BEATS (2019)

BEATS 2019

BEATS is a staggering gaze at the life of a young Chicagoan youth’s battle with PTSD. If you watch the movie trailers it isn’t necessarily clear, that is the central intrigue here. But I’m thinking that’s on purpose, because what’s presented here is a sad, deep, brutal portrayal of how many kids living within the city of Chicago are growing up with a lot of repressed, severe trauma. Gun play is as regular as Beats by Dre headphones in this film, and gang activity fills the outer corners of a pretty bleak film. The central themes and hope of this movie rest inside the mind of it’s most recent victim of gun violence. He’s played by Khalil Everage (Making his film debut), and Everage shines as a young man struggling to deal with the loss of his older sister. It’s been a while since Anthony Anderson has played a mostly unlikable character on screen, but his shamed artist manager is just that. A loser. A has-been. A man stuck reliving the ‘glory-days’ of his foray into the world of music. Rounding out the cast are Ashley Jackson (another newcomer), Evan J. Simpson, and Uzo Aduba (who plays Everage’s sister in the film).

BEATS is a  strong story, woven together by a crisp, colorful sound design and production value perfectly balancing the life of August (Everage). The kid has talent, but can he learn to deal with his grief in a way that allows him to leave his house? And what about Romelo (Anderson)? Will he ever be able to get out of his own way? How much does his failing marriage really matter to him?

I give this film a A-. I really enjoyed it!

Check out the trailer below:

 

City of Lies (2018)

city of lies IMG

I came into the film expecting more insight into what transpired in the all-encompassing, ‘rap beef’ between the Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. What I got (thankfully!) was way more fascinating. This film primarily focuses on a murder case involving two police officers, with one killing the other. From there, the narrative expertly crafts a tale of corruption within the city of Los Angeles’s police department. Not only that, but there are several dots that connect the case to Suge Knight–a man who many believed, ordered the murder of Biggie Smalls in retaliation for the death of Tupac.  What’s notable here is how sincere director Brad Furman and company are to the material at their fingertips. Depp and Whitaker carry the ‘Docu-drama’ from it’s potent opening moments all the way to the sorrowful ending. It’s one of those movies that feels more like a trip through an exhibit then it does an evening at the movies; albeit a tantalizing one.

It’s definitely a movie I’d recommend for people looking to gain perhaps a new insight into the strange, and murky circumstances surrounding the murder of Christopher Wallace (Biggie Smalls). Depp’s character was initially tasked with piecing together the ‘cop v cop’ case, but makes it his business to see certain loose ends through to being tied up. This gets him heat from superiors, suspects, and even people he thought he could trust. Whitaker plays a prize-winning journalist who initially (and presumably wrongfully) accused Christopher Wallace of being responsible for the death of Tupac Shakur. As Depp’s character shares more of his case details with Whitaker–the two work together to what they believe may be the tip of the iceberg of a….*DUN DUN DUN* Police Cover up! Anyway, I’m giving this great, Hip-Hop conspiracy a ‘B’.

 

Check out the trailer below: