Category Archives: Half-assed

Where Hands Touch

Leyna (Amandla Stenberg) is the only person of colour in her village. She’s aware of that fact, of course, all too aware, but it’s not until her 16th birthday when her difference starts to truly matter, so her mother packs her and little brother Koen up and takes them to Berlin where they can be ‘invisible.’ But Berlin isn’t any safer for a biracial girl in 1944. Leyna and her family live in fear, and Leyna’s mother Kerstin (Abbie Cornish) is so desperate she sacrifices her relationship with her own family to obtain some false papers for her daughter, papers that promise Leyna will never commit the crime of racial mixing with a German aryan, papers that claim she has been sterilized.

Koen joins the Hitler Youth, compulsory for every aryan boy, and his mother is trying her best to temper the hate he learns there with the values and morals of home. As for daughter Leyna, Kerstin is just trying to keep her alive, a feat made more difficult after Leyna falls in love with Lutz (George MacKay), himself a member of the Hitler Youth, and the son of a prominent SS officer. This could get them both killed – it has become obvious that the Nazis aren’t just hunting Jewish people, but anyone deemed “impure.”

There’s obviously an interesting story in there somewhere, but the script by writer-director Amma Asante doesn’t quite sniff it out. Possibly the best thread to follow would be that of Kerstin’s relationship with her children, both rebellious in their ways, and her struggle to balance her beliefs with what will keep the family safe, not unlike Scarlett Johansson’s Oscar-nominated turn in Jojo Rabbit.

Instead we experience the world from Leyna’s perspective. Amandla Stenbert does good work, but Leyna is a teenager, confused and confident at the same time. She insists she wants nothing more than to be treated like any other “good German,” which, considering the context, is kind of uncomfortable. Against the backdrop of millions of Jewish people being led to slaughter, it sort of feels like Leyna has shown up to a Black Lives Matter protest with a sign that reads “All Lives Matter.” Leyna’s youth sees only injustice against herself, and her lack of awareness or irony starts to feel worryingly tone deaf.

The increasingly improbable love story does little to recommend itself and its compassion feels miserly and misplaced. Sean and I recently watched Schindler’s List (he for the first time), a perfect reminder that there are plentiful and worthier movies on the subject, ones that manage to paint a fuller and more accurate picture.

 

 

Irresistible

Hilary campaigners woke up with a tremendous political hangover on November 9th, 2016. Liberals began to realize that they’d been living in bubbles. They were fundamentally surprised by their loss, surprised that so many people across America could vote against their own best interests. Where had they gone wrong? And how do we begin to address that disconnect?

Democrat strategist Gary (Steve Carrell) is disillusioned, like a lot of us. He regroups and refocuses in conservative, smalltown (swing state) Wisconsin, USA where he finds an unlikely candidate in Col. Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper). Jack Hastings likely doesn’t know what it means to go viral, but he has, for an impassioned speech he gave to city council. Gary smells potential: Jack, a veteran, a farmer, a widower; you couldn’t build a better crossover candidate if you tried, and god knows they have. Jack’s a Democrat…he just doesn’t know it yet. It’s just one rural mayoral race, but maybe that’s a foothold the Democrats badly need to expand their base – a Democrat for the heartland, a “redder kind of blue.”

Writer-director Jon Stewart is a master satirist and for a long time he set the tone for how we voiced our discontent, how we parsed and digested the news, how we conquered our apathy and our hopelessness. He may have given up the anchor’s chair behind the desk of the Daily Show in 2015, but he’s clearly got more to say.

Irresistible is about the disingenuous handshake between money and politics. Mere seconds after Gary makes his move to Wisconsin, the other side sends rival strategist Faith (Rose Byrne) to even the odds. If anyone had any illusion that campaigns were about ideals, values, promises, or intentions, it was quickly, summarily, definitively dispersed. A campaign is about math: who has the most money, and how to turn those dollars into votes. It’s cynical as hell, but even with a glossy coat of Hollywood spin, it’s still not half as bad as real life. People don’t matter. They’re not individuals with specific needs and hopes, they’re reduced to “demographics,” a slick political term that divorces voters from their identity. Politicians don’t want to better your life, they want to trick you into believing in them for just long enough to cast a vote. And failing that, they want to trigger you into withholding your vote on the other side. Demographics are equations waiting to be solved, and campaigns hire lots of people to crack those numbers.

