Monday, September 26, 2016

Queen of Katwe

Director Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe is a very special film about a world few of us would know and from which everyone can learn.
Based on the true-life story of Phiona Mutesi (Nadina Nalwanga), who lives in the poor community of Katwe, Uganda, we meet her as a 12-year-old in 2007 and follow her over the next 7 years.  

Her widowed mother (Lupita Nyong’o) cannot afford to send her to school, so Phiona spends her day bringing water home in large cans and selling maize for money.

Life changes when she follows her younger brother (Martin Kabanza), who steals off during the day to get a daily breakfast in the little enclosure set up by a soccer coach Robert Katende (David Oyelowo).   
Katende teaches other unschooled children to use their minds by learning to play chess.

Phiona tries her hand at the game and the results are dramatic!

Writer William Wheeler’s screenplay transports our visual pleasure through an understanding of the underprivileged Ugandans and the thrills of victory.

 Queen of Katwe is pure joy and well-worth a 4.5 out of 5.

The Magnificent Seven

 Director Antione Fuqua has revived the Western genre with a remake of John Sturges’ The Magnificent Seven, which was a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai.

Whereas Sturges’ production had Elmer Bernstein’s music to drive the tension, here Mauro Fiore’s cinematography gives us some beautiful vistas. 
Unfortunately, the tension is what is more important to a story of 7 men, who are taking on an army of mercenaries for a rich despot (Peter Sarsgaard), who is trying to drive out the landowners surrounding his gold mine.  

It’s not that the film is not well-done or interesting. Indeed, the development of tactics to take on the despot’s hoards is intriguing and the action, though sometimes chaotic, will please fans of the genre.  It’s only in the last 5 minutes that the film goes off the tracks with a conclusion that seems a bit too altruistic for my taste, as well as seems to forget the main value of the town.  But, that seems to have been forgotten by the Writers after it was setup at the story’s beginning and, perhaps, most of the audience will have forgotten it, as well.

I give The Magnificent Seven a 3.8 out of 5.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Bridget Jones's Baby

Director Sharon Maguire’s Bridget Jones’s Baby is a delightful comedy that should please adult women, as well as their dates/husbands.
RenĂ©e Zellweger is back in the role of Bridget Jones as she turns 43 without a man in her life.  But, through a series of bizarre circumstances, within the same week she has relations with two men, millionaire businessman Jack (Patrick Dempsey) and her old lawyer love Mark (Colin Firth), then finds herself pregnant without knowing which of the two is the father. 

The script by Helen Fielding, Dan Glazer and Emma Thompson provides good parts for a number of fine British actors, including Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Emma Thompson, Sarah Solemani and Kate O’Flynn. 

Zellweger is able to ride the rollercoaster of comedy and poignancy with more style than she showed in the past films in this franchise.
I give Bridget Jones’s Baby a 3.9 out of 5.