I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Grandma (2015)

Elle (Lily Tomlin) has just broken up with her partner Olivia (Judy Greer) when her granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) shows up with a problem.  Sage is pregnant, and she needs money for an abortion that she has scheduled for that day.

Elle doesn't have the money, but with her granddaughter in tow, she drives around to see if she can borrow it from old friends.  The movie is not exactly about the granddaughter's dilemma, but a study of Elle, an older woman with a lot of back stories in her life.

I've always loved Lily Tomlin, from the time I was a little girl watching her on "Laugh-In".  She is suited perfectly for the role of an opinionated woman who has always lived the way she wanted, and is not in the mood for putting up with much.  Her character has some great one-liners, but there are plenty of moments when her expressions say things better than the words.

Sam Elliott plays an old flame of Elle's, has a reunion with her.  He's only in a few scenes, but they are very effective.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

There were five guys in the popular and influential rap group NWA.  The movie only focuses on three of them: Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Jr.), and the late Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell).  I'm guessing that could be because they are the most well-known of the group.  But I kept wishing that MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) and DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.) could have been shown more than just supporting players.

The movie is what it is.  It starts off strong, showing that yes, Eazy-E was dealing drugs.  Dr. Dre was a club DJ working for peanuts, and getting grief at home from his mom about that.  Ice Cube was writing lyrics, but he was involved with another rap group at that time.  Dr. Dre makes a deal with Eazy-E, to bankroll a recording with Eazy-E on the microphone, and brings the group together.  

The record becomes a hit, and then enters Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) who makes a deal with Eazy-E to make the group more popular.  But like another rap song said, "More money, more problems".  The movie then goes slightly downhill, covering artists feeling taken advantage of, egos clashing, partying to excess, drug use, etc., but not making those scenes feel fresh.  There were also times the story felt like it was jumping around, especially during the last half of the film.

Others involved in NWA's history make an appearance in the story including Snoop Dogg (Keith Stanfield), Tupac Shakur  (Marcc Rose), and Suge Knight (R. Marcos Taylor).  O'Shea Jackson Jr., who plays Ice Cube in this movie, is the son of Ice Cube (real name, O'Shea Jackson Sr.).  

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Sunday, August 02, 2015

Southpaw (2015)

Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) wins a boxing title, and he's on top of the world.  His wife, Maureen (Rachel Adams) has got his back, and the couple's daughter, Leila (Oona Laurence), is a smart girl.  But this is a boxing movie, and that means the main character has to go through hardship and be tested.

Billy loses everything in a rapid fashion.  An out-of-the-ring altercation with another boxer (Miguel Gomez) looking for a title shot leads to the accidental murder of his wife.  Billy's daughter is taken away and put in child protective services.  His manager, Jordan (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson), moves on from him.  Billy's house is foreclosed on.

Billy ends up on the doorstep of a gym run by ex-boxer Tick Willis (Forest Whitaker), in search of a job as well as a trainer.  But circumstances threaten to keep Billy down for the count permanently.

This film got mixed reviews, mostly on the down side.  But it's not bad.  As the film goes on, it gets easier to root for the main character.  However, I had a problem with the wife being jettisoned early on as a catalyst for the main character to start a journey.  Why does the woman character always get treated as a throwaway?  I wish more exploration had been opened up on the Tick character's life.  Tick seemed to have an interesting back story which the audience only learned a little about.

Gyllenhaal's punches and movement in the ring looked solid, especially the punches that were thrown in the fight that ends the movie.  The film also included real-life members of the boxing community for authenticity:  Jim Lampley and Jimmy Lennon Jr. (announcers), Lou Di Bella (promoter), and Roy Jones Jr. (boxer/announcer).

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