Jack represents a “redder kind of blue,” a shade of blue that people who are traditionally red would consider turning pink for. Except even children know that red and blue make purple, and that may be American democracy’s greatest failing. It forces 328 million people to contort themselves into one of two boxes: red, or blue. Both boxes suck and neither one fits anyone perfectly. Worse, though, it creates a dangerous “us” vs. “them” mentality. Its binary nature focuses on what divides us instead of what we share in common. It makes enemies of the other side, when in fact those people are our neighbours, our friends, our kin. We are capitalists. We thrive on choice. The pharmacy sells dozens of brands of toothpaste. The grocery store stocks even more brands of orange juice. You stand in front of the refrigerated case, and maybe you reach for the sweetest juice, or the one that’s locally sourced, or the one with the most vitamins, or the one with the most pulp, or the least pulp, or the cutest carton, or the most memorable commercials, or the healthiest ingredients, or maybe you just reach for whatever’s cheap. Or maybe you bypass the refrigerated section and buy a can of frozen orange juice, from concentrate. Or maybe you prefer the powdered stuff. Or the shelf-stable stuff. Or orange ‘drink.’ Or maybe, and yes this sounds crazy, but maybe you prefer cranberry juice. We need 87 orange juice options but only 2 political parties? Doesn’t that seem a little…crazy? But having that much choice means the brands have to be competitive. They have to care about what you, the consumer, wants. They have to bend to your will, not the other way around. If they want to make money, they have to be the most appealing and offer the very best. But the American political system forces you to choose between two disappointing options. Sure they could put some energy into finding out what you actually need, but instead they embrace the time-honoured American tradition of fear-mongering so you vote for them, or flinging mud so that you don’t vote for the other side.

Anyway, don’t worry, the movie doesn’t actually mention orange juice once. It’s just one of the tangents my mind follows when it’s been stimulated by something thoughtful, and interesting. While some critics didn’t care for it, I enjoyed Irresistible very much. I like Carrell’s charmingly pompous performance, and Stewart’s condescending liberal voice. I did wonder, for a while, what exactly was meant to be so irresistible, but of course the answer was right in front of me the whole time: money. To which Jon Stewart has just one simple message: resist.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

I will give it this: it is the funniest comedy of 2020. Is it (so far) the only comedy of 2020? Basically yes. But as this movie teaches us: sometimes you win just by showing up.

Lars (Will Farrell) has been obsessed with Eurovision since he was a little boy.

[For us non-Europeans, a crash course in Eurovision Song Contest, which is a real thing: it’s an annual international song competition, held every year since 1956, with participants from many of the 50 eligible countries (confusingly, some eligible countries are not European, and one, Scotland, is not even a country). Like the Olympics, each country holds internal trials and sends their best delegation to the competition, where an original song is to be performed on live TV and radio. Then people vote on their favourite. Countries cannot vote for themselves; each country awards two sets of points, one set decided by a panel of music industry experts, and the second decided by viewers voting by phone and text. Occasionally the winner achieves success outside of the broadcast area; Abba won for Sweden and Celine Dion won for Switzerland *record scratch* wait, what? That’s right: for some reason you don’t have to be from the country you’re representing. Some people compete multiple times by singing for different countries. Dion, who is ours (Canadian), was a good horse to bet on, but it does smack of cheating. Although, to be fair, so does every other thing about the contest. Russia won’t vote for queer performers and China won’t even show them. Jordan won’t show Israeli entries because they don’t recognize it as a country, and neither does Lebanon. And it seems that neighbouring countries tend to vote for each other; geographical and even political alliances pop up, and reciprocal votes are exchanged. You could even allocate points to an unpopular performance in order to boost your own relative success. 2020 was to be the show’s 65th anniversary, with this film’s release set to coincide with it. Alas, COVID has other plans, and for the first time, the contest was cancelled)]

Back to Lars (Will Ferrell), a little Icelandic boy who fell in love with Eurovision the day he first heard Abba sing Waterloo, much to his father’s disapproval. Many, many years later, Lars is now a middle-aged man but his dream is the same. His father’s (Pierce Brosnan) stance hasn’t changed, if anything, he’s more critical of his son’s “wasted life.” But his Fire Saga bandmate Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) has more than enough enthusiasm and encouragement to go around, and in their own heads, they’re already stars (the local pub tells an entirely different story, interrupting their original music to request Ja Ja Ding Dong, a silly but exceedingly catchy piece of shit – think of it as Iceland’s Chicken Dance). They’ll never get sent to compete on Eurovision on their own merits, but luckily the elves are on their side and something happens to tie up literally every other singer-songwriter in the country.

Off to Scotland they go: cue some fish out of water humour, some anti-American jabs, an oversexed Russian (Dan Stevens), and some pretty bizarre on-stage theatrics (which apparently are also a real thing – it’s a visual medium, and performers do their utmost to stand out). Iceland is basically the laughing stock of Eurovision.

This is the movie Will Ferrell was born to write. Scratch that: it’s the movie his wife was born for him to write (She’s Swedish – her family introduced him to the contest and he’s followed it rather ardently since 1999). That’s a pretty serious investment. He planted those comedy crops last century – does he harvest the rewards in this movie? Well, not exactly. His family won’t starve to death, but it’s a meager little crop, and a little mealy to boot. Sean thought it was pretty fun, and I won’t deny the film does have its merits. Will Ferrell is a larger than life comedian. His bits are always big so they either fail big or they win big, and with a 2 hour run time, the premise doesn’t quite have enough steam to keep paying out. Still, considering it’s on Netflix, your risk is small. If you’d paid to see this in a theatre, you’d probably leave feeling disappointed, but it’s just good enough for a Netflix view.

This is the second collaboration between director David Dobkin and stars Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams. They had no scenes together in Wedding Crashers, in fact Ferrell had a pretty small part, but it was a wildly and unexpectedly successful movie. Perhaps Will Ferrell in small doses is the key here, and it’s one that’s definitely lacking in this prohibitively-long-titled movie. As troubling is his character is, we’re doomed to follow him around through all his lows and lowers. Rachel McAdams is basically inoffensive. She’s not exactly known for her comedic chops, so she provides an earnest counterpoint to Ferrell’s hammy, over-the-top antics. It’s not a match made in heaven. It’s not even a great match for Iceland, whose couplings tend to be a touch inbred. But like the proud and wonderful Icelandic people, this movie is unabashedly, embracingly weird. And like Iceland’s relationship with Europe, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is not the best that Netflix has to offer, but occasionally it surprises you.

Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl is a series of quite beloved fantasy novels written by Eoin Colfer. If you are a fan of the books, may I suggest you put that aside right now and meet Artemis Fowl the movie as a similarly titled but only loosely based third cousin twice removed type situation.

Artemis Fowl (Ferdia Shaw) is a 12 year old genius rambling about his big old house in Ireland with only his definitely-not-a-butler manservant/bodyguard Domovoi Butler (Nonso Anozie) for company. He learns from TV that his father (Colin Farrell) has gone mysteriously missing (is that redundant? i think yes) and also, I think, that he’s behind some major art-thievery. Which is when Alfred Mr. Butler gently guides young Bruce Artemis down to the batcave secret lair and lays some truth on him: he comes from a family of criminal masterminds. He’s meant to be some sort of prodigy villain, and so donning the batsuit and sunglasses, he receives the obligatory ransom call and gets down to saving the world or maybe just his dad, I’m really not sure, this part wasn’t entirely clear to me.

Meanwhile, keeping in mind that Ireland is apparently quite magical, we’re introduced to some non-human characters such as Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad), a felonious oversized dwarf who seems like he would have bad breath, Holly Short (Lara McDonnell), who I think is a fairy, and her boss Commander Root (Judi Dench), who’s in charge of making sure magical creatures don’t mix with humans, and Juliet (Tamara Smart) who is some much younger relation of Mr. Butler’s and whose presence I never quite understood. Also various goblins, elves, trolls, Italians, and even a centaur with a sexy little canter. Most of these…beings…are technically enemies. Well, enemy is a strong word for people who don’t even know each other. Maybe “non-belligerent” is a better term for it, a term I picked up mere moments before watching this film thanks to a Spike Lee movie about the race discrimination and the Vietnam war (who knew these two movies would have so much this one thing in common!). Anyway, it’s hard to keep track of who’s on who’s side and what that side wants and why. And then there’s you know, alliances made and broken, objectives intended and abandoned, just stuff. Presumably. I don’t really know. There’s magical force fields/space-time continuums (?), dislocating jaws, and a coup against an 800 year old stickler for rules.

