Actor-director Sujata Day's Definition Please is a breath of fresh air — a warm, funny, and personal directorial debut from Sujata Day, herself.
When it comes to Hollywood, things tend to move incredibly slow. The fact is, that we have been pushing for Hollywood to make more movies with representation for years now. We need more stories with/about women and men of color and more stories around the LGBTQ community — representing what America truly is. Being in an interracial marriage myself (my wife Glynis who is Peruvian), I have become more aware of listening and learning from other people's stories. Understanding these stories is a way of moving our society closer towards equality for all. In Day's film, Definition Please, we follow the story of a South Asian-American family living in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and their struggle to move on from their father’s death, one year later. Through this dramedy, we meet Monica Chowdry (a fantastic Day) — who is a former National Spelling Bee champion grappling to get her life together. But Monica is also tackling life blissfully, she smokes weed, has casual sex, and tutors a handful of kids throughout each day. However, Monica is also embarrassed that she is not a successful doctor or lawyer her parents had encouraged her to be.
Monica's parents immigrated from India over to the U.S. to begin a new life, and their American-born children have taken different paths for their lives. Monica also has a strained relationship with her older brother (a strong Ritesh Rajan), who has just returned home for their father's one-year memorial. Sonny (Rajan) also struggles with Bipolar disorder, and the toll it puts on his family. Rajan captures the gravity of this mental illness one scene at a time. Monica's widowed mother, Jaya (a perfect Anna Khaja) is also recovering from an illness. Or, is it an elaborate plan to force her children to bond together? Mother knows best. Day's film is a breath of fresh air as we see an Indian-American actress front and center in a leading role for a picture. We see a woman of color telling the narrative her way, free and also deeply connected with her cultural heritage. In addition, Day wrote, produced, directed, and even starred in her own film. Day has an incredible gift at hand, and she needs to be given more in the Hollywood spotlight.
While the traditional Hollywood gatekeepers tried to push Day aside, she went around them and found her path forward, telling the stories that she wants to tell. Her story of a South Asian-American family is one that many Brown people in America can reflect on — continuing to show why representation matters. Day began her career by appearing as CeeCee in Issa Rae’s breakthrough web series The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl. She has continued to work with Rae in HBO's Insecure, as Sarah. Through it all, Day has shown us that she has a bright future ahead of her, and I am excited to see more of her work. Through this blend of comedy, romance, and drama, we get an honest portrayal of family. We will keep speaking up until Hollywood starts making movies that fully reflects everyone. In the end, Definition Please is Day's very American movie.
Definition Please is Not Rated (NA)
Directed by Sujata Day
Starring Sujata Day, Ritesh Rajan, Anna Khaja, Jake Choi, Lalaine, Kunal Dudheker, Sunfish Bala, Esha Chundru, Meera Simhan, Sonal Shah, Tim Chiou, and Parvesh Cheena.
I’m Your Woman is a slow-burning ‘70s crime drama that will keep you on edge from the first to the final frame. Masterfully acted by Rachel Brosnahan and meticulously crafted by director Julia Hart (2018's Fast Color). It’s a film that sneaks up on you.
I'm Your Woman is one of the best movies to come out in 2020, do not miss this one. Sophisticated and smart, Hart's film takes its time building up gradual tension, precise dialogue, and never-wrecking thrills. On top of all of this, we get pitch-perfect performances by Rachel Brosnahan, Arinze Kene, and Marsha Stephanie Blake. You will be captivated by the film's 1970s vibe and esthetic — through low and warm lighting, this slow-burning film will get under your skin. During Hart's crime drama, we meet a woman (a knockout Brosnahan) named Jean, who is forced to go on the run after her husband, Eddie (Bill Heck), betrays his partners, sending Jean and her baby on a dangerous journey. I'm Your Woman is utterly enthralling to watch, as we travel with Jean every step of the way.
