. These issues are minor in the grand scale of things. This movie made me feel some type of way, it kissed me sweetly and held me close when things got tough. Jodie Turner-Smith absolutely commands every scene she’s in. Acting opposite Daniel Kaluuya, who is a fantastic actor in his own right, the two weave a beautiful relationship that is intimate and familiar.

I admit I knew how Queen & Slim would end. There truly is no other way for it to conclude, but it’s the experience and the journey to the end that makes the film worthwhile. I’ve been a fan of Lena Waithe since her Emmy winning Masters of None episode and I knew of Melina Matousakas from her Grammy-winning music videos. So I was all in with this film immediately after learning of it. I expected the film to beautiful. What I got was not only beauty but a feeling of my existence being justified. I left the theater in tears but my heart felt lighter.

9.5/10

-Danyi

black girl blogs · Movie Reviews · reviews · Uncategorized

Blindspotting: A beautiful insight of the ugly struggle

Words are hard. By themselves or strung together in a sentence. They’re tricky. Some of them have several meanings while others only have one definitive meaning. They can be exchanged like currency and thrown like punches. Both universal and limited. There just might be nothing more complicated than words. But there also might be nothing more beautiful than words. When used correctly and with imagination, they create works of art. Weaving colorful pictures into our minds without dipping a brush into paint, words compiled together to make scripts are often exquisite and give us compelling stories. The best movies have the best scripts. And Blindspotting, written by Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs is one of 2018’s best.

Collin has three days left on his probation. He’s made it an entire year without any incidents and if he can make it through these last three days he’ll be free. As free as possible, with him being a tall black male with long braided hair that is. One would think since Collin has made it this far that his last three days of probation would be a breeze. But life always seems to have a way of making what should be easy, hard. And when your best friend is loud, volatile and ready to fight at the drop of a hat; staying out of trouble is more complicated than people realize. Miles has been Collin’s best friend since they were 11 years old, they work at Commander Moving and spend every day together. Collin even picks Miles up in the morning, drops him back home at night and makes sure their time cards are properly clocked in and out. They’re like two peas in a pod. However, where Collin is laid back and chill, Miles is abrasive and ignorant. Usually, it’s reflected back on Collin before it is Miles and even though that isn’t Miles fault, it eventually becomes the backbone of their fall out. Collin is, more often than not, the one who pays for Miles’s foolishness.

Make no mistake though, Miles isn’t stupid. He’s just very much a town nigga, he’s proud of his Oakland roots and he’s ready to defend himself at all times because of his pale skin in a sea of brownness. He’s had to be this way to survive but now with the gentrification of Oakland, more and more white people are starting to show up. Which makes Miles look like a poser to those that don’t know him. And there’s nothing worse than being considered a poser.

While Miles deals with the possibility of being seen as a transplant, Collin quietly suffers from PTSD after witnessing the police shoot an unarmed black man. Over the next couple of days, Collin is haunted by the incident. In the back of his mind, there’s the constant blaring of the car alarm that went off when the black man was shot. The red light flashes in his mind when goes for his morning runs and when he sleeps at night. Any time Collin sees a cop car his world suddenly zeros in on it. He’s is now always acutely aware of his surroundings and always on guard. He may be out of jail, but in many ways, Collin is still a prisoner. Which is only proven even more every time he goes home to the Halfway House. In this house, he’s nothing more than another convicted felon. The parole officer who runs the house, James, cares not for Collin’s personal life or feelings. His main focus is whether or not Collin has done his assigned chore of cleaning bathrooms each day. He tells Collin that he’s assigned these chores so that it can be determined if he can follow simple orders or not. As if how well Collin can clean a bathroom is going to stop the police from messing with him out on the streets.

It’s in the usage of words that Blindspotting finds its home. It’s a beautiful film visually but it’s the dialogue and the script that give it that little boost above the rest. Shown amazingly in the parking lot argument that Collin and Miles have after Miles loses his temper at a party. It’s a blow-up that’s been a long time coming, the two have clearly never had a real fight in their friendship before. To Miles, Collin is acting brand new. Almost like he’s trying to fit in with those that are gentrifying their home. He’s right in the sense that Collin is different since having gone to jail. But Miles is wrong to think that the change was something Collin did willingly and is just doing to try to fit in. Collin had to change to survive. He’s on police radar already for just being a black man but now he’s on it even more because he’s a convicted felon. He had to change so he doesn’t end up dead or back in jail. Miles doesn’t get that.