The movie is kind of a mess. This is a kid’s movie and I’m struggling to relay any of the plot points, and I’m frankly not even 100% convinced there were any, it may have just 90 minutes of pure pixie chaos for all I know. It hurt my brain to try to keep up, but on the other hand it wasn’t really interesting enough to pause let alone rewind.

Those who have read the book(s) will of course bring important supplemental information to the film, which will either a) make it a more pleasant, sensical viewing experience or b) make it that much more frustrating, just a big old soak in a bath of disappointment. I’m guessing it’s b but let’s not marinate in negativity. Let’s optimistically assume that you subscribed to Disney+ hoping for a child’s version of Men In Black where the aliens are now fairies and the good parts are now the suck and the idea of a sequel both frightens and confuses you.

If you wanna hear more, and you know you do: Youtube!

The Night Clerk

Bart Bromley is an Aspie; he’ll tell you as much in one of his many long-winded, one-sided “conversations.” Bart (Tye Sheridan) lives with his mother. Well, not so much “with” as very much separately, but in her basement. She (Helen Hunt) leaves his meals on the top stair, and he eats them alone, while watching his filmed-in-secret videos, studying and imitating the people he tapes. Wanting to be like them, or at least pretend more convincingly.

Bart is a hotel night clerk, which, not coincidentally, is a great place to hide a bunch of cameras and really get into voyeurism for real. He doesn’t mean to do anything bad, it’s just that observing people is how he learns to live among them. Inevitably (it seems), one night he checks in a woman who is then murdered in her hotel room. Bart is at home, watching it happen. He sprints back to work and arrives just in time for the detective (John Leguizamo) to find him covered in blood, standing over her body. Not a good look, and Bart’s demeanor doesn’t exactly exude innocence. Transferred to another hotel, he checks in Andrea (Ana de Armas), an even more beguiling guest, one who he can actually talk to. So it kinda sucks when it seems she might end up the next victim.

Sheridan and de Armas are actually quite good in this, which is frustrating because the movie itself is…not. Sheridan’s put in the work, and his performance is convincing, even if I’m not thrilled by how his Asperger’s is portrayed. The real problem is that for a thriller – for a murder mystery! – there are no thrills whatsoever. Not even a frisson. And even though there’s a murderer unaccounted for, we don’t really care. There’s no tension, no real worry. The detective is the most chill, low-key cop you’ve ever met, the mother is strangely hands-off, Bart’s boss is surprisingly accommodating, and Andrea is an understanding and receptive romantic interest. Never has being a murder suspect been so easy breezy!

Writer-director Michael Cristofer doesn’t find anything interesting beyond his basic premise, and he fails to make a significant connection with his audience.

The Vast of Night

Picture it: small town New Mexico, sometime in the late 1950s. On this particular evening, the whole town is crowded into the high school gym to watch a basketball game. It’s literally standing room only. The players’ shorts are very short; the cheerleaders’ skirts are very long. The town’s streets are all but deserted. The only two people who seem not to be at the game are a couple of intrepid teenagers – fast-talking Fay (Sierra McCormick) is the town’s telephone switchboard operator and charismatic Everett (Jake Horowitz) is hosting a live radio show. Fay is of course very faithfully tuned into the radio program and notices the broadcast is briefly interrupted by a strange audio frequency.

Few witness it of course, most people being at the game, but one man who does calls in with quite a story. He’s heard these tones before. And boy does he have some theories. From there, Fay and Everett get caught up in a night neither will ever forget.

The Vast of Night is a pretentious title for a film eager to live up to that insinuation. Stylistically it’s reminiscent of The Twilight Zone; a retro sci-fi throwback that strains the limits of its (low) budget but proves good ideas trump production value when it comes to building a watchable, suspenseful film. Most of all I enjoyed the dynamic between the two young actors. McCormick in particular has a massive job handling a demanding long take but handles it like a true professional. The two really convey a sense of immediacy that contributes richly to the film’s ominous atmosphere.

Despite some very strong elements, I never quite liked the film as much as I wanted to. I didn’t really enjoy the film’s conceits, or director Andrew Patterson’s self-conscious attempts to use all the tricks in his bag in one go. And some of his choices are just confounding: why the black screen, for example? During a long exchange with a caller during the live radio broadcast, we mostly focus on Everett’s face as he absorbs the story, but sometimes the camera cuts away to…nothing. A totally black, blank screen. And then back to Everett, who continues to listen intently, sitting perfectly still, hardly giving anything away on his face, and then back to black. I’ve thought a long time about this choice and though I’ve come up with a few plausible scenarios, I don’t like any of them. It feels more like a mistake than a choice. Later on in the film, when two people are running across a field, the camera spends multiple lengthy takes focusing on knees down. This is likely a budgetary concern, either the shot cost them enough that they had to use it a little too liberally in order to justify it, or they simply couldn’t afford to show anything that might have happening thighs and above. Either way, I don’t want the line item to be so glaringly apparent on the screen.

