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Critics fall for Wakanda and the entire ‘Black Panther’ cast

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There’s a new king in town and his name is T’Challa. Marvel’s Black Panther won’t open in theaters for another two weeks, but the reviews are in.

As Mashable’s Angie Han wrote, this feels like more than a regular movie, whether because of widespread love for the character or audiences’ craving for nonwhite representation on screen.

A few years ago – and even now – this would have been any easy job to botch, but director Ryan Coogler and his formidable cast delivered.

As of this writing, Black Panther is currently rocking a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with 48 reviews.

For more on what critics thought of Black Panther (spoiler-free), read on.

The women of Wakanda (especially Shuri) rule

Kendra James, Shondaland:

Having three women working together without conflict (and all dark skinned with nary a loose curl or straight hair in sight) in a blockbuster film is still a novelty in 2018. Coogler forces his audience to, for the first time in the MCU, acknowledge the power of Black women. There is Nakia (Nyong’o), a spy who considers it her mission in life to surreptitiously help the disenfranchised on the continent. T’Challa’s sister, Shuri (Wright), is a teenage genius who leads the country’s scientific endeavors. She’s also Marvel’s first true style icon, and should have an Ivy Park line created in her honor immediately. As General Okoye, Gurira is the actual personification of #Goals; a woman who stands firm in her beliefs, is a primary adviser to the king and his mother (Angela Bassett), and who could definitely take out Black Widow even on her worst day.

Joelle Monique, Polygon:

Shuri is a revelation. Wright steals every scene with her bright smile and perfect comedic timing. From a brazen middle finger to a sense of fashion and confidence in the face of imminent danger, Shuri is an inspiration for all. I cannot fully express the joy of seeing a smart, carefree, nonsexualized young black woman on the big screen…There isn’t a Black Widow sex symbol here, or a Pepper Potts standing in the wings. The women of Black Panther are vital to Wakanda’s success.

Jamie Broadnax, Black Girl Nerds:

She steals damn near every scene in the film, and I’m 110% confident that audiences will walk away talking about Shuri long after the film ends. I’m also confident that Wright would be able to hold a Shuri Black Panther solo movie on her own.  Let’s remember that in comic book canon (during the Reginald Hudlin run), Shuri takes on the Black Panther mantle and becomes ruler of Wakanda. It would only make sense to bring in a Shuri movie at this point. I also would like to add that the focus on her being the smartest person in the universe is strong here, and many characters in the Marvel universe—including Tony Stark himself—have a lot to learn from Shuri’s technology and skills.

A milestone for representation

Joelle Monique, Polygon:

In showing the legacy of Wakanda, which is filled with wealth and knowledge, and juxtaposing it with the hardships that black youths faced in Oakland, Coogler establishes a conversation around the dichotomy of being African-American versus African…Black Panther seeks to find a middle ground between these two worlds: a world where black Americans aren’t left out of the cultural celebration of their West African roots, and where greedy people don’t have an opportunity to consume Wakanda. By focusing on the citizens of Wakanda and their disagreements on how to manage the country’s future, Coogler creates a sense of harmonic anarchy.

Jamie Broadnax, Black Girl Nerds:

it’s afro-futuristic and Blackity-black as hell.  It’s everything I’ve ever desired in a live-action version of this popular superhero and yet so much more. Quite frankly, the experience is indescribable. I left the theater wanting to see this movie at least 10 more times. I already know that Black Panther‘s weight in gold at the box office will be in repeat viewings, because we just won’t want this cinematic experience to end.

Marc Bernardin, Nerdist:

The film does deal head-on with issues of race, subjugation, and oppression in ways both heartbreaking and hilarious. At one point, a young black boy in a rundown apartment in Oakland, California (Coogler’s hometown), dismisses the idea of Wakanda itself: What good is “a kid in Oakland, running around believing in fairy tales”? Coogler answers that question with the film itself: Here is a fairy tale for children who rarely get them, and never like this. What’s more, the final coda is as direct an address to the xenophobia at home in our current administration as that which you’ll find in any film this year, let alone a giant Marvel movie.

