New Release Movie Reviews
Oscar-winner McQueen’s first American studio thriller alters Lynda La Plante’s 30-year-old BBC series to present-day Chicago, and delivers on pretty much every level. Widows is the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amongst a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica (Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.
On the male side, Liam Neeson has enough gravitas that his very presence establishes a kind of spoiler. And Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall serve as one side of the brutally corrupt coin, with Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry as the other. Weaving a handful of characters into a web of corruption that threatens them all. In a dynamic opening sequence, several robbers lead by the fast-talking Harry (Liam Neeson) speed through the city with the police on their tail; the chase ends at a garage, with bloody gunfire and an abrupt explosion that leaves all of their wives grieving. McQueen’s swift visual style takes hold early on, as he cuts from the fiery death scene to the somber image of Harry’s wife Veronica (Viola Davis) mournfully gazing at the empty side of her bed.
“Widows” largely belongs to Davis, whose character steps into her husband’s shoes when every other option runs out. The actress has never been more commanding: Veronica’s a stern, driven woman, but even she’s unprepared when local criminal Jamal (Brian Tyree Henry) bursts into her lavish apartment one night demanding the money that her husband stole from him. He gives her a couple of weeks to deliver, and she finds a potential solution in one of husband’s old notebooks — details about a robbery the men never completed. Realizing that the other widows all face a similar retaliation, she lures them to a sauna where she lays out the scheme. Davis clearly has a blast intimidating everyone in the room, and it’s notable that her plan isn’t optional: If they don’t play ball, they’re all screwed. McQueen, who wrote the screenplay with “Gone Girl” author Gillian Flynn, strikes an ironic and involving tone. Both playful and dead serious, “Widows” leaves you uncertain if the filmmaker is shining at the audience.
20th Century Fox will release “Widows” theatrically on Friday, November 16.
LaToya G. Ricketts, MPA
A captivating film adaptation of a novel rocked the hearts of millions of movie watchers everywhere. The Hate U Give tackles the issues of police brutality and racism while telling a brilliant love story colliding two different worlds to create a powerful film that will leave you breathless. When the audience first meets her in George Tillman Jr.’s film, her stern-voiced dad, Maverick (Russell Hornsby), is teaching his children what to do if a police officer stops the car they’re in. Put their hands on the dashboard; do as they say. It’s the difference between life and death.
The Hate U Give tells the story of high school teen Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) who struggles between her home in Garden Heights living with her mother, father and siblings in a poor predominately African American neighborhood. Meanwhile going to a private school in Williamson a Caucasian neighborhood. Disconnection in between Starr’s life causes her to struggle with her identity as she must adapt to her environment which causes her to present different versions of herself at home and in school. Both of her worlds are changed when she is a witness to her best friend Khalil (Algee Smith) an unarmed teen being shot by an on duty police officer. Coping with his death, Starr must navigate through politics deal with hostility and most of all weather to stay silent or be a voice for her friend. The event is a seismic one for the community and for Starr, who finds herself swept up in the media frenzy and the outrage. She suffers from post-traumatic stress and seems to wander the halls of her school, unsure of what’s she doing there at all. She’s hardly alone in her efforts as the supporting cast includes Issa Rae, Anthony Mackie and Common.
As Starr’s parents, Hornsby and Regina Hall also share a nuanced and complicated dynamic—a loving couple who feel differently about how best to raise their children, in the difficult neighborhood in which they grew up or elsewhere. The director is George Tillman Jr, who made Notorious and the title itself is taken from Tupac’s Thuglife, an acronym for “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone”. By the end of the movie, Starr suggests a radical change in attitude, and in fact a change to the third word of this title – the “U”. The cast does a phenomenal job at bringing this novel to life and their performances really told the real life story of what many Americans deal with on and every day basis. This is the story of a 16-year-old girl “intro to race in America,” learning that the world is even worse than what she knew. In my screening of “The Hate U Give,” there were tears, gasps, laughs and cheers. This film is definitely something for the whole family to watch!
Ms. Johneshia Howard