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Melina Matsoukas' Queen & Slim Movie Review (2019): How to Get a Date Worth Keeping

Melina Matsoukas' Queen & Slim has received mixed reviews from critics. Most of the criticism circulating around praises the style and look of the film and the reverence the camera bestows upon black community. Conversely, reviewers feel less complimentary about the overall message of the film and feel like it's too much emotion and not enough logic. I won't comment upon how race is handled in this film because there are others who are better informed (Angelica Bastien) and equipped (Kolby Mac) to write such a post. But I did want to touch on some points I haven't heard anyone talk about yet: the perils of online dating and how the couple's bad Tinder date ends up in a ride or die love.

A brief summary for those who are unfamiliar with the movie: Queen & Slim meet for dinner at a "black owned" establishment for dinner. They don't seem to have much in common. On the drive home, a white police officer pulls over their car because of "errat…
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Sean Baker's The Florida Project Movie Review: A Fairy Tale Set in Poverty

In fairy tales, every child is a prince or princess who eventually gets a happy ever after. But what if the princess's parents aren't queens or kings? What if this princess grew up within the world of what Florida Project's director, Sean Baker, calls the hidden homeless?

Just outside the walls and fences surrounding the self-proclaimed "Happiest Place on Earth" -- Walt Disney World -- there are people with no permanent housing, who choose, for whatever reason, to shack up for long periods of time at brightly colored motor hotels. The majority of The Florida Project takes place at the Magic Castle Inn and Suites, with its all-lavender facade looking less than picturesque.

Our princess, Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) lives at the inn with her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite), who perfectly encapsulates what we used to call a "fun mom." Moonnee spends much of the movie running around the inn and its neighboring properties -- other inns, the local ice cream parlor…

Thoughtless Questions: How Did He/She Die?

A few years ago, my older sister died. Although I have dealt with death a few times within my family, this first death within my nuclear family has granted me greater awareness of the many challenges survivors face after a loved one dies. One of the most significant challenges is dealing with the many questions people ask after a life ends. The people who ask these questions don't have bad intentions yet the questions they ask are thoughtless.

One such question is: How did she/he die?
My hope in writing this article is to share why you should avoid asking this question, why I believe people ask this question, and, for those who want to show support to survivors, provide alternative talking points. 
First, I want to share part of my story. I am currently 43 years old. A few years ago, my older sister died. As you can imagine, it wasn't expected. It was a tragedy in every sense of the word. Unexpected, terrible, and shocking, are all words I could use to describe the events that …

Alma Har'el's Honey Boy Movie Review: Gut-wrenching memoir about childhood trauma and its after-effects

When I was choosing which films I would attend for Film Fest 919, there were some tough decisions to be made. But there were some absolute must-see films on this list. For me, one such film was Honey Boy. Once I saw the trailer, I was hooked. Although the preview trailer had few details, I knew the plot somehow revolved around the past of a troubled young boy and how that past informed the present life choices of a troubled man. I also knew one Shia LaBeouf was going to portray his own father, and that the screenplay was based on his life. I knew I would love this movie, and that I would probably cry multiple times.

Otis (Lucas Hedges) is a stunt worker for films. At the beginning, we see him hooked up to a harness of some kind. Although it's part of his job, it's clear that his work is dangerous and involves him being put into some unpleasant situations. In a tight montage, we see him drinking, frolicking with a some nameless woman, getting arrested, and acting surly. Cut to…

Derek Tsang's Better Days: A Bleak Portrait of School Bullying, Test Anxiety, and Selfless Love

Stories with bullied characters at the center have always resonated with me. When I was young, I read Judy Blume's Blubber. Portraits of weak, vulnerable characters being tortured relentlessly are the stuff of my nightmares. Although I was never bullied as Chen Nian is, I had some close calls, and I can only imagine the helplessness felt by those who are bullied. There is always a temptation to think, "Oh that can't be real. Real kids wouldn't do that." Well, yes, it can. If bullies existed in my day, I can only imagine it's even worse, with bullies able to use cellphones to embarrass people in new ways.

In Better Days, Chen Nian goes to a prestigious school where all of the students are counting down the days until "gaokao," a well-publicized exam that happens each year in China. It's the only measure that decides where you go to college, with the highest scorers getting first choice. There's a tremendous pressure to do well on this test, …

Bong Joon-ho's Parasite (2019): An Allegorical Roller Coaster Ride From Class Horror to Caper Crime

Energetic, sly, smart Parasite takes viewers on allegorical rollercoaster ride through class horror, bitingly humorous caper crime, and touching family bonds.

Meet the Kim family. They live in the slums of Korea in a tiny basement apartment, dominated by a toilet that sits like a throne on the highest place of honor in the space. This quirky setting piece tells you everything you need to know about the Kim family and will play a very important role in what is to come.

The Kim clan, family of four, are survivors. They are smart, savvy, and resourceful. They also all seem to have the gift of gab and can charm others into giving them a break. How, on Earth, are these delightful people so dirt poor and ready to fold pizza boxes just to make a lousy buck? Hey, this is Korea, and there's little room for social climbing. Unless, you have the right friends. Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi) is asked by his friend to take over his job of tutoring the sweet, but somewhat dumb, Da-Hye, daughter of the…

Every FILM FEST 919 movie I watched, ranked

In October 2019, I attended my first ever film festival in entirety. I spent four days, from a Wednesday evening until a Sunday evening, living and breathing film appreciation. Although I did take breaks to sleep and eat, it was a very intensive sprint of watching as many movies as possible, without going insane. Although I hope to write individual reviews of each film, at the very least I wanted to look at all the movies in comparison to one another. Below, find my rankings of all the films I watched. To create this ranking, I looked at three aspects.

Enjoyment: Did I enjoy watching the film on a visceral level
Technical merit: Things like good acting, pretty to look at, screenplay, art of story, sound editing
Importance: How unique and important is that this story be told.

I then had to do some shifting to ease my conscience. But, just a disclaimer: I didn't any movies that were "bad" or "not worth seeing." The festival curators did an excellent job choosing …