Kendra James, Shondaland:

The 31-year-old director has just three feature films under his belt — “Fruitvale Station” (2013), “Creed” (2015), and “Black Panther”— but these three films (which all feature astounding performances by Jordan) share a similar point of view: that the black experience is nuanced and it is varied. We are parents. We span socio-economic statuses. We live with disabilities. We might live delightfully ordinary lives, or we might be superheroes. But no matter where we fall in life, we’re still affected by the lasting (and ongoing) effects that whiteness has had on black people everywhere.
It’s imperative to understand the point of view Coogler brings to “Black Panther,” as it is the scaffolding T’Challa (the Black Panther’s secret identity, played by Boseman) and the rest of Wakanda stand on.

Magical world building

Joelle Monique, Polygon:

With everyone lined up, it’s easy to see that Ruth E. Carter deserves an Oscar for her costume design. Her use of colors is masterful; the palette is distinctly African, and so striking as to make me long for the days of Technicolor.
Wakanda is the African dream. Unsullied by colonization, it is the most technically advanced civilization in the world. It looks like the most technically advanced place in the world, too.
All of Wakanda is constructed in harmony with the natural features of the land. Production designer Hannah Beachler has created some of the most unique sci-fi spaces in recent memory.

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times:

Buoyed by its groovy women and Afrofuturist flourishes, Wakanda itself is finally the movie’s strength, its rallying cry and state of mind. Early on, a white character carelessly describes it as “a third world country — textiles, shepherds, cool outfits.” Part of the joke, which the movie wittily engages, is that Wakanda certainly fits that profile except that its shepherds patrol the border with techno-wizardry, and its textiles and costumes dazzle because of the country’s secret vibranium sauce. More critically, having never been conquered, Wakanda has evaded the historical traumas endured by much of the rest of Africa, freeing it from the ravages of both colonialism and postcolonialism.

Marc Bernardin, Nerdist:

It’s as if everyone enlisted to bring the project to life understood the magnitude of what Black Panther, the first comic-based studio movie with a black hero at the center since 1998’s Blade, would represent. The chance to fill every corner of their fictional Wakanda with the same level of craft and detail usually reserved for British-star-studded period pieces. An opportunity to tell a story about black lives, which matter and are not defined by their pain but, instead, by their glory. An answer to a culture’s question, “When will it be our time in the sun?”

Kendra James, Shondaland:

“Black Panther” is so masterfully shot that its many-hued black actors almost seem to glow. This is how you light melanin. With the help of costume designer Ruth Carter (who must certainly be in contention for an Oscar nomination in 2019 for her work here) and hair department head Camille Friend, director Ryan Coogler has created one of the most visually interesting displays of blackness on screen. “Black Panther” mixes several aesthetics from the African continent (influences came from the Masai, Suri, Ndebele, and Bosotho peoples, among others), and while some may consider it an imperfect display or too much of a melange, the wide-ranging display of black people is astounding.

Black Panther hits theaters nationwide Feb. 16.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/06/black-panther-review-roundup/

New Movie Reviews

Spike Lee Is at His Searing Best With BlacKkKlansman

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“Spike Lee’s white-hot genre mash-up BlacKkKlansman initiates its course in the early 1970s. It’s a time “marked by the spread of integration and miscegenation,” according to an unnamed race theorist in the opening sequence (he’s played with palpable animosity by Alec Baldwin). In Colorado Springs, he continues, a sect of “true, white Americans” sense a movement brewing among black “radicals” and Jews who they feel have “pressured their great way of life.” The proto-MAGA sentiment is but a backdrop, one of many ways Lee’s latest joint teases out the resonances between then and now. The parallels aren’t simply the work of a fabulist, though; the playfully urgent film is inspired by real events—as Lee styles it, “some fo’ real, fo’ real shit”.

