Yes, There’s a Moment after “Da 5 Bloods” End Credits

Da 5 Bloods!

Five men in search of T’Challa.

Longtime MCC readers know the rule: every film I see in theaters gets its own entry. That rule hasn’t come up much lately because (previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover) our last theater experience was the first weekend of March. Entries about my home video consumption tend to be a no-fly zone for any kind of inbound traffic, but every so often I’ll ignore my blog stats and go for it anyway. Then again, that’s my approach to 90% of what I post here, so why hold my viewing habits to a tougher standard?

I do miss theaters. To a lesser degree I miss racking my brain for the occasional movie entry. I do go out on a limb for the occasional Netflix Original. And though I’ve only seen six previous Spike Lee films (that really should be higher), it seemed remiss to watch his new joint Da 5 Bloods and then do nothing else to engage with the experience.

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“Jojo Rabbit”, Your Knife Is Calling

Jojo Rabbit!

Near the end of the war when the Fatherland began running low on father figures, you had to make do with what was rationed to you.

Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Jojo Rabbit One of the Year’s Best Films!

That doesn’t mean much to anyone outside my own head, but it’s fun to type and just stare at it for a while. What if I said things and they mattered? Pretty cool daydream, right? Sometimes it’s comforting to traipse around in a world of pure imagination, until you’re forced to look at it from another angle and recognize when you’re wallowing in nonsense.

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“Green Book”: Side by Side on My Piano Keyboard

Green Book!

Stars of the new Norman Lear sitcom Aragorn and Cottonmouth.

As a longtime fan of road trips, I spent more of Green Book‘s running time looking forward to Our Heroes seeing the sights, maybe filming on location and giving us new travel ideas. And if they go back in time and cure racism while they’re at it, so much the better.

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“Detroit”, One Night Only

Detroit!

“Look, this is all a big misunderstanding. If I could just have my blaster back…”

One of MCC’s long-standing rules is that every film I make the effort to see in theaters gets an entry. I saw Kathryn Bigelow’s harrowing Detroit a few months ago but procrastinated writing about it because I had trouble sorting what few thoughts I had on it. We’re now less than a month away from the scheduled DVD release, and on the heels of an upcoming limited re-release meant to remind Oscar voters that it exists. Maybe it’s time to move on this and see what happens. I won’t be surprised if I get something wrong according to the zeitgeist or say something innately stupid, but that’s the risk we run in oversharing opinions online on sensitive subjects.

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Crunching Numbers, “Hidden Figures”

Hidden Figures!

In the 1960s, the Academy Awards were a very different experience down in the “Colored Audience” section of the Kodak Theatre.

Remember yesteryear when the media and movie fans complained that the Academy Awards nominees were distressingly monochromatic? What a difference a year makes, when studios choose to give leeway to filmmakers willing to bring something different to the table. Of course it helps when the “different” films are also really good films. Hidden Figures isn’t the only Best Picture nominee to figure that last part out, and I’m betting it won’t be the last.

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“Zootopia”: Welcome to the Harerdome

Zootopia!

If you refuse to see it in theaters, the “sloth trailer” alone is a hoot. I can only imagine how excruciating that scene probably was to animate using, like, a hundred times as many frames per movement.

The worldwide phenomenon about two unique individuals from very different worlds — one who’s itching for justice, one who’s given some thought to law enforcement — passed $300 million this weekend at the U.S. box office and proved major studios are still capable of putting out product that can contemplate serious topics even while reveling in visual flair and not shying away from moments of intensity or even a few tears.

No, not the one with the angry costumed guys in it.

Right this way for a few words about Disney’s “Zootopia”!

“Race”: For Your Next Black History Month Consideration

Race!

