Tag Archives: Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Miss Sloane

Movie:  Miss Sloane

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   Will Rogers once said, “We have the best Congress money can buy.”  Where do you think that money comes from that flows to elected officials in hopes of swaying their votes for particular bills?  From lobbyists, of course.  And no lobbyist is better at the game than Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain), ace of the Cole/Kravitz/Waterman firm led by the amoral George Dupont (Sam Waterston).  When the U.S. Senate was preparing to vote on a Brady Bill for gun control, the gun lobby folks with their bags of money come courting  Miss Sloane to engage her to snuff out the gun legislation bill, but they get a major shock when she turns them down flat.  Even worse, she jumps ship with her young team of eager beaver assistants to join forces with the anti-gun forces, in the person of Rodolpho Schmidt (Mark Strong), head of the Peterson/Wyatt firm.

Schmidt’s firm is much smaller and has almost no capital to wage this war.  It’s a classic David versus Goliath battle, and the anti-gun side’s only ace card is Miss Sloane.  She is considered the best in her field because she is a brilliant tactician, unpredictable in her strategy, and is totally committed to the point of being ruthless.  Her success has come at a cost; she has no personal life to speak of, she pops mysterious pills to get her through the day and endures insomnia at night.  In short, she is a driven workaholic.  Her main assistant in the fight is Esme Manucharian (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a young woman committed to the cause and hiding a dark secret about her past.  Together the young team fighting for the Brady Bill desperately try to secure the 60 votes they need for victory in the Senate, while contending with the ploys of their unscrupulous gun opponents.

In some respects this film is a bit predictable, as they portray the gun lobby in a very negative light.  But then again, they are making vast amounts of money off of weapons, so screw them.  Jessica Chastain is brilliant in this role, willing to present Miss Sloane as a cold and calculating operator with few redeeming qualities.  Look for Chastain to secure a Best Actress nomination.  This is a political thriller packed with suspense, and does not disappoint with the ending.  Solid entertainment.

Mini Trailers:  Sloane – “The winner plots one step ahead of the opposition, and plays their trump card after the opposition plays theirs.”

Lawyer to Sloane – “They will rile you so bad they’ll make Gandhi want to cut their tongues out.”

Gun Lobbyist – “We want to change the narrative from mothers losing their children to guns to mothers protecting their children with guns.”

George Dupont – “Christ, this is the Gun Lobby.  Do you have any idea how long I’ve been trying to reel them in?”

Esme Mahucharian – “For every dollar the Brady people spend, do you know how much the Gun Lobby spends?  Thirty-eight dollars!”

Sloane – “Does anyone in this room think the government should do away with the requirement for drivers licenses?  So why should we expect less for gun ownership?”

Rodolpho Schmidt to Sloane – “You compared the U.S. Constitution to a horoscope?”

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot:  Attention you evil people out there.  Beware of cockroaches….

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Beyond The Lights

Movie:  Beyond The Lights

Rating:  3 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:    Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) was a talented young girl who always wanted to be a singer.  Her mother, Macy Jean (Minnie Driver), always wanted her daughter to be a mega-star.  The only problem, Macy Jean was a tyrannical stage Mom, constantly driving her daughter harder and harder to make a name for herself in the music business.

Fast forward to the present.  Noni is on the verge of stardom, having just won her third Billboard award for best song.   She is dating rapper Kid Culprit (Machine Gun Kelly), and a top record label is about to put out her first album amid much hullabaloo.  But hold on, an “incident” occurs on the eve of her awards and long sought after success that may derail her plans, and even her career.  Just to make things more interesting, and quite a bit more complex, Noni becomes interested in a fellow outside of her music circles, Kaz Nicole (Nate Parker), who is an aspiring politician.  Not everyone is happy about this development, especially Kaz’s father, police captain Nicol (Danny Glover).

This is a rather well travelled story, the stage mother who pushes the talented daughter to stardom for her own good.  The problem is, it was done much better in previous films, such as I’ll Cry Tomorrow (1955), Gypsy (1962), and recently Black Swan (2010).  The trappings of the plot have been modernized with scenes of rappers and music videos, but nothing substantial has been added to make this movie stand out.  To be honest, a 1/2 star was added to the rating just because of the lead actress, who frankly deserved a better vehicle.

Actress To Watch:  The lead actress, of course, is Gugu Mabatha-Raw, and she is one of the most talented actresses around.  She squeezed all the juice she could out of this plot to give the film some life.   She has been great in smaller film roles, such as  Larry Crowne and more recently Belle.  A delightful English actress, I see big things ahead for her.  And yes, she did her own singing in this film.

Huh, What The….:  Most police officers have a mandatory retirement at age 55.  Danny Glover is actually 68, and looked older in this movie.  Time to pull the pin!

In the credits, basketball player Amar’e Stoudemire is listed as a producer.  Seriously?  He was billed as the next NBA superstar, but pretty much is a bust on the court.

Dialogue Nuggets:  “Do you want to be a runner up, or do you want to be a winner?”

“If she doesn’t kick ass at that show, I will personally drop her from this label!”

“You just got into a brawl with a rapper on national TV!”

“Are you saying you don’t want to be a bitter, broken man?”

“There was never any we.  Your word was always gospel.”