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This Month in Film #1

Updated: Dec 9, 2018

‘BlacKkKlansman’: The Most Insightful Movie of 2018

By Jared Miller

Quick disclaimer: BlacKkKlansman is rated R for strong language and violence, which may prevent some of our readers from being allowed to view it.

BlacKkKlansman is about an African-American man and a Jewish man, both of them police detectives, infiltrating the Klu Klux Klan (KKK). The African-American man, named Ron Stallworth, calls the KKK and asks to be a member. He then asks the Jewish man, named Flip Zimmerman, to go to the meetings and pose as Ron.

BlacKkKlansman is an extremely entertaining movie. It has a terrific cast, a fabulous director, and a fascinating plot, which is based on a true story. BlacKkKlansman was directed by Spike Lee, the best-ever director of informative movies (in my opinion). He is known for directing Malcolm X and She’s Gotta Have it. He also created the story for NBA 2K16. BlacKkKlansman is, in my opinion, his best movie. He was given a terrific script, and he executed the movie perfectly.

Ron Stallworth, portrayed by John David Washington, is the main character and plays it beautifully. He is the son of Denzel Washington, a well-established actor. However, unlike his father, John was essentially unheard of before this movie. He has starred in Dwayne Johnson’s show Ballers, but that was his only starring role. This movie jump-started his career. He has some great scenes in this movie, and I think casting an actor that was mainly unheard of was the right choice for this role. Perhaps due to his great acting in this film, his fame is sure to continue growing.

The second main character, Flip Zimmerman, played by Adam Driver, nails his role. He is known for his performances as Kylo Ren in Star Wars VII, and VIII, and his performance on the comedy series, Girls, portraying Adam Sackler. In this movie, he has a few comedic lines, but he mostly plays Flip as a serious man. He essentially has two personalities in this movie. The first he uses when he is acting like a Klansman, being serious, but also making racist “jokes” about African-Americans and Jews. In this persona, he is forced to mask the fact that he is Jewish, because if the Klan finds out, he will get severely injured or, most likely, killed. His other personality comes alive when he is around his coworkers at the police station. In this persona, he does not hide the fact that he is Jewish and jokes around a lot.

Overall, this movie is exceptional. You should definitely see it. However, you should know that the material is very heavy, and it is not a happy movie. It is informative, but not overwhelmingly so, because it is still incredibly entertaining, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. If I were to evaluate it on a 10-point scale, I would give BlacKkKlansman an 8.5.

‘The Predator’ (2018): Worst Good Movie of the Year

By Riley Roche

Quick disclaimer, Predator (2018) is rated R for strong language and violence, which may prevent some of our readers from being allowed to view it.

After a Predator space vessel crashes on Earth, the government takes possession of Predator technology. Another Predator comes to Earth to recover this technology, and a boy, who unknowingly took Predator gear, becomes the target. Furthermore, a group of disgraced soldiers and a government scientist are tasked with taking down the Predator, while also running from the government due to what they’ve seen.

The Predator (2018) is an awful movie. It was a shameless attempt by Fox to cash in on some people’s nostalgia. Predator had average actors with mediocre screenplay. This film was the most tonally confusing film since 2017’s Justice League. The Predator was going for a serious, gritty, and violent tone, yet all of the characters were written as comic relief. Despite these flaws, I would still recommend it for watching when you have some free time. Predator’s director, Shane Black, knows what he's doing. Black’s IMDb credits include being the writer and director for 2016’s The Nice Guys (starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling) and for 2013’s Iron Man 3 (starring Robert Downey Jr.). He also played a part in the original Predator. Shane Black knows how to make enjoyable and fun action movies, but he was given a tonally confused script, with which he created a stupid, but fun, R-rated movie that has some cool action scenes.

The character played by Keegan Michael Key, who is well-known for the internet comedy sketch show, Key and Peele, is given these incredibly predictable lines that don’t fit the movie, but work due to Keegan’s great delivery and the shock value of disrupting the tone of the film. Overall, there was one solid performance to come out of the movie. Sterling K. Brown was great. He captured the rough, dark feeling the movie had, while also the quippy and dumb tone it, too, possessed. People shouldn’t go into this movie expecting Oscar-winning acting or an emotionally inspiring screenplay. Instead, sit back, relax, and prepare for the most “so-bad-it’s-good” movie of 2018 thus far. Overall, I’d give Predator a 4 out of 10 for its incredibly lackluster screenplay, acting, and plot, as well as for its great comedic delivery.

