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Hot Takes: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Aaron Sorkin had me on his side right up until the end…and then spit in my face.



1. Is Sacha Baron Cohen quietly one of the most underrated actors of our generation? He’s going into awards season playing an intellectual Vietnam protestor….and Borat. And he should absolutely be recognized for both.

2. Also, I understand Jeremy Strong as an actor a bit more I think. I love Succession (Team Shiv!) and I do think Kendall Roy is an interesting one to watch, but never having seen him in anything else, I’ve never been totally sure about his performance. I’m sure now. He’s playing that character exactly right, and he played the counterpart to Cohen’s character in Chicago 7 exactly right as well. Good job, sir.

3. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby Seale is the real force though. He is so committed and I fully believe him as a Black Panther in the 60s. I’ve seen Kelvin Harrison Jr. in a few things (Luce is exceptional) and I have no qualms toward him, but his portrayal of Fred Hampton didn’t really pop to me the way I would’ve expected it to, but maybe that was a deliberate choice by Aaron Sorkin so as not to compete with Bobby Seale.

4. There really is so much good acting. I’ve never hated a judge more than I hated Frank Langella. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is completely believable as a twerpy little agent of the government. Michael Keaton makes the most of this limited time. Eddie Redmayne is very good at playing characters I have to root for, because of the story, but don’t really like. Great casting all around.

5. This is an Aaron Sorkin production. You either like Aaron Sorkin or you don’t. If you hate Aaron Sorkin, then you probably won’t love this movie, but I usually enjoy the way he puts dialogue together and I like the pace of his stuff, so it all worked for me.

6. I watched this movie with someone else and I got the sense that if you don’t know anything about the Vietnam protests or the 1968 election cycle or you’ve never heard about the riots in Chicago (or across the country really), you might be a little bit lost in the beginning when the players are being introduced. Sorkin does a good job of identifying everyone with title cards, but it’s a lot of names a lot of information if you’re completely unfamiliar with the political climate at that time. You can go into it blind (he knew what was going on by the end) but if you’re annoyed by being in a fog during a movie, brush up a little first.

7. I’ve only said good things! Which is rare! And that’s about to end now. If I stopped this review right here it’d get a solid 8 from me but I’m about to bust this foolishness all the way down to a 4 because the ending pissed me off to no end.




At the end of the movie, Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne) is being addressed by the judge because Hayden is the least offensive of the defendants. He’s a clean-cut, stand-up kid who seems to respect the court, so the judge tells him to keep his remarks brief, respectful, and remorseful, and he’ll keep that in mind for sentencing. Hayden decides to read the list of Americans who have died in Vietnam since their trial began — almost 5,000 names. The music swells, the courtroom stands, and the movie ends.


“Why are you so mad? Directors change bits of the story all the time!”

I’m mad because this particular bit of the story is the most obnoxious change I’ve seen to a true story in some time. First of all, David Dellinger (not Tom Hayden) attempted to read the names earlier in the trial and was quickly silenced by the court. What actually happened during sentencing is, the defendants (not just Hayden, but others as well) addressed racism in the criminal justice system. When I watched the movie I was like “wait…that doesn’t feel right to me” because I had briefly studied the Chicago 7 in high school and I thought I remembered some very pro-Black statements. I did. I just looked them up.

This is what Jerry Rubin said: What you are doing out there is creating millions of revolutionaries. Julius Hoffman, you have done more to destroy the court system in this country than any of us could have done. All we did was go to Chicago and the police system exposed itself as totalitarian. And I am glad we exposed the court system because in millions of courthouses across this country blacks are being shuttled from the streets to the jails and nobody knows about it. They are forgotten men. There ain’t a whole corps of press people sitting and watching. They don’t care. You see what we have done is, we have exposed that. Maybe now people will be interested in what happens in the courthouse down the street because of what happened here. Maybe now people will be interested.

David Dellinger said: Whatever happens to us, however unjustified, will be slight compared to what has happened already to the Vietnamese people, to the black people in this country, to the criminals with whom we are now spending our days in the Cook County jail.

Tom Hayden (who Sorkin has reading off Vietnam casualties): I have sat there in the Cook County Jail with people who can’t make bond, with people who have bum raps, with people who are nowhere, people who are the nothings of society, people who say to me, “You guys burned your draft cards. I would like to burn my birth certificate so they can never find me again.”

Why did Aaron Sorkin decide to scrap this?

Last year, the US saw protests against the establishment on a scale we had not seen since the 1960s when this movie took place. The conversation about Black people and the criminal justice system is at the front of everyone’s minds. Sorkin just made a movie set during the Civil Rights movement. He shows a Black Panther being beaten by law enforcement in the film. Fred Hampton is assassinated during the film and Sorkin shows its effect on Bobby Seale. But the end of the movie, when the white protagonists show solidarity with Black people, Sorkin decides to take that out??? 

I don’t get it and it pisses me off that it’s not in the movie. It’s a baffling decision that I don’t understand, so if anybody who has seen the movie has any insight into what happened, feel free to let me know and I can come back an add some additional information.



