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Hot Takes: Harley Quinn – Birds of Prey

Stop what you’re doing — buy a ticket to go see this exhilarating rollercoaster of a movie. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best action movie you’ve seen since…maybe ever?

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1) Stop what you’re doing — buy a ticket to go see this exhilarating rollercoaster of a movie. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best action movie you’ve seen since…maybe ever?

2) Two — not one but TWO!! — of my favorite fight scenes of all time are in this movie. How. I did not expect to be blown away by the action, mostly because DC movies make everything so gray and dull, but the cinematography and art direction are so top notch. And the fight choreography! Are there awards for that? The fun house fight scene is the most exciting fight scene I think I’ve seen since The Bride sliced up fiddy’lem suited warriors in a Tokyo restaurant.

3) Giving this another bullet, because the fight scene in the jail is the best pairing of action & song that I’ve seen in a long time (I think it was Halsey?!). And it looked so realistic! IDK if any of y’all saw Atomic Blonde, but the behind the scenes making-of clips on YouTube talked about how women-led fight scenes should be choreographed differently, because as a general rule they have less mass and less strength so they’re not going to bludgeon people to death with their fists the same way. There’s a lot of bludgeoning going on in the jail (and throughout) but it really felt like “this is the way a woman (or women) would take on an army of men if she had a steel baseball bat.”

4) Perfectly cast. Everybody hit their beats. Put Rosie Perez in more stuff. Margot Robbie is a star and I will literally watch her in anything. Jurnee Smollett did have a scene that took me straight back to Eve’s Bayou though because her face really hasn’t changed in 20 years.

5) Laxatives work way faster than that.

6) The team up is honestly so much more fulfilling than when we saw all the women in the same shot at the end of Endgame. Birds of Prey gave me the All Female Action Sequence I’ve been dreaming of. Plus, I personally like when multiple storylines converge in one climax, even if it’s mildly predictable.

7) I don’t love Harley Quinn as a character. When she gets smacked for being annoying, I feel that in my soul. My roommates both love the cartoon (whatever cartoon is the newest, idk, I watched like 1.5 episodes) but I just can’t get into her. Margot Robbie made me invested in her as a person about as well as anybody would be able to. I was actively rooting for her the entire time, even when she broke my heart.

8) This is one of the best movie soundtracks of all time. It’s like Waiting To Exhale but for 25-year-olds who put whiskey in a Nalgene bottle and say monogamy is a last resort for ugly people.

 

 

SPOILERS (but mild ones, you can read on if you don’t mind at all, the plot won’t be given away here)

 

9) There’s no way for one woman to get past that many police officers with guns. Why didn’t anyone just shoot her while she was slinging bean bags at everybody?

10) Any woman who has successfully defended herself against GROUPS OF VERY LARGE MEN REPEATEDLY can definitely do better in a fight against a 50 year old drunk lady cop than a particular scene would lead you to believe.

11) WHAT A PERFECT DEATH SCENE! I actually laughed out loud.

Score: 8.5 / 10

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Hot Takes: Black Widow

This isn’t Natasha’s story the way most origin stories would be.

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I don’t want to give spoilers in case you don’t want them, so we got three parts here.

The Good / Random (No Spoilers)

1. This is a good ass origin story! They’re so formulaic in superhero movies, but this isn’t that.
Captain Marvel  – accidentally gets superpowers, learns how to use them, kicks butt.
Spiderman  – accidentally gets superpowers, learns how to use them, kicks butt.
Captain America – intentionally gets superpowers, learns how to use them, kicks butt.
Iron Man – spends a bunch of money making superpowers, learns how to use them, kicks butt.
Black Widow – a child trafficker gets tracked down by two of his former slaves/spies/assassins.

2. Where do spies be getting all this money? Natasha is an orphan. Did she just steal a few billion dollars and stash it somewhere to be spending on identities and jets and whatnot? It’s not like the Avengers draw a paycheck. Falcon could barely keep his little fishing boat in business.