First ‘Captain Marvel’ Trailer Released

By Alec Plante

This month, Marvel Studios released the trailer for the 21st movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), 2019’s Captain Marvel, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. The movie received its first official trailer on September 18, prompting loads of excitement from Marvel fans. The trailer introduces us to Captain Marvel, who is supposedly the most powerful hero in the MCU. Captain Marvel looks to bridge the gap between 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4. The movie will display the history between Nick Fury and Carol Danvers and explain the end credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War. The trailer features Brie Larson as the movies titular character, Carol Danvers, who obtains superpowers and is captured by the intergalactic army of the Kree, a militaristic and highly advanced alien race. The movie seems to take place as Carol crash lands back on Earth in the ‘90s. Carol, or Captain Marvel, seems to have lost her memory throughout the trailer, and it appears like, back on Earth, she is remembering glimpses of her childhood and her time in the Air Force. The main villains of the movie are the shape-shifting aliens called the Skrull. Their mission is to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D, the government organization dedicated to law enforcement, counter-terrorism, and espionage. S.H.I.E.L.D was also the organization that assembled the Avengers in 2012’s The Avengers.

Captain Marvel looks to blend the realism and gritty themes of previous Captain America movies with the god-like power of Thor. Personally, I am quite excited for Captain Marvel, as the ending of Avengers: Infinity War left me interested in the next Avengers movie, and, hopefully, Captain Marvel can close the gap between Avengers 3 and Avengers 4 and still be a great stand-alone movie. I am, however, doubtful of the directors, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, as these two have never directed a movie on this scale. Moreover, none of their previous work has been outstanding. This does not detract from my expectations for the movie, though, as sometimes director’s most recent work is far better than their earlier films. James Gunn, for example, bombed with the live-action movie Scooby Doo, yet struck gold with 2014’s hit Guardians of the Galaxy. Captain Marvel has an incredibly difficult job to do by linking the two Avengers films. Yet, after the trailer, many fans, including myself, are optimistic and excited for Captain Marvel.

‘Venom’: What to Expect

By Riley Roche

Spider-Man is a staple of American superhero pop culture. With Spider-Man being so popular, the characters associated with him are as well. Enter Sony. After witnessing the success of 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, which was directed by Jon Watts, the people at Sony believe they can create a Spider-Man universe without Spider-Man. The first movie to test the water of this film universe is Venom, which was just released on October 5. Venom is directed by Ruben Fleischer, who is most well-known for directing 2013’s Gangster Squad. This is Fleischer’s first high-budget movie and could be a great launching point for his career.

Unfortunately for Fleischer, the odds are stacked against this movie. The first teaser trailer for Venom, released in February of 2018, was met with mixed reviews due to the absence of Spider-Man, but most, including myself, were looking forward to what this movie could offer. Now, two trailers and an official poster later, most have written this movie off as dead on arrival. Personally, I think taking a character who’s whole origin and motivation is based around Spider-Man and having to create a new origin where Spidey is not featured is an incredibly daunting task for the screenwriters.

Overall, do I think making a universe of Spider-Man villains without Spider-Man is a good idea? No. Yet, I think a Venom movie is worth a try. Sony could have found a diamond in the rough with Fleischer, and Tom Hardy is an incredible actor with experience playing a comic villain in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. Additionally, he has experience playing a conflicted protagonist in various movies, such as 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Venom could turn out to be a gritty and interesting new take on superhero movies, but I suggest not setting your hopes sky high due to Sony’s previously poor record with superhero movies.

Back to Their Roots: Disney Releases ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ Trailer

By Jared Miller

Disney has been producing new movies every year, and they don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. At least once per year, dating back to 2013, they have made one movie or more that is either a remake or a sequel to an original classic. In 2018, one such movie is the sequel to the beloved kid’s movie, Mary Poppins. The spin-off is titled, Mary Poppins Returns. In the sequel, Mary Poppins comes back to visit Michael Banks and his sister Jane and to care for Michael’s children. Mary Poppins Returns is directed by Rob Marshall. He has directed movies such as 2002’s Chicago and 2014’s Into the Woods. Therefore, he knows how to make great movie musicals.

There are a few reprised roles from the original movie, such as Mary Poppins, Michael and Jane Banks, and Mr. Dawes, Jr., but most of the characters are new. Many of these new characters seem quite exciting. The new character which is getting the most buzz is Lin Manuel Miranda’s character, Jack. Jack will most likely be similar to Bert’s character in the original, hanging out with Mary and the kids, being energetic and outgoing, and “going with the flow.” Also, considering Lin Manuel Miranda is a Broadway star, I would not be surprised if he breaks into song once or twice. Another new character is Meryl Streep’s Topsy. We don’t know much about her character, but we do know she is going to perform an original song that will shift kids’ perspectives on the world. The last time Meryl Streep partnered with Rob Marshall was for Into the Woods, which was a tremendous success. All in all, this movie seems to have a lot of potential, and is mixing in some of the old with some of the new.