What I do want is another film from Patterson, who’s clearly got some potential if he hasn’t already burned all his bridges (one of the items in the film’s IMDB trivia section is a list of all the film festivals who rejected the movie – a particularly ungracious display of privilege from a first-time white, male director, and some pretty juvenile sour grapes), and some better material for McCormick, who deserves to showcase her talent.

The Weekend

Zadie (Sasheer Zamata) is a shameless third wheel. She’s been moping about her breakup for three years and instead of moving on with her life, she’s spending the weekend at a bed and breakfast with him…and his new girlfriend. And by “new” I mean “not Zadie,” because this couple have already been together for two years and Bradford’s walking around with a diamond ring in his pocket. Zadie is downright hostile to new girlfriend Margo (DeWanda Wise), who is understandably less than thrilled to have her love life constantly monitored by Zadie. And Bradford (Tone Bell) seems infuriatingly oblivious…or does he just like having two women fight for his attention?

So while Zadie is crashing what should be a romantic weekend for two, a man named Aubrey (Y’lan Noel) shows up at the B&B without his plus one, who minused herself out of their equation. Aubrey, who is handsome and charming and available, makes some overtures in Zadie’s direction. God knows why: Zadie is not exactly a catch and she’s pretty busy making a fool out of herself.

I wanted to like this movie but I hated it immediately. Zadie is a stand-up comedian and her whole schtick is a pity party in honour of her breakup which is now several years behind her. She’s an unlikable protagonist and exactly the kind of person I avoid at all costs so it was painful to spend a whole 87 minutes in her grating, self-centered presence. Zadie is so pathetic it’s hard to imagine that anyone would be romantically (or otherwise) interested in her, but only her mother (Kym Whitley) ever calls her on her bullshit so the rest of us are left searching for blunt objects to make the pain go away (strictly speaking, a remote would get the job done with a lot less mess).

The thing is, I love Sasheer Zamata who is in fact a stand-up comedian whom I have enjoyed on many occasions. I hated to see her good name debased with such a wretched and plaintive set. The whole cast had much to recommend it, and with better material this could easily be a group to watch. Likewise, writer-director Stella Meghie is an immense talent who would be better served by characters worthy of her attention. The Weekend is not her best work but I hope it at least exorcised some ghosts.

Fantasy Island

I take it that Fantasy Island was a show once upon a time, but I couldn’t tell you a single thing about it. I can tell you a little more about the movie, available to rent on VOD.

2020’s Fantasy Island is luxurious and exclusive. Guests arrive on a private plane and the enigmatic Mr. Roarke (Michael Pena) is there to greet them. Mr. Roarke is there to facilitate fantasies, but it’s the island that fulfills them. For Gwen (Maggie Q), a second chance at happiness; for brothers Brax (Jimmy O. Yang) and J. D. (Ryan Hansen), it’s a pool full of models; for Patrick (Austin Stowell), a chance to play live-action Call of Duty; and for Melanie (Lucy Hale), some good old fashioned revenge.

But the island isn’t just some tropical paradise, it’s the physical embodiment of ‘be careful what you wish for.’ Fantasies quickly turn into nightmares, and before long, the guests will either have to figure out the island’s sinister motives or pay with their lives.

It has been well-documented on this site that I am a chicken. I don’t usually elect to watch horror movies, but then again, I don’t usually elect to stay confined to my home for 9 weeks either. This pandemic has been an unprecedented time and I have been more willing to seek thrills outside my normal parameters. But if you’re an actual fan of horror movies, the truth is, you’re going to find this extremely mild. Even I wasn’t afraid!

I mean sure, people are being chased, tortured, gunned down, electrocuted. Bad guys bleed black, suffer eyeball bursts, and re-animate at inconvenient times.

But scary? Not exactly. The island is the bad guy. It’s evil, but not exactly subtle. Fire will try to burn you. Water will try to drown you. Men will drag you out from your hiding place, kicking and screaming. Everything bad that can happen will happen and so there’s no suspense or thrill.