Score: 4/10
Venmo: Rafi-DAngelo
CashApp: $RafiDAngelo




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Hot Takes: Malignant

Malignant is the funniest movie of the year, and that’s not really a criticism.



1. This movie is so dumb. I strained an eyeball rolling them so hard. I’ve never groaned so much in my life.

2. This movie knows its dumb! I truly feel like every single person involved in the making of this movie, especially director James Wan, is winking at us and expecting us to wink back. From the awful dialogue to the awkward placement of dramatic music to the predictably stupid actions of the characters, anytime something stupid happened, I felt like Wan was looking dead at me giggling.

3. And I mean STUPID actions of the characters. Why would you go to an abandoned mental hospital on a cliff at night by yourself with no weapon? That’s not a spoiler, because that sentence will make no sense to you until you watch her almost drive off the cliff. But stuff like that felt like, “Yes, people behave in stupid ways in horror movies, so let’s make it super stupid.”

4. I’m quite sure the women’s holding cell at any local jail in the Pacific Northwest does not look like that. Those women were all prostitutes from the 1970s.

5. I went with a friend (who didn’t like it as much as I did and gave the movie a 6) and we both agreed that we didn’t accurately predict the killer. In some ways we were right, and in some ways we were wrong, but when the story is pieced together in the last act, it’s very much a groan/eyeroll/how didn’t I see that coming. I was hollering at the inventiveness though! I personally have never seen this kind of killer.

6. Speaking of inventive, the killer fights backwards. The massacre at the precinct is so much fun and I was howling the entire time. I think that’s where they spent all their money because the whole movie looks like a Cinemax production from 1994.

7. The commitment to bangs is admirable.

8. There are some genuinely shocking and frightening scares in Malignant, which I loved, but for the most part I was laughing the entire time at how ridiculous the whole thing was. I’m not sure who this horror movie is for actually. It’s polarizing, but not in the way a horror movie would typically be, where horror fans are of one mind and causal fans are of another. I’ve seen horror fans love this movie and horror fans hate it. I’m a casual viewer and I thought it was so much fun and so stupidly creative but my friend was “meh” on it. So I don’t know whether to recommend it or not because I don’t see any consistent trends for who likes it and who doesn’t.

9. So here are the PROS: the villain is a new take on an old trope, which I love.
The action scenes are excellent. They’re done very well and this fight choreographer really thought about how people move.
It’s fun! It’s a “talk to the screen” kind of horror movie. “Why are you doing that? Don’t go in there! Turn around!!”

10. Here are the CONS:
The dialogue is clunky! (which I found fun, because it made it feel that much more low-budget 90s B Movie)
The acting is clunky! (which I also found fun, because I felt like they were doing it on purpose)
The music is awful and almost always terribly misplaced! (which, again, I found fun! I laughed every time)
The twist ending leaves a VERY LARGE PLOT HOLE from the first act and I need somebody to explain that fight to me.

11. Bonus for Black Millennials and Gen X:

Michole Briana White plays the lead detective! I don’t think I’ve seen her in anything other than commercials since the 90s.

Score: 8/10
Venmo: Rafi-DAngelo
CashApp: $RafiDAngelo

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Watch: Passing (Trailer)



Netflix has another great story on their hands and we will definitely be talking about it when it comes out in a couple of weeks.

Rebecca Hall has made her directorial debut with Passing, a novel from a few years ago about two mixed girls who were friends as children and become reacquainted as adults. Tessa Thompson’s character still identifies as Black, while Ruth Negga is passing as white and is married to a racist.

I love it. I’m all in. I’m a little skeptical of a British white woman tackling a novel about Black people in America in 1929, but at the heart, I think Passing will be more of a character study than a treatise on race. And since it needs nuanced acting to pull it off, I’m ready to suspend belief for two hours and go with Ruth Negga being able to pass, because obviously she could not, but she’s a fantastic actress.

When I think of women who would be considered colored in 1929 if people knew her parentage but have the phenotype to pass for white with a little makeup and possibly a peroxide blonde hairdo, Ruth Negga isn’t on the list. Meghan Markle is.

Troian Bellisario would absolutely pass, even without going blonde.

Most people don’t realize Halsey has any Black heritage at all.

Sofia Richie barely has a trace of Lionel in her on first glance.

And Mariah wouldn’t have been nearly as big right out the gate if she hadn’t been assumed to be the white Whitney Houston.

But that’s the thing about movies. If the actor is right, we forget what they look like until the movie is over. The trailer is only two minutes, but if we just  acknowledge now that nobody would assume this was a white woman, we can all go ahead and get over it so we can settle into the performance when the time comes. Passing has Oscar-bait written all over it.

Edit 5:59pm.

I was so focused on Ruth Negga not being able to pass that I completely forgot Rebecca Hall is the daughter of a mixed-race opera singer. Rebecca herself would’ve been considered colored in 1929 and would’ve been a much better person for the role.
Venmo: Rafi-DAngelo
CashApp: $RafiDAngelo


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Hot Takes: Black Widow

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



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
Venmo: Rafi-DAngelo
CashApp: $RafiDAngelo

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