Jean teams up with Cal (a strong Kene) — who acts as a guide to help get her to safety and away from a dangerous crime mob. Through all of the hoops, turns, and unpredictable scenarios, I'm Your Woman throws us into the heart of violence — there's a safe-house triple murder, a nightclub massacre, and a lethal car chase that will seep into your bones. The camerawork done during the nightclub massacre will have you on the edge of your seat, anxiously holding one's breath that Jean makes it to safety. This noir thriller rebukes the male fantasy of what they think a crime film should look like. Instead, Hart's film looks at the perspective of a woman and a mother struggling to survive — leaving us with a compelling and nuanced experience.
Illuminating a sense of paranoia and suspense, I'm Your Woman sets the tone for future crime films to follow. It's simple, I'm Your Woman is one of the best films of 2020, and we need to be talking more about it. This film should not be ignored and deserves to be nominated — for Brosnahan's powerful performance, Hart's subtle craft in direction, lively costume designs, and captivating camerawork. I will end this review by saying do not sleep on this film. Watch it now. Let this slow-burning crime drama send chills down your spine as your studying Brosnahan's next move. A refreshing 70s throwback on a crime story from a human perspective — leaving one clinching the edge of their seat by the final never-wrecking scene. Patience is a virtue, allowing the suspense to over take you and spill out riveting outcomes.
I'm Your Woman is rated R (Restricted) For violence and language.
Directed by Julia Hart
Starring Rachel Brosnahan, Arinze Kene, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Frankie Faison Marceline Hugot, and Bill Heck.
Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
2020 has been an unprecedented year, challenging us to our core. From health and well being to politics, these are harrowing times. Film is a way to escape these realities, however, most of our theaters have been closed since last March. Yet, the movies find a way to still reach an audience — through streaming or virtual cinema, we have found a way to connect with the movies and help heal our souls. Here are my picks for the 35 Best Films of 2020. — Arnold At The Movies
Soul is a beautiful film inside and out. Disney-Pixar has made another compelling movie sprinkled with a heartfelt message and gorgeous animation for the whole family.
Pixar delivers another complex and exquisite animated film to add to their canon. With Soul, we see a stunning and thought-provoking display of the meaning of life and what truly makes us human. Meet Joe Gardner (brilliantly voiced by Jamie Foxx), a middle school music teacher who feels stuck in life and unfulfilled at his job. Joe dreams of having a career in jazz, playing seamlessly throughout the nights to a live audience in the clubs. Joe's seamstress mother, Libba (voiced by a warm Phylicia Rashad), objects to his big ambition and would rather him hold a steady job. Yet, Joe's big break is about to start as he impresses a jazz legend named Dorothea Williams (voiced by a strong Angela Bassett), who gives him a shot to play with her band. Joe is ecstatic, running through the streets of New York City like a feather in the wind.
Then suddenly, Joe falls down a manhole. Pitch black is all we see at first, then Joe (or something that resembles Joe) lands on a white moving staircase. Joe looks up and sees himself heading towards the Great Beyond, but he is not ready to die. A small, bluish-green form that resembles Joe's soul is what we see now, as he escapes the staircase falling into the Great Before, where souls start before they go into their human bodies. Here, Joe poses as an instructor for souls and is assigned with 22 (voiced by a hilarious Tina Fey). 22 is a cynical being who refuses to leave the Great Before. Throughout this film, we will see a stubborn 22 open up Joe's eyes to the importance of the little things in life that make us human, igniting a spark inside us. Through Joe's growth in selflessness and 22's growth in courage, we see two souls who begin to embrace the joys of living. Director Pete Docter (Monsters Inc., Up, and Inside Out) knows how to challenge an audience, even when it's promoted more towards children.
Through thought-provoking themes and emotional resonance, Docter's films will pull on your heartstrings. On top of this, Soul's animation is stunning and downright wondrous. The animator's attention to detail throughout the city of New York is a marvel, unveiling the richness of city life. In addition, Soul also promotes an animated story of Black lives, at a time when our country is grappling with social and racial equality. These stories need to continue to be made and heard, amplifying Black voices. This is important because it continues to share the message of why representation matters. Disney's two upcoming movies this year are about people of color. These films are Raya and the Last Dragon and Encanto. In Raya and the Last Dragon, Kelly Marie Tran will make history as