The Movie ‘Us’, Girl Boss Review

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Evan Alex, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Elizabthe Moss

Length: 2 Hours

Written, Directed and Produced by Oscar Winner Jordan Peele

Girl Boss Rating: 8/10

Jordan Peele

The thriller (well Jordan Peele claims it’s a horror – so it is a horror) we have been waiting for has finally hit South Africa’s cinemas. It officially made its debut at 8pm on the 23rd of March at selected Sterkinekor cinemas across the country. As you can imagine seats were limited, and that meant that they were quickly sold out. But if you missed this debut, don’t worry It will fully return in the next week, and that time it will be available for screening at all Sterkinekor cinemas nationwide. 

I love horror movies; the suspense just gets to me. This was no disappointment. In the past I have never built enough courage to actually go view a horror/thriller movie at the cinema, but this is freaking Jordan Peele man, a legend amongst many other black Hollywood directors, I had to book my seat, I had to show up, and I did.

‘US’ is a build up but not a sequel from his 2017 film ‘Get Out’ that Peele won a best original screenplay Oscar for. So you can imagine the anticipation surrounding this release, because damn, ‘Get Out’, we all thought was the one. It was just so brilliant, so genius, so well played, just a beautiful orchestration that played on all the human senses. That, I feel, is what makes a great thriller/horror film, a film that plays on our senses as an audience, particularly sensory deprivation.

Sorry, I got carried away…

Description

‘US’ follows a typical family of four on their vacation to Adelaide Winston’s beachfront family home, where she grew up as a child. What her family does not know is that she had a traumatic experience that has haunted her to the point that she went mute. Her family, oblivious to her traumatic childhood experience, just wants to fully get into holiday mode, but her fears quickly surface and that is when it all goes down. Her fears become a reality, and soon they are left fending for their lives.

Plot Twist – Spoiler!

A part of me likes it, but most of me hates it when there is a sudden plot twist in a film, particularly towards the end. Ambiguous endings are just the worst, but the end of this movie will have you questioning your intelligibility. There had to be an explanation released afterwards, because it’s genuinely a ‘what the fudge’ moment. The answer as to who really is the villain is based on perspective and that will require your introspection.

What I Enjoyed The Most

This film will have you at the edge of your seat throughout the entire movie. It is thrilling, exciting, anxious, hilarious, and scary all at the same time. Of course being a Jordan Peele movie, you will have a good laugh. I kid you not when I say that watching this film in the cinema will just add to the ‘fun’ of experiencing horror movies. The whole audience is with you, experiencing the same emotions with you, some more than others. Spoiler! I also loved that it does not have your typical heroic ending – you know where the good guys always win, although it might seem like it, but it’s not the case. However as I mentioned, you will be left to determine this on your own.

What to look out for

I would recommend that you pay close attention to Red’s narrative, from the second she says “once upon a time”, there are plenty of subliminal messages in her story, and this will help you get a better picture of the tethered version of the story.

But this is a definite must-watch because firstly ‘its freaking a Jordan Peele Production’, but more importantly because the true message of the movie is something we should all think about, although most of it is a fictional creation, but what really happened to the network of abandoned, underground tunnels across America… Oh, Peele alerts you about this at the start of the movie.

Watch the trailer here

Us- Official Trailer

The Girl From St Agnes: Girl Boss Review

Genre: Murder Mystery

Cast: Nina Milner, Tyrone Keogh, Jane DeWet, Shamilla Miller, Robert Hobbs

Seasons: 1 Season, 8 Episodes

Length: Approx 52 minutes per episode

Language: English

Director: Catherine Cooke, Cindy Lee

Girl Boss rating: 8.5/10

First Thoughts

A Phenomenal South African Production. In all honesty I was never prepared for this local production, I don’t know why but from when I started viewing it, I was already well and suited with my critical hat, but to my surprise, this series took me by shock. In my opinion it is by far one of our best productions, maybe because I’m really a lover of a good thriller / suspense production. I am crossing my fingers for a second season.

Description

Ms Ballard is utterly committed to solving this crime, which leads to her discovering many hidden secrets and agendas by the individuals (pupils and staff members) in the school or those who have close contact to the girl’s at the school. The series is layered with secrets, secrets that are slowly uncovered, basically leading to the questioning of every character, including Ms Ballard. I guess the tagline makes sense, ‘At St. Agnes, the only saint is in the name’, as all characters are more than just one-dimensional, they are multifaceted, and the suspense lies in disclosing everyone’s true motive.

