Great movie based on actual events. Awkwafina plays Billi, a Chinese American woman in her 30s whose grandmother back in China has just been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Her family decides not to tell her grandmother about the diagnosis in the belief that stress about these sorts of diagnoses is what kills people rather than the disease itself. Billi has a difficult time with this decision but goes along with the family. Late in the movie, her uncle tells her that she wants to tell her grandmother because she is American and the West doesn’t understand community and burden sharing. She wants to tell her grandmother so that she doesn’t have to step up and help to carry the emotional burden. She just wants to dump it all on her grandmother to absolve herself. It’s an interesting perspective. Anyway, I loved this movie and the only reason it didn’t get 5 stars is because it’s about 20 minutes too long. There are many shots that linger on the face of a character or set of characters as they walk. These scenes don’t add anything to the story. I loved the glimpses into life in China.
At Red River with Pat and Al
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am ☆☆☆☆☆
This is a great documentary about Morrison’s life and work. I have loved some of her books but hadn’t realized that she worked as an editor who focused on amplifying the voices of other black writers. The tidbits about what she was trying to do with her own writing were fascinating as well. She talks quite a bit in the documentary about refusing the white gaze, refusing to put white people and how they think about the world at the center of her writing. She also talks about how she decided early on to put the entire story on the first page of the novel so that the reader reads because they are interested in how and why the story unfolds. So brilliant…her recent death is such a loss.
At Red River with Pat and Al
The Kitchen ☆☆☆
Melissa McCarthy, Elisabeth Moss, and Tiffany Haddish play women whose husbands get caught in the middle of a crime and go to prison. The mob is supposed to take care of the wives and families while the men are away but they don’t pay enough. So the women decide to provide a better protection service than the neglectful, arrogant mob. They soon have taken over the protection racket in The Kitchen (Hell’s Kitchen in New York). As unrealistic as this is (how it happens is told in a montage of scenes), the rest of the movie contains the kind of plot twists and double crossings that only show up in movies like this. I really wanted to like this movie more than I did. The only reason I gave it 3 stars is because I mostly like its message and its cast is mostly really appealing.
At the Concord Regal
Blinded By the Light ☆☆
I have been seeing previews for this movie for months. I love Springsteen’s music and had really enjoyed Yesterday earlier in the summer and so thought I was going to love this one. But it was pretty bad. It is based on a true story in which an Indian-British kid from Luton, England falls in love with Bruce Springsteen’s music. Javed wants to be a writer and discovers modern poetry in Springsteen’s lyrics. Some of the ways that this is shown is quite clever. But each of the scene with music goes on about twice as long as they should. And then each use of music is done a second time, just to be sure we get I guess. In addition, most of the supporting characters are caricatures and so broadly drawn as to be almost offensive. Disappointing.
At the Concord Regal with Pat and Al
Hobbs and Shaw ☆☆☆
This movie is exactly what is advertised. With Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham as the title characters, there is a non-sense plot with lots of continuity issues in the filming. But the characters and dialog are so fun that we laughed out loud a LOT. The movie is conscious of the ridiculousness of the ways in which these action movies resolve their plots and allow our heroes to not get hurt and plays them to the hilt. Plus, all the cameos were so fun! I particularly enjoyed Ryan Reynolds as a CIA agent and Helen Mirren as Statham’s grifter mom.
I am currently Professor of Digital Media at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. I am also the current Coordinator of General Education at the University. I am interested in astrophotography, game studies, digital literacies, open pedagogies, and generally how technology impacts our culture.