First ‘The Joker’ Behind the Scenes Content

By Riley Roche

Earlier in September, the official photos of Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a washed-up comedian who will become the legendary DC Comics villain, the Joker, in 2019’s Joker, were published. The film is to be directed by Todd Phillips. The first photo was published by the director, which showed Joaquin Phoenix in character. After this, fans received a plethora of photos and one video from the film news website, JustJared. In these newly-released photos, we see Phoenix as Fleck, dressed in average attire, sporting a long, dark brown haircut, and interacting with a clown who could possibly be his fellow employee from a comedy show. We also received a video which shows Phoenix in the same clothing as before smoking a cigarette and seemingly having a conversation with the clown shown in earlier set of photos. Thus far, all of these leaks have taken place in a similar setting with grimy concrete walls and a lot of graffiti.

Also released was another video of Phoenix showing, for the first time, himself in the iconic Joker makeup and green hair. Unlike previous renditions of the Clown Prince of Crime on screen, this Joker seems to be sporting a more common design for clown makeup. In addition to previous Jokers’ who used white makeup on their faces and red makeup highlighting an eccentric smile, this Joker’s makeup includes a blue diamond across his left eye, red makeup on his nose that imitates a clown nose and red makeup on his forehead as eyebrows. The director, Todd Phillips, has stated that this video is “a camera test” and this makeup may not be the final design for the Joker’s look. However, even more behind the scenes photos of Phoenix in costume seem to suggest that the makeup is final. In these photos, we also see Phoenix in traditional Joker attire with an extravagant suit. Personally, I believe this is the final design, as a director would not add effects and music over a simple camera test, and we have seen set photos with Phoenix sporting this makeup, but we could very well see a design change in the final cut.

What all these leaks tell us is that the film has started shooting and seems to be on schedule for its eventual 2019 release. I am hopeful for this movie, as it gives the Joker the next chance to be portrayed on the big screen since 2016’s Suicide Squad, which had monumentally failed at portraying the character. Although I am skeptical about a Joker origin movie, as such a key part of his character is the air of mystery surrounding the character’s true backstory, I do believe Joaquin Phoenix has the acting skills to pull off such a complex character.

Movie Newsflash

While there are many pieces of film news that are noteworthy, not each one deserves its own article. See the list below for our a quick recap of some notable news.

Scarlet Witch & Loki TV shows

A recent announcement by Marvel is that two beloved MCU characters, Scarlet Witch and Loki, who have not previously had the opportunity to star in their own solo movies, will be getting their own television shows. The shows will be on the new Disney streaming service, which will be released in 2019. We don’t know what these shows will be about or whether any other characters will cross over to them. Even though there will be a long wait for these shows, we are sure they will be worth watching.

Black Widow synopsis

One of the main characters in the entirety of the MCU is Natasha Romanova, Black Widow. However, she has never been given her own movie… until now. It was confirmed that the movie was in production earlier this year, but now, we have our first idea on what the movie’s plot will entail. The official Black Widow synopsis says, “At birth the Black Widow (aka Natasha Romanova) is given to the KGB, which grooms her to become its ultimate operative. When the U.S.S.R. breaks up, the government tries to kill her as the action moves to present-day New York, where she is a freelance operative. The standalone film will find Romanoff living in the United States 15 years after the fall of the Soviet Union.” People have been speculating about exactly what this means, but no one knows for sure. The public believes the movie will release in 2019, so the first official teaser will not come out until at least 2019. It will be a long wait, so if you are excited for this movie, you should probably find something else to be excited for!

Birds of Prey confirmed

The DC Comics Extended Universe (DCEU) has not had much success compared to its competitor, the MCU. However, it looks like that is about to change with the new Aquaman movie coming out in December of this year and a Shazam movie coming out in April of next year. Things are looking up for fans of DC movies. Another movie that sounds promising is Birds of Prey, which has just been confirmed to release in February of 2020. The Birds of Prey movie has not begun filming, but the execs at DC already know what the movie will be about. The synopsis reads, “After splitting up with The Joker, Harley Quinn, and three other female superheroes - Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya - come together to save the life of a little girl (Cassandra Cain) from an evil crime lord.” We do not know who that “evil crime lord” is, although there is speculation that it will be the Batman villain, Black Mask. This movie is just one of the promising upcoming movies that DC has to offer.