Why you should watch ‘The Girl from St. Agnes’

If you are South African you will absolutely love the plot, especially the subliminal messages which can be deciphered as themes. The themes are dark but are relevant to our society. Bullying is a tragedy in the series and so is it in our society. Teenage sexuality, rape culture and misogyny are explored and scrutinized, which directly comments on our society. These are acts that are very much prevalent in both private and public schools. Social media is highlighted as a major concern, as a tool that can be negatively utilized to assassinate one’s identity, cyber bullying is a major concern in the global community as a whole.

What I Didn’t Enjoy

I only wished that there was a black lead in the series, it would largely engage and represent the audience that is in private school spaces.

Spoiler Alert!

Also, Lexi’s narrative would’ve been more powerful if her motives had been explored and actually revealed. Her ambiguous narrative is not gratifying as we are unable to identify with her personally.

Otherwise, big ups to this production, I honestly cannot wait to see more from this crew, also such phenomenal acting!

Girl Boss Movie Review: Captain Marvel

Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Gemma Chan, Lashana Lynch

Length: 2hrs 4mins

Girl Boss Rating: 8/10

Marvel Comics is on a roll! I am not biased, and I will not contribute to the DC Comics vs Marvel Comics debate, but Marvel has me tickled and excited in this first half of the year. I absolutely loved Captain Marvel and I am eagerly awaiting Avengers: Endgame next month.

Description

Brie Larson plays a kick-ass extraterrestrial, female warrior from the planet Kree, who is eventually caught and tortured for information by the enemy Kree has been fighting, the Skulls. As the enemy tries to extract information from Brie, she starts to have memory flash backs, which eventually lead her back to Earth. She escapes from captivity and hunts the enemy, who saw in her memories that what they are looking for is on planet Earth.  This is where the movie starts rolling as Brie comes to find out that she was human born, Carol Denvers and was considered to have died on assignment working in the US Air force.

Official Movie Poster

On Earth whilst chasing the Skulls, Carol Denvers comes up against Nick Furry (Samuel L Jackson) who is working for SHIELD. They end up working together to avert a catastrophic war from taking place on Earth, and Carol Denvers essentially becomes the founding Avenger, Captain Marvel. Who Nick Furry can call when Earth is really in trouble.  We saw him call Captain Marvel at the end of the last Avengers Movie released 2018.  The movie has all the action you can expect from a sci fi action movie.

Things I Loved About Captain Marvel

I loved that there is a female lead, surrounded by other strong female characters.  Carol Denvers is not a sidekick of a male, although she reports to a male captain whilst she believed she was from Kree.  Her story-line is believable and so is empowering to women watching. I loved that her best friend, who was with her when they were trying to break into to the US Air Force as females, is black, and she also plays a strong character that flies spaceships; although we don’t get to know more about her history or character, she reminds me of General Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) in Black Panther. And off course with regards to representation, the movie also has Samuel L. Jackson as (Nick Furry). I also love that a woman wrote the script and directed the movie.

Things I didn’t like about Captain Marvel

It takes a while for the movie to really get going, you could miss the first 20 mins and still catch on just fine and not miss any essential plot/s.

Why you should watch Captain Marvel

  • It’s a complete stand-alone movie that doesn’t require that you should have watched other Marvel Movies, it doesn’t require you to have any knowledge whatsoever about other Marvel characters or Avengers.
  • It will make you a believer in the idea that you don’t have to lose your  “feminine” traits to be a kick-ass superhero and that women can be superheroes just as we are.  For some reason the world of superheroes is quite masculine.
  • It will definitely make you want to watch the Avengers Franchise, which I think is pretty cool.
  • I believe Marvel is not a “made-up” world, I believe these things do happen and will make you question reality and perception of power.

Red Room – Movie Review

Grab some popcorn and a drink on your way into South Africa’s first thriller film because you’re bound to be entertained throughout.

Red Room stars the very talented Khanyi Mbau and follows the story of a new mother who, due to a series of unfortunate events, ends up in the middle of a sex trafficking plot. This thriller stays one step ahead of its audience throughout and it extends its shelf-life by being one of those movies that are completely different when watched the second time around. Its elements of mystery are balanced out with some comedic moments and dramatic turns.

We had no idea what to expect going into this movie as the trailer is about as mysterious as the storyline itself. However, not knowing what to expect is exactly the way movies should be experienced, as it elevates the possibilities for surprises and memorable moments. This movie does that very successfully.

Although sex trafficking occurs in the film, the heaviness of the topic is not explored. We’re showed a few girls in captivity but the attention is not placed on them. The focus of the movie is on the main characters and their experiences and agendas. Khanyi Mbau touches on this in our red carpet interview with her, explaining that storytelling should be allowed to be fun, without always being too serious and educational. Which is what we experienced with this film. Not edutainment, but pure entertainment. Its plot twists and turns challenge the audience to be open-minded and the beautiful cinematography expands the sense of possibilities within the story, making it feel like a high-budget, international film.