3. Florence Pugh is hilarious and, no shade but shade, a better Black Widow than Scarlett. I’m so excited for her.

4. I want smaller Marvel movies. We have consistently leveled up the danger from saving a city to saving a country to saving a planet to saving the universe to now probably saving all of the dimensions of the universe. Where do you go after that? Let’s make it small. Black Widow is an exercise in taking the stakes down and I hope they keep moving in that direction. Every Marvel movie doesn’t need a huge scene culminating in hundreds of explosions where the universe is saved for another day. Let’s get the Marvel road trip buddy comedy, the Marvel bank heist, the Marvel family drama. Black Widow is a mashup of all three, and it’s done really well.

5. There are only like three men in the whole movie who have more than a minute of screentime and you love to see it.

6. For me, action scenes have a heightened sense of danger when it’s a bunch of regular people chasing each other in cars and kicking ass without flying through the sky or blasting out neon projectiles. In that way, Black Widow feels more like a Bond movie or a Bourne movie than a Marvel movie and I’m very much here for all of that.

The Annoying (Mild Spoilers)

7. Because these are real people who can DIE and those are my favorite kinds of action movies, it really takes me out of the film when these real, non-enhanced humans survive ridiculous things or put themselves in absolutely fatal situations with no regard to their own safety. If you can’t survive a gunshot, you’re not going to squat in the open door of a helicopter while it’s being sprayed with bullets — two bullet holes appeared on Yelena’s left and then three appeared on her right, but she’s right in the doorway getting hit by nothing? How many car crashes can Natasha not only walk away from but also fight an adversary immediately after? My dad has ten broken bones from a car crash he was in a couple of weeks ago, but she walking away from cars that rolled over? I don’t like that.

8. Atomic Blonde has some of the most realistic fight scenes I’ve ever seen in a female action movie and the fight choreographer talked about how they designed those scenes to accurately portray how a woman (or anyone with less muscle mass) would take advantage of their surroundings. Black Widow cannot pummel someone the way Captain America can because she’s not as strong. It doesn’t really matter though. It’s Marvel. We didn’t watch it for accuracy, and the fight scenes are all the same. However, when Natasha fights Yelena, they both utilize everything around them from dishes to curtains and it just made me wonder why they don’t always have Natasha fight that way.

9. Neither of these things would matter as much if the writers hadn’t made Yelena (hilariously) point out that Black Widow is a regular person compared to the other Avengers. If you’re going to highlight the fact that your cast is just humans who get shot, get broken bones, and then get ibuprofen, then you shouldn’t write action scenes for invincible heroes.

The Response to “It’s Too Late” Criticism (Mild Spoilers)

10. We watch movies about actual dead people all the time, so I don’t get what the big deal is. Tammy Faye Baker is so ridiculous she might as well have been written by Marvel and I’m gonna see that movie on opening night.

11. It’s right on time, but the marketing sucks, because it’s too focused on Natasha. Marvel has incorrectly assumed the public cares enough about Natasha to want this movie even though she’s dead, or that we like Scarlett enough to see this movie even though we know the resolution of the character. But Natasha and Yelena have the same origin story — it’s just as much Florence Pugh’s movie as it is Scarlett Johansson’s. This is the new Black Widow’s origin story, not the dead one’s.

Score: 7/10 

 

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Hot Takes: Zola

Taylour Paige is a star.

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1. TS Madison needs more film roles, stat. I didn’t even know she could act (yes, she was basically just being TS Madison, but Julia Roberts built a whole career of just being Julia on screen).

2. Personal preference, but I don’t love indie movies where you feel like the director needs to constantly remind you that they’re in control of the vision and that you’re watching an indie movie. Zola is a good story on its own — that’s why the Twitter thread went viral in the first place. It doesn’t need a lot of “filmmaking” to make a watchable film, and yet Janicza Bravo made sure to remind us through long, broody driving shots and visual interjections of meaningless filler in no way integral to the plot, that she’s the boss and she’s making an indie movie. I don’t like that.