Crazy Rich Asians 2

One of the most successful movies so far this year has been the summer blockbuster, Crazy Rich Asians. The movie follows a woman who accompanies her boyfriend to his best friend’s wedding. There, she learns that her boyfriend is very wealthy and is considered one of the country’s most eligible bachelors. It was an instant hit, earning a whopping 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. After this movie’s release, everyone was thinking the most logical thing, “what about a sequel?” Well, it has now been confirmed. Jon M. Chu will be coming back to direct, and most of the cast will also return. The movie will be based on the book’s sequel, China Rich Girlfriend. This sequel will come out in 2020 at the latest, so we still have a while.

Rewatch Recommendations

Rewatch Recommendations are recommendations from the writers of This Month In Film for some movies that released over a year ago that you should watch or rewatch when you have free time. Each month, our writers will pick movie we recommend and give reasons behind why we chose that film. This months list: Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Batman Begins, and Back to the Future!

Lord of The Rings: Fellowship of the Ring

By Riley Roche

For my Weekend Rewatch, I chose the first installment of the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy. There hasn’t been a fantasy movie with this level of quality or grand scale since the last installment of the series, Return of the King, released in 2003. 2001’s Fellowship of the Ring, directed by Peter Jackson, is a film adaptation of the book by J.R.R. Tolkien which shares the same name. Fellowship of the Ring is about the hobbit Frodo Baggins. Frodo is tasked with throwing an ancient artifact, the One Ring, into the lava of Mount Doom. The problem is, Mount Doom is all the way across Middle Earth, the setting of the movie. During the beginning of Frodo’s journey across Middle Earth, he is joined by fellow hobbits Sam, Merry and Pippin. Finally arriving at Rivendell, the home of the elven lord, Elrond, they band of hobbits are introduced to new people who join their group, which is then named the Fellowship of the Ring.

I believe this movie is overlooked by many despite its 8.8 IMDb rating, 92 Metascore, and 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. This movie is clearly critically acclaimed, but still, not enough people have watched Fellowship of the Ring (Fellowship). This movie is beautiful. The establishing and wide shots are thoughtfully chosen with incredible lighting and choice of color. Dialogue shots have such personality to them that you can’t help but for your eyes to be fixed on the screen. The pacing and direction in this movie are also amazing. Despite being a tad slow towards the beginning and end of the movie, Fellowship’s pacing is consistent and always hits each story beat at the exact right moment. All of this coupled with great performances from every cast member, specifically Elijah Wood’s incredible job as the main protagonist, Frodo Baggins, and you have a beautifully shot, brilliantly paced, and well-acted fantasy movie worth watching. Plus, if you enjoy the movie, there are two more movies in the trilogy!

Batman Begins

By Jared Miller

For my Weekend Rewatch, I chose the first movie in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Batman Begins. Batman Begins is, in my opinion, the most underrated superhero movie of all time. It is a Batman origin movie, starting from the time he was a child. When he was a child, his parents were murdered, and so for the rest of his childhood, he lived with his family butler. When he became an adult, he went to Asia, where he was trained by a man Henri Ducard, who he later learns is Ra’s Al Ghul, to be in the League of Shadows. At the end of his training, he finds out that the League of Shadows plans to destroy Gotham, so he turns on them. He then goes to Lucius Fox, the CEO of the Applied Science Division at Wayne Enterprises. Lucius helps him to become Batman, giving him the gear to do the job. Then, the rest is history.

Batman Begins is overlooked due to its incredibly popular sequel, The Dark Knight, which was much more successful. However, Batman Begins is still in my list for the top ten best superhero movies. The movie received an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes (better than 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War) and a 8.3 on IMDb. It has a great cast, with Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, and more. Batman Begins also has one of the top five directors of all time (IMO) in Christopher Nolan. He directed movies such as Interstellar, Inception, and Batman Begins’ sequel, The Dark Knight. Overall, this movie is a wonderful one that is definitely worth a rewatch.

Back to the Future

By Alec Plante

For my Weekend Rewatch, I chose an 80’s classic, Back to the Future. In my opinion, Back to the Future is a movie that everyone should see, so if you haven’t seen it, watch it. Now is better than never. Back to the Future came out in 1985 and is about the life of Marty Mcfly. Marty and his scientist friend, Doc Brown, create a time machine and things start getting. At the beginning of their story, they get ambushed by terrorists, and Marty is forced to go back to 1955 without Doc. From there on he is looking for a way to leave that time without running into his parents.

Back to the Future was a hit when it was originally released, which is why producers continued to make a second and a third movie that nearly matched its success. On Rotten Tomatoes, Back to the Future was rated extremely well, with critics rating it at 96% and fans alike at 94%. It is was one of the most highly rated sci-fi movies ever, and it still holds that title. The acting is amazing and fun. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd do a great job of making you feel tense, relaxed, or even confused. I love this film. I think it is a great one for the Weekend Rewatch, and I recommend the other two films in the trilogy if you enjoy this first one!

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