The cast is very talented, I personally enjoyed the performances of the villains in this story. Special attention is paid to details that you could miss if you don’t pay close attention. Its an experience that we recommend for anyone interested in seeing South African stories told in a new and exciting way. It’s incredible that our film industry is allowing for more experiments in this way. Trying new things and expanding our style of storytelling is what will ultimately propel us forward as African artists.

Check out Red Room this weekend and let us know what you think!

Girl Boss rating: 7/10

Talking Black Panther Music with Yugen Blakrok

As Marvel’s Black Panther takes its well-deserved seat in the Academy Awards club with 6 nominations (including Best Original Song by Kendrick Lamar & SZA), we prepare for Captain Marvel and Avengers: End Game to complete the riveting story that Marvel fans have been following for years. Black Panther was undoubtedly one of the most exciting instalments in this series of films and it is arguably Marvel’s single biggest success as it continues to break records critically and in box office sales.

Stats aside, a lot of us are looking forward to seeing Wakandans again. It’s been a cultural phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. Africans worldwide including the diaspora, embraced and celebrated their African roots in the spirit of Black Panther’s marvellous execution of African beauty and tradition. Wakanda has become the metaphor for the African spirit that connects us all.

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Director, Ryan Coogler, has expressed the level of pressure he felt while making this film, as it was so apparent to everyone that nothing like it had ever been made before. The cast and crew were passionate about honouring the image of African culture and this passion translated over into its music as well. TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment) artist Kendrick Lamar was approached to produce the soundtrack for the film. In a Fader interview with David Redshaw, Coogler explains Kendrick Lamar’s evolving involvement in the film’s soundtrack.

“At first, he was just going to do a few songs for the film. Then he came in and watched quite a bit of the movie, and the next thing I know, they were booking a studio and they were going at it.”

Having explored South Africa’s rich culture and outstanding musical talent, TDE reached out to some of their favourite SA artists to collaborate with on the Black Panther soundtrack. The soundtrack includes local artists Babes Wodumo, Sjava, Saudi, Reason and Yugen Blakrok. As the standout performance on the soundtrack, we had to get in touch with the Johannesburg poet and MC for a brief chat about her involvement in the project and the creative process behind her craft.

Yugen Blakrok

yugen3

Featured on the fifth track of the Black Panther album, titled ‘Opps’, Yugen Blakrok raps alongside Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar, proving that black women in hip-hop are a force to be reckoned with.  

Let’s start with the creative process behind your art. How did you come up with your stage-name and how does it relate to your style?

It’s a combination of sound and feeling. Yugen from the concept of awareness of the unseen and Blakrok for its weight and strength. The essence of my style is Yugen, my method is Blakrok.

Your style fits very well with the theme of Black Panther’s strong female characters. Did you know much about Black Panther before working on this feature or did you have to do some research?

I knew a bit about the film from trailers and comic books, I never imagined I’d be in any way involved with it. The idea of a strong female character is something that permeates all of my writing, regardless – this is something I identify with.

How were you approached to take part in this project?

I got an email from Sounwave, saying he wanted me on a project they were working on. I lost my mind. I was on tour in Europe, physically drained and didn’t think I’d have the time to do it but I gave it a shot anyway.

What challenges did you face working on this project that were new to you?

It was a different level of pressure. With my own work, I like to take my time and really get into it. With this project, even though Black Panther hadn’t been mentioned, it was chaotic. I wrote as fast as I could and went looking for a studio to record this mystery verse in. When I got to the studio in Berlin, LMNZ had a tea ceremony prepared. I recorded the verse, sent it and forgot about it.

Did you know who else would be featured on this track or did that come as a surprise?

It was a surprise. After I came back to Johannesburg, I received a call letting me know that the verse would be used for the movie. When that tracklist dropped, I was screaming with the rest of the world.

What do you think about Black Panther’s cast as an all-black ensemble?

It’s fantastic that the movie has a brilliant, all-black ensemble. It’s not often that you see black people in powerful roles TOGETHER. I hope it fuels, inspires and drives more people of colour to break these boxed roles we’re constantly forced into.

With Black Panther, do you think the representation of black people in media is evolving?

I think it’s changing and for the most part, improving.

Your increasing fanbase, especially African fans, are bound to be moved and inspired by how well you represented South Africa’s creative ability to an international audience. Were you aware of the impact you might make?

Well, I aim to do best at any given opportunity. The only pressure I feel is to outdo myself. The fact that I didn’t know I was working on the Black Panther soundtrack is a blessing within a blessing. I didn’t know how much the folks over at TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment) knew about South Africa or if this might be their first time hearing an emcee from here, I just wanted to play my damn part.

What advice would you give to other young entertainers and creatives?

Blinders on, run your race and finish. Nothing else matters.

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