Worst of all, no one opts for crazy sex stuff. Really? REALLY??? I wouldn’t mourn the lack of crazy sex stuff if anything else was entertaining me. As it is, Fantasy Island is just a so-so way to pass the time, and it’s best to temper your expectations.

Selah and the Spades

At an elite private boarding school, five “factions” rule the school. I’ve gone and put factions into quotation marks because these factions are taken so seriously they feel more like the mob. And each one has an equally fearsome mob don at the top. To ensure a smooth school year, these gangs make temporary alliances, but rest assured that they each mob has its own interests at heart. The head of the most powerful faction – The Spades – is of course our girl Selah (Lovie Simone) and her trusted consigliere is Maxxie (Jharrel Jerome) (if you don’t speak gangster, a consigliere is an advisor and right hand man).

It took me a minute to even pinpoint this movie’s setting as a high school because there’s nothing tongue in cheek about this; they take it VERY seriously. Most of all Selah, who knows her power comes from being feared and loved in equal measure, both of which require a certain distance to achieve. So though she is indisputably the most popular girl in school, she is lonely and basically friendless, other than Maxxie. And Maxxie’s about to become dangerously distracted by a new love. So there’s a juicy spot open for Selah’s new protégé, and in fact this role is in desperate need of filling since Selah is a senior with no one to pass the baton to. Enter: Paloma (Celeste O’Connor). Paloma is neither as charming nor as callous as Selah but she’s something much more important: likable. Paloma proves very worthy of the position, rising in prominence among the factions a little too easily for Selah’s comfort. Being number one for so long has painted Selah with insecurity, and if Paloma was once a friend, she is now a threat – Selah will not give up control one day before graduation, and is willing to go to some pretty sinister lengths to ensure it.

The young cast of Selah and the Spades is very talented and very watchable, even if their characters are all shades on the despicable spectrum. The film takes the concept of “cliques” and heightens it to make a point: high school is a dangerous game. Selah may be an unlikable protagonist but you can’t argue that she isn’t complex. All of the characters in writer-director Tayarisha Poe’s film are layered and interesting. Teenagers are treated with the respect they deserve, although not always with the respect they demand. Poe’s notion of high school is not unlike the seediest underbelly of organized crime, everyone ready to stab each other in the back the moment anyone shows vulnerability.

Tayarisha Poe’s film is like a rock veined with gold. There are flashes of brilliance but no one’s striking it rich. For me, the film ended right where it should have begun. Our protagonist is treated more like an antagonist and it leaves us mildly confused, moderately disappointed, and largely unsatisfied.

All Day And A Night

Soft-spoken Jahkor Lincoln (Ashton Sanders) struggles to keep his dream of rapping alive amidst a gang war in Oakland. It’s hard to have dreams in his neighbourhood. It’s hard to see outside the box you’re born into, to believe there are options for you, to believe your life isn’t fated by the colour of your skin. But no matter how hard he tries, his responsibilities seem to push him further and further across a line he never wanted to cross.

Jakhor lands in prison beside his father J.D. (Jeffrey Wright), the man he spent his whole life never wanting to become. But prison gives him lots of time to reflect, to explore the ties that bound them inextricably, and to dream of ways to beak the cycle for his own newborn set, whom he’s never met.

All Day and A Night is a title I still haven’t figured out and a film that’s a bit of a mixed bag. It slides backwards and forwards through time, which can get a bit sloppy. And it recycles a lot of material about young black lives that we’ve seen before. But it gets a few things really right – the sense of foreboding, for one, almost of inevitability that is heavy and depressing, and I’m just watching a film, not trying to live my life. Writer-director Joe Robert Cole clearly has a lot to say on the subject but I almost feel it was several movies’ worth, making this one a little disjointed. For example, there’s a very powerful scene in which Jakhor is visiting a friend in the hospital, a friend who will never walk again after a stint in the army. Jakhor is wearing a jersey, the NFL logo visible just below his pained face, reminding us of not one but two institutions that eat up and spit out the bodies of young black men.

I’ts not a perfect film but it has a voice and it has intention and if it’s not a string of hits, at least it’s a string of meaningful swings, and that’s a lot more than the other new releases on Netflix this week. All Day And A Night co-stars Isaiah John, Kelly Jenrette, Shakira Ja’Nai Paye, Regina Taylor, Christopher Meyer and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.