Tina Turner ascends to stardom under the cruel shadow of her abusive husband Ike.
Directed by Brian Gibson
Starring Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne
Review by Jon Kissel
What's Love Got To Do With It
In the time before Walk Hard, when everyone wasn’t wise to the tropes and rhythms of the musician biopic and they came out at a slower clip than they do today, What’s Love Got To Do With It experienced critical and commercial acclaim by turning one of the most energetic singers and performers into a terrified victim of spousal abuse. Tina Turner’s career can be divided into the half that she spent with her cruel husband Ike, a brief interregnum where she struggled to feed her children after divorcing Ike in a one-sided settlement, and the half that she toured the globe, selling out arenas and starring in movies opposite Mel Gibson. Brian Gibson’s film focuses entirely on the first half, a choice that doesn’t bury the film but does make the viewer consider alternatives. A good biopic is the kind that doesn’t take its subject from cradle to grave, and What’s Love Got To Do It finds a tidy arc in the portion of Turner’s life it covers.
The Banshees of Inisherin
Playwright/filmmaker brothers Martin and John Michael McDonagh have made eight films between them. In the best of them, John Michael’s Cavalry stars Brendan Gleeson as a version of Paul Schrader’s lonely man, the last decent priest during a period of maximal Irish disillusionment towards Catholicism. Martin’s experienced greater success with films like In Bruges and Three Billboards, but thanks to the brilliance of Cavalry, the superior comedy of John Michael’s The Guard, and an insistence on working on American-set films despite neither McDonagh doing their best work in the US, Martin’s been stuck in his brother’s shadow. With The Banshees of Inisherin, Martin’s finally made a film that matches his older brother by returning to the McDonagh’s ancestral home of Ireland. The bleak melancholy of the setting and the wry humor of the characters are a perfect mix in Martin’s best film to date. Despite its setting amidst the Irish Civil War, the McDonagh brothers need not fight against each other for supremacy. They can now lay claim to their own masterpieces.
The Shape of Water
It’s easy to dismiss The Shape of Water as that light fantasy movie about bestiality between a human woman and male frog-man. Even its Best Picture win doesn’t stop the jokes at its expense. In the spirit of accuracy, the dismissive stance is a factual statement, in that interspecies sex does indeed happen, but the fish-man also chomps on a finger. Why isn’t The Shape of Water the finger-chomping movie? Joyful director Guillermo del Toro’s most commercially and critically successful work deserves better than late-night jokes, because under its outre logline is a stunning and endlessly enjoyable film that reserves its greatest sympathies for cripples, bastards, and broken things (to borrow a phrase from George RR Martin) at the end of the conservative and stilted pre-60’s era. If that happens to include a lonely yet horny frog-man, then so be it.
Drumming is one of those things that film and TV tend to treat amateurishly, something for bored teens to try out and then stash in a closet. AJ Soprano giving drums a half-hearted effort before selling them for club money comes to mind, or Nick Andopolis from Freaks and Geeks adding new pieces to his set without becoming good at the ones he already has. Along comes Whiplash to fully justify that trope. As depicted here, becoming great at this instrument seems next to impossible, an artistic/athletic act that requires gallons of sweat, pints of blood, and ounces of sanity. In the world of Whiplash, an amateur or a dilettante gets a cymbal thrown at their head.
Menace II society
Boyz N the Hood made a huge splash in 1991 as an unflinching coming-of-age story for young Black teens growing up in the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles. Netting first-time director John Singleton a Best Director Oscar nomination at only 24, the film was a critical and commercial success and spawned a decade-long series of imitators. Twin directors Allen and Albert Hughes might’ve walked into a theater to see Boyz and taken it as a dare. Two years later, they’ll have made Menace II Society at a younger age than Singleton while also moving the harsh world of Boyz a few miles south to Watts for an uglier and more raw film that’s no less affecting. It’s no surprise that the easier to take film of the two was more successful, but twenty years later, the Hughes Brothers’ approach is the riskier and therefore more admirable approach. Boyz is a one-who-got-out story while Menace is an empathy test, and all things being equal, Menace’s degree of difficulty makes it one of the better coming-of-age films of the 90’s, regardless of location.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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