Throughout the whole movie, Collin has been calling Miles nigga. He refers to him as one constantly, it passes his lips with such ease and Miles just goes with it. He’s never said it back, he is white after all. But he hasn’t ever stopped Collin from calling him one either. It’s addressed however when emotions are high and tensions boiling over, Collin demands that Miles say it back to him. Collin wants to hear Miles say “yeah, my nigga”, he wants to hear that word come out of his friend’s mouth. But Miles won’t say it. He’s white, therefore he technically isn’t a nigga and can’t ever be one. And Miles knows that. Most importantly he knows it’s disrespectful. Even though Collin has given him permission to say it, which is all it takes for some nonblack folks. Miles knows that him saying nigga would be disrespectful to Collin. But he has it put into a whole new perspective when Collin tells Miles that his actions, his ignorance and his gun-toting bullshit is what they (the police and white people) expect from Collin. Even when it’s clearly Miles who is the ghetto one, people still look to Collin to be right at his side acting the same way. Miles is the nigga that they are out here looking for, even though their eyes automatically seek Collin to slap that label onto.

I really like Blindspotting. The story, the character structure, the script and the attention to detail. It’s all amazingly well thought out. There are so many layers to the film that one viewing isn’t enough and even after seeing the film five times, I find myself picking up on new things that I missed before. It’s in the details the story is able to become such a powerhouse. From new futuristic houses sticking out between older traditional Oakland homes to the way transplants have no care for the natives. Or the fact that the man in charge of Collin at the halfway house is a black man who has absolutely no sympathy for him at all. Even the flashback of the fight that sent Collin to jail is packed full of details that help the present story that beings told now.

Collin and Miles’s relationship is one of the greatest details of the film, the way they understand each other. It’s in the structure of their friendship that makes all other dynamics connect and progress the film through its journey.

For example, a seemingly big part of Collin’s struggle is his ex-girlfriend, Val. She works the front desk at Commander Moving so Collin has to see her every day. They broke up when Collin went to jail and Val hasn’t forgiven him nor gotten over it. She still likes Collin but is too aggressive in her disapproval of certain parts of his lifestyle. Val constantly tells Collin that he needs to get rid of Miles, dismissing the fact that Miles is his best friend. His only friend from the looks of it. She wants Collin to want better for himself, but she can’t get past the fight that put Collin in jail and she won’t stop blaming Miles for it.

One thing I wish we could have gotten a little more of was Collin and Ashley. I wanted them to have a one on one conversation about the trauma of cops shooting black people. Her just asking him if he’s alright and then never bringing it up again or noticing Collin’s rapid decline was a little strange to me. She does have a whole child to care for so it’s not unrealistic for her to not notice, but it would have been nice all the same.

As a beginning filmmaker, Blindspotting is a film that I’m going to be studying for a long time. It’s a masterpiece and it’s beautiful but it’s also simple. It’s not complex or hard to follow and I think, in that, it’s able to build a strong storyline and even stronger characters. It’s a film that you can tell truly began in the writer’s room with a clear vision of what the message was going to be. And I love that. It makes me excited for the world of films and opens the possibility of what we could be seeing in the future. I’m especially excited to see what Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal do next. It promises to be, at the very least, a thought-provoking good time.

9.8/10

-Danyi

Movie Reviews · reviews · Uncategorized

Sorry To Bother You- The Movie We Need To Talk About

I like weird things. Weird movies, weird shows, weird books and even weird clothes. If it’s different, to me, I’m more than likely going to at least give it a chance. There are some things that get a little too weird for me but more often than not I back things that others side-eyed. I used to think being called weird was an insult, I used to think that I needed to hide my nerdiness and never talk about what I liked in a group of people. Now though, in my mid 20’s, being weird is the next cool trend and people are clamoring over themselves to try and earn the crown of “Most Weird”. I’ve watched people flock to shows and movies, claiming them to be the outstanding kind of weird. Most of them aren’t but it’s interesting to watch people suddenly want to be weird. There is something good that has come out of this trend though. Black people are finally getting to showcase our weirdness and we’re getting to be loud and proud while we do it. And it’s a beautiful thing.