Elsewhere in Colorado Springs, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is at a crossroads. The first black officer on the Colorado Springs Police Force, he’s overcome the department’s internal racism to attain the rank of a detective, but an assignment has left him with mixed allegiances, torn between his work and the world. It’s not until he comes across an ad in the paper from the Ku Klux Klan that it all clicks—call them, and pretend to be white.

With a jazzman’s knack for grandiosity, one that’s more Charlie Parker bebop than Miles Davis cool, Lee understands tone better than most filmmakers of his generation. Over his career, he has found ways to bring sound and color into symmetry as well as discord, and to derive power from both. He’s got an appetite for climax……………..”

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New Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Christopher Robin Revives Winnie the Pooh

Charmaine Blake

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“It’s been a banner summer for crying. Some of the tears came from movies you’d expect, like one in which an eighth-grade girl struggles with her self-esteem. Other times, they were sneak-attack snivels, like when a movie-musical sequel based on the songs of ABBA triggered four different tear-jerking moments, one of which had me stifling an audible shriek-sob.

Anyone who saw the trailer for Disney’s new Christopher Robin film, which gives Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood the Paddington treatment, probably expected to have their heart strings plucked a bit. This movie gives them a full-blast bluegrass strum.

That’s one willy, nilly, silly, old, emotionally devastating bear.

Maybe its because were all feeling a bit brittle lately. There are Heffalumps and Woozles at every terrifying turn in todays world. We could use an old friend to help fight them off and feel safe again.

Christopher Robin is written by Allison Schroeder (Hidden Figures), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), and Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip), directed by Marc Forster (Finding Neverland), and of course, inspired by the characters of A.A. Milne and Ernest Shepard. Its a veritable Avengers of emotional storytelling. Together, they prove that feelings are still movies most valuable special effect. (Though the special effects used to animate these characters is pretty darned impressive, too.)

When we meet up with our old friends, the animals are gathered for a farewell party for young Christopher Robin, who will soon be going off to boarding school. A clever narrative device then makes…………..”

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/christopher-robin-revives-winnie-the-pooh-as-an-emotional-terrorist

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New Movie Reviews

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Review!

Charmaine Blake

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I was not among those begging for a followup to the wildly successful 2008 Abba musical. But after just a few scenes, all I could say was: Gimme, Gimme, Gimme

“Benny Andersson and Bjrn Ulvaeus of Abba must over the years have considered what they would do if they were asked to sign off on a second iteration of what can only be called the Mamma Mia! movie franchise which first appeared in 2008. Perhaps they thought that, in the words of the song: If I had to do the same again, I would my friend, because quite frankly its a licence to print money.

That first film made me break out in a combination of hives and bubonic plague. And to be honest, this new one does have the original films plotless melange of feelgoodery, an exotically amorphous jellyfish of a film which is periodically zapped with the million-volt shock of a zingingly brilliant Abba tune.

But something in the sheer relentless silliness and uncompromising ridiculousness of this, combined with a new flavour of self-aware comedy, made me smile in spite of myself: there are funny, campy performances from Cher, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters and also Alexa Davies as Walterss younger self, and some very good lines. People are always running absurdly around a Greek island waving their arms in the air like they just dont care and its always sunny, except when gasp! theres a storm and plans for the relaunch of a tourist hotel are briefly and unimportantly derailed. This film reminded me weirdly in its staging of Kenneth Branaghs 90s film version of Much Ado About Nothing, with its golden southern European hues and beaming cast. Theres the same bizarre plot convolutions and holiday-romance departure from reality.

After the first film, I noted that the song Fernando was not included and suggested that next time they should include a hearing-impaired character of that name and someone desperately worried should bang a particular percussion instrument and ask of Fernando a certain impassioned question. In fact, Cher sings Fernando now, and addresses it to a bearded Andy………”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jul/17/mamma-mia-here-we-go-again-review-feta-fever-dream-sequel-is-weirdly-irresistible

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