It’s one of those MCC traditions dating back to our humble beginnings nearly four years ago: if I see a movie in theaters, it gets an entry. My wife and I saw the Jesse Owens biopic Race near the end of Black History Month, but the requisite write-up kept getting pushed back as I let other topics cut in line to stall for time while I thought through what I wanted to type. Right now it’s down to its last hundred American screens, but with the home video release scheduled for May 31st, we can all pretend this is actually an advance review and I’m more of a DVD vanguard than a procrastinator.

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What You Can Do for Emanuel AME

If you haven’t already heard about the tragic murders of nine people Wednesday night at the 150-year-old Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleson, SC, pick an American news service (well, nearly any American news service that isn’t using this as tactless, opportunistic, political scapegoating leverage against their imagined arch-nemeses that have zero to do with any of this) and go read up on what we know so far.

Once you’re up to speed and properly disturbed, have some ideas for what else you can do in response, including but not limited to:

* Pray. Followed by more praying. And then still more prayer. For the families of the victims. For their community. For your community. For those whose duty will be the trial and prosecution of the perpetrator. For the perpetrator as a malignant lost soul. For all of us as a country and as a lifeform.

* If you’re racist, maybe try not being racist for a while and see how it feels. Not-racism carries some fabulous perks, such as that invigorating feeling that, in this way if nothing else, you’re not a warped relic from an era that’s bygone for reasons.

* As a reading exercise, consider the words of an actual relic of another era: an 1861 speech by Alexander Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederate States of America. Skip the first several verbose paragraphs until you see the word “negro” start popping up a lot. See how many sentences you manage to take in before you can’t go on. Now consider, 154 years later, we have 21st-century American-born citizens who buy into lines of thought anywhere within the same area code as what Stephens held to be true. See which hits you first: deep sorrow, righteous outrage, or the worst migraine you’ll ever feel.

* Skip the comedy generalizations of all Southerners. I’ve seen a few folks quick to jump on that too-easy bandwagon. Until just now, all this year’s worst nationwide headlines about race-related death came from Yankee states. My wife and I will be traveling in the southern U.S. soon and I fully expect to meet countless examples of American citizens not prone to acts of evil like this.

* Instead of boosting the public profile of the racist murderer of nine by railing about him by name, read tributes about the nine victims, about the faith that moved them, and about the good works they performed here during their time in this broken world. You can check out the Washington Post‘s version, which includes interviews with bereaved family and friends telling the rest of us about those dear folks the rest of us never had the chance to know personally, or there’s the Buzzfeed version, which has fewer exclusive interviews but supplements that with some social-media screen-grabs that are a little less tacky than their normal fare.

* Donate. Major news services are reporting that Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., is in the process of spearheading a relief fund for affected parties. As of this writing the official fundraiser site isn’t live yet, but I’m linking to it anyway in case that changes soon. If it doesn’t, if you’d rather not wait for it, or if you’d prefer a more direct approach, Emanuel AME’s home page has a PayPal button. The money goes directly to them, no government intermediaries. Point, click, donate, help, do something.

Scenes from the Class Struggle in Ferguson, MO

Ferguson.

Michael Brown’s stepfather Louis Head walks through Ferguson, on or after 8/9/2014. (Photographer as yet unknown. Source: blue cheddar via Flickr cc)

I’ve lost all ability to concentrate tonight because I’m transfixed by the current scene this evening in Ferguson, Missouri — a scene of protesters, armed police response, copious canisters of tear gas, alleged attempted media blackouts, and two journalists who were under arrest for nearly an hour when they failed to leave a McDonald’s in the correct fashion.

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“12 Years a Slave”: No, It’s Not “Roots”-Meets-“Saw”

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

I love that the phrase “Academy Award Nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor” is now a reality. Whether in his first U.S. film role as the Serenity crew’s most formidable villain, or even as the heroic scientist who delivers the requisite do-the-right-thing speech in Roland Emmerich’s 2012, Ejiofor has been one of those electrifying talents who improves every script he’s handed. I had hoped he would move on to bigger and better things in the years ahead. With 12 Years a Slave my wish was granted.

Why I didn’t see it till now…

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