When I was in college, a classmate introduced me to a band called The Coup. Their frontman, Boots Riley, had a different way about rapping that really spoke to me. The Coup had just realized their newest album “Sorry To Bother You” when they were brought to my attention. And I played the album out over late night study sessions and bus rides to campus. As time passed though the album was shifted from my regular rotation to being occasionally played and finally just being something that would play in the background when I shuffled all songs on my phone. So imagine my surprise when, years later, it’s announced that Boots Riley had written and directed a film titled “Sorry To Bother You”. I freaked out. Then I saw the trailer and freaked out again. From the trailer alone I could tell that this movie was going to be my kind of weird.

Sorry To Bother You tells the story of Cassius Green, a young man who’s slowly sinking in an “alt reality” where the world relies on capitalism to keep it afloat. He and his girlfriend Detroit, whose art is as stunning as she is, live in his uncle’s garage. Detroit works as a sign twirler while Cassius has just been hired as a telemarketer for RegalView. They may be poor but they’re happy. And they’re trying their best to keep away from the rapidly growing trend known as “Worry Free Homes”, a place where people work 14 hours a day and are packed together like sardines. But it’s marketed as a happy, almost retreat, like community where no one has worry about debt ever again. At RegalView, the goal is to call as many people as you can and sell encyclopedias to them. The more you sell, the more you’re paid. However, Cassius quickly learns that more often than not, the clients are going to hang up on him. And with this job being a commissions only one, his paychecks aren’t going to be as much as he wants them to be if they’re anything at all.

Eventually, an older black man named Langston takes pity on Cassius and tells him that if he wants to make any money he’ll have to start using his white voice. Cassius dismisses this at first, a push back against conforming to the man. However, Langston explains that what we consider a “white voice” isn’t really about the person being white. It’s about sounding like you’ve got everything under control, you have no worries and you’re just as successful as the person you’re talking to. And after he takes a call and demonstrates, Cassius realizes that he just might be onto something.

Just when Cassius is starting to get the hang of being a telemarketer that actually makes sales, he is pulled into a completely opposite direction when his friends on the call floor decide they’ve had enough. Led by the resilient and persistent Squeeze, the workers stage a protest during peak call times. They want to be paid for the work they do and not just used like mules to keep the company going. Both Detroit and Cassius’s best friend Sal are down to demand change but Cassius himself is hesitant because he knows that the bosses upstairs are watching him. He needs to be promoted to Power Caller, to keep his uncle from losing his house but he also doesn’t want to go against his friends and girlfriend.

When he is promoted, Cassius is given a taste of what life is like when people are actually paid for the work they do. He gets to see what it’s like to not have to struggle to live. But he also discovers what prices he must pay for this life, what immoral things he has to turn a blind eye to and the kind of person he has to become if he wants to do well in this new world. And it’s not until Cassius is invited to the owner of the company, Steve Lift’s annual party does he realize that maybe he’s working for truly evil people.

For the sake of spoilers, I won’t go much further into detail about what happens in the movie. However, I do want to look at some of the things that I took away from this movie and why I think it’s really important for everyone to see it.

To me, Sorry To Bother You, is one of the most profound movies I’ve ever seen. Its stance on capitalism is loud and clear, with the Worry Free Homes and the RegalView job being commission only instead of by the hour. The movie gives us a clear picture of what we will be like as a society soon. Some would even say we’re already there and STBY is just showing us how everything will play out. The Worry Free Homes are a glorified version of prisons and they are presented in a way that makes them seem far less toxic than they are. On the TV, the people who in the Homes are happy to be there. Happy to be doing the work and happy to literally be worry free. But because of their presentation, people don’t question the ethics. There’s a resistance, of course, a group named Left Eye spends a majority of their time defacing Worry Free adds and aiding protestors when they hold their rallies. However, society as a whole doesn’t care and isn’t outraged enough for anything to be done. So Worry Free Homes continue to be an okay thing. I wouldn’t call this much of stretch from our world today. We rely heavily on public outrage for things to get done and more often than not if you want something changed you’re more likely to be successful if you take the issue to Twitter than you are if you take it to Congress or the Government. Even when Cassius finally thinks he’s found a way to take down Worry Free and by extension of them RegalView, he learns that people only care if you have an answer to the problem. No one wants to help solve problems that don’t affect them directly.

