A wannabe cerebral thriller that doesn’t quite graduate to the complex level many expected, Antebellum is nonetheless an intriguing concept elevated by the performance of Janelle Monáe.
The film finds Monáe’s Veronica on a plantation, surrounded by other Black men and women who have been enslaved to their confederate white captors. If you have seen the trailers, however, you know that all is not what it seems. Antebellum gives viewers a horrific glimpse into slavery and the dangerous discriminatory actions that once were commonplace in the United States. In the end, the film seeks to hold a mirror up to modern times in reflection of the pervasive racist attitudes that manifest themselves through different means today. Monáe is fantastic in her role as a sociologist author focused on diversity issues, carrying each seen with a range of emotions mastered by the best actors today (give her all of the roles!). Gabourey Sidibe, one of the supporting actors with a limited role, is clearly having a blast as the boisterous friend specializing in relationship psychology. She was an absolute pleasure to watch every time she was on screen.
Ultimately, Antebellum does come up short in falling back to a simplistic storytelling that circles the intended message without diving in and hammering it home. Viewers are left wanting to know more about the people and the circumstances that lead to the films events. How did the villains, such as Jena Malone’s character (ignoring the terrible accent), come to be? How have they been able to do what they have done? There is zero character development outside of the focus on Monáe.
Issues aside, Antebellum is a fine movie that honestly hooked me from the very beginning, but it could have been so much more.
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With Tuesday being National Voter Registration Day, Amazon will be making All In: The Fight for Democracy available to stream for free via Amazon Prime, Twitch, YouTube, and Twitter. Using the controversial 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp as a foundation, the film expertly explains the lengths to which those in power will go to keep said power through voter suppression tactics. Read our review of the incredible documentary here.
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As Netflix continues to load up on future film projects, the company has acquired The Hunt For Atlantis, an adaptation of the popular book from Andy McDermott. The story is one of a series of quests for mythological locations, something Netflix no doubt wants to capitalize on moving forward. Aaron Berg is writing and producing alongside Matt Reeves and Adam Kassan, also serving as producers.
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The strange film The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, where Nicolas Cage interacts with an egotistical 90s version of himself and somehow gets involved with a Mexican drug cartel, has added Tiffany Haddish as a government agent. Pedro Pascal and Sharon Horgan also star in the action-dramedy.
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A quirky, bizarre film that aspires to be more than it is, Kajillionaire simply fails to climb out of the strange bog it establishes for itself, instead winding up as a tour de force in cinematic boredom.
Writer/director Miranda July helms this odd story of two con artists and their 20-something daughter, constantly stealing and scamming until a stranger enters the picture and derails their lives. Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger star as the parents while Evan Rachel Wood plays Old Dolio, the sheltered daughter. There simply is not much here to work with. The script is a dull exercise in storytelling that fails to weave together an accessible narrative, wasting the talents of those involved with lackluster characters that are forgettable as soon as the credits roll. Gina Rodriquez, the aforementioned stranger who enters the family’s orbit, is most at home in her role, as limited as it is.
There is a message buried deep somewhere within Kajillionaire, though it never quite reveals itself. Moments of levity and humor come and go, exchanged for cringeworthy interactions that don’t do much to pull the audience in. Perhaps the ultimate goal of exploring Old Dolio’s journey was to show the ability to grow out of the confines of the life that we find ourselves in, I’m not sure. Ultimately the film flatlines somewhere in the middle and never quite recovers, instead feeling as though you’re watching something twice the length that drags you to the end with it.
Kajillionaire hits theaters Friday.
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