3. Taylour Paige is a star. Taylour Paige’s body is also a star. Additionally, Taylour Paige’s face is a star. That ballet training and that Debbie Allen instruction really came in handy because the way she moves is magnetic. She can just walk through the scene and command attention. Also, the way she can tell microstories with her face! The entire film is one big showcase for Taylour’s tiny facial expressions.

4. Riley Keough (Elvis Pressley’s granddaughter, for those who don’t know) successfully walks that tricky line between doing a Blaccent and doing “white girl who knows Black people” and I feel like she must have actually put in work and research to pull that off successfully where so many others fail miserably.

5. Colman Domingo’s vague African accent maybe not as successful? Also, I just looked him up to see where he was from (Philadelphia, dad is from Belize) and he’s gay. He has a whole husband and everything, so what a nice Pride Month bonus on the very last day.

6. Wow, what a surprising collection of ugly penises.

7. Greg from Succession is hilarious. I love that he’s basically playing Greg from Succession again, but the trailer park version. I wouldn’t mind if his whole career was various incarnations of Greg from Succession.

8. If I had never read the Twitter thread, I probably would have enjoyed the movie just a *smidge* more, because I was waiting for the next tweet/plotpoint to come in whenever the director was seemingly trying to fill time. I felt like she was writing an essay with a word requirement and she was trying to hit the threshold with empty space. If Zola needed to be an hour and ten minutes, then that’s what it needed to be.

9. Sex trafficking is scary. The biggest difference between the Twitter thread and this movie is the way Bravo more accurately depicts how terrifying it is to be pimped and to be under the control of a man who is using you for money. I don’t remember being afraid for any of the characters on Twitter. I was afraid for everyone involved while watching the movie.

10. If your pee looks like Sunny Delight, bitch drink some WATER.

Score: 7/10 

 

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Hot Takes: Luca

Vespas aren’t that great. And it do be a lot of assholes riding them.

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1. Disney said, “Let’s make the gayest movie we can make that won’t be boycotted by Pat Robertson and One Million Moms.”

2. Disney also said, “Let’s make Call Me By Your Name but fishy, and let’s make The Shape of Water but the cartoon version.”

3. Disney also also said, “Let’s make a really good score!!!”

4. The big takeaway here is, if you’re different and everybody hates you, all you have to do is be good at some type of sporting event and you’ll have instant acceptance. I don’t know how you go from wanting to murder people to inviting them over for dinner, but whatever the trick is, somebody should’ve taught it to me in 7th grade as well.

5. Grandma is a boss. I bet she got some landmonster knocking the scales off that ol fishpussy every weekend.

6. If you win a triathlon as a relay with two other people against a little girl who is doing all three legs herself, should you really be bragging all the time about how great you are??? Somebody should’ve punched The Villain a long time ago.

7. One Arm Daddy kinda hot. I love when the gays are in charge of creative direction. If I was still writing Nifty Fanfic, I would definitely put Smart Hulk and One Arm Daddy in some smut together.

8. Vespas aren’t that great. And it do be a lot of assholes riding them.

9. So, we see in movies what we want to see, and if I take off the Pinkwash Lenses, there’s no queer coding in Luca, which is actually refreshing. A lot of times movies will have characters that we know are gay, without actually confirming they’re gay, so it’s like representation without representation. I hate that, because it’s pandering to an audience without actually giving that audience any content. Luca is just good storytelling about being an outsider, and watching it as someone who was an outsider at that age makes me want to tell gay jokes about it. This could also be a story about Black students integrating schools during segregation or poor kids being bussed to fancy districts or women enrolling at the Citadel.

10. There should be more movies pitched toward boys that show emotion in friendships and closeness between guys. Little boys can have feelings too, and I got misty thinking back to the little boy I was who wasn’t allowed to show any. Good job, Disney.

Score 8/10

 

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