Another theme that Sorry To Bother You focuses on is the idea that black people are often seen as mules. We are worked harder and longer than most and often the work ends up not mattering because the goal post continues to be moved or isn’t even for us to score goals in the first place. What I mean by this is, at first Cassius wanted to be promoted just so he could save his uncle’s home and not have to struggle anymore. That’s all he really wanted. When the higher-ups suddenly took an interest in him, he was moved up and looked at as someone who could build a bridge between two worlds. He was moved up because he’s a black man who is going against what other black people and people of color are doing. It did not escape me that Cassius and his boss Mr. Blank were the only black Power Callers. They were the “we’re clearly diverse” hill that RegalView would die on in case they ever needed to defend themselves for what they were doing. Cassius is good at being a telemarketer but it wasn’t just his skills that got him an invite to Steve Lift’s party, a familiar setting that black people in the workforce often find themselves in.

There are little things scattered throughout the movie that I enjoyed and also show us just how ridiculous but alarming things have become. From the most popular show on the air being about people beating each other up to the elaborate code that a Power Callers have to us in their elevator and even Cassius’s broke down bucket car. They may seem like an exaggeration but when you stop and think about it, they really aren’t. Society as a whole has changed into something that is quickly becoming toxic and if we continue to ignore it, we’ll only get worse.

It’s important that people see this movie because not only is it massively entertaining, it’s a movie that has something to say. It may say it weirdly and it may make a lot of people extremely uncomfortable but the message STBY is trying to get out is one we all need to hear. I’ve seen the movie three times now and each time the audience reactions are different. Everyone takes it differently, I was in one show where a person got up and left while at another everyone clapped when the credits rolled. It’s bringing up things that society wants us to ignore and just be okay with, and Sorry To Bother You is here to say fuck that. We need to pay more attention to what is happening and stop hiding behind good presentation and promises of a better life. Because the “better life” has a rule printed in the finest of fonts that it can only be given to a few.

I only have one worry about Sorry To Bother You, and that is, that the “shocking” visual revelation in the third act will overpower the messages the movie conveyed. I fear that people only take away from the movie the end result and not how the movie got to that end in the first place. The revelation is very shocking, don’t get me wrong but what’s even more shocking is the people only want to talk about that. It’s being called this years’ “Get Out” and that alone tells me that many people missed the memo. They can’t comprehend that this movie is nothing like Get Out, but because both films deal with race they think the two must be considered the same. Get Out was one thing, Sorry To Bother You is something completely different. They are not mutually exclusive. We can praise STBY without comparing it to any other film because honestly there is no other film like it. Boots Riley has created a space where weirdness can have a home but the weirdness isn’t exempt from real life problems. And I think that’s wonderful.

The cast makes the movie all the better. Lakeith Stanfield is quickly becoming the actor to watch and his embodiment of Cassius Green is fantastic. Tessa Thompson has us all falling in love with her soft-spoken but highly radical Detroit. While Steven Yeun gives Squeeze a ton of heart and makes you want to join the resistance just to make him proud. Armie Hammer and Omari Hardwick play the roles of the villains beautifully. Hammer’s Steve Lift is absolutely insane but his presentation and constant cheery attitude lets him get away with pretty much everything. While Hardwick’s Mr. Blank was one of my favorite things about the movie, he’s a villain in the sense that we don’t know much about him but his support of Steve Lift tells us he’s in this for himself. I only wish we could have gotten to see more of Cassius’s uncle Surge because I love Terry Crews.

I recommend that everyone see this movie. Especially in a theater with others so that you can have this transformative experience with other people. I hope that it’s successful and Boots Riley is able to make more films, he’s clearly got a lot to say about things we need hear. Sorry To Bother You isn’t ahead of its time, rather it’s arrived right when we need it.

-Danyi