Saturday, January 9, 2021
In a new twist on The Loft Cinema Open Air series, they will be screening some new films in the out of doors, starting with the movie featured below.
This week's movie roundup features Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Chloe Grace Moretz kicking unholy ass...
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
Now playing at The Loft Cinema as part of the Outdoor Series, and at Harkin’s Tucson
One week only before streaming on Amazon Prime
Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) get together for a night in Miami for some ice cream and beer. What’s supposed to be a night of pals partying turns into a series of heated debates about the plight of the black man in the ’60s in Regina King’s strong adaptation of the Kemp Powers fictional, yet very authentic feeling, play.
The film itself, like the recent Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, has the restraint of limited locations (in this case, a hotel room) that an adapted play usually offers. King uses flashbacks and some outdoor scenes to keep the film moving along at a strong pace that allows it to feel a little freer in the spectrum of film than Black Bottom. This one feels more like a “movie.” Big kudos to King for that. I didn’t research the movie before watching it, and only slightly suspected it had originated as a play while taking it in.
All of the lead performances are exemplary. Leslie Odom Jr., who had a nice 2020 with this and the film adaptation of Hamilton, is my pick for the movie’s MVP. His Cooke squaring off with Ben-Adir’s Malcolm X against strong suggestions that he is a sellout is potent stuff. He also gets to put his amazing singing voice to the test in flashbacks where Cooke is performing. He passes in a big way.
Ben-Adir does a solid job of showing the power of Malcolm X, while realistically depicting some of the natural fears a man of his stature was facing with all of the death threats he endured. (He would be assassinated soon after this play’s setting.) Goree makes for a fine Clay (soon to be Ali), giving a performance that is far from caricature. Brown, perhaps the most laid back of this crowd, exhibits a quiet power thanks to Hodge’s work.
It’s definitely a supergroup movie, featuring super actors and directed by a promising actress-turned-director in King.
SHADOW IN THE CLOUDS
Now playing at Roadhouse Cinemas and Harkins Tucson
Chloe Grace Moretz takes a nice, successful run at being an action hero in this hysterical genre mashup that sees her WWII character battling sexism, Japanese fighter pilots and, oh yeah, a big-assed gremlin.
Moretz is Maude, a mysterious, last-minute passenger on a fighter plane flying what’s supposed to be a non-combat mission. She has a parcel that is not allowed to be opened, a gun nobody knows about, and a really bad English accent. The all-male crew of pigheaded trash talkers stick her in the gun turret beneath the plane and start jawing about all the gross things they’d like to do to her.
Not long into the flight, Twilight Zone style, Maude sees something crawling on the plane, while also seeing a possible enemy fighter beneath the plane. Director Roseanne Liang, with the help of some snap editing, terrific special effects, and pulsing soundtrack, cranks up the crazed action in a way that will have you cackling with glee.
The film is a blast. It goes way off the rails of plausibility, but you won’t care. Maude faces all of her enemies with fierce success, thanks to some of Moretz’s best screen work to date. She has a film career kicking ass ahead of her if she wants one.
In addition to the Twilight Zone, the film pays fun homage to that great Warner Bros. cartoon where Bugs Bunny battled a gremlin on his plane (most notably with a propaganda-like animated preview). It’s a fun film, and it gets 2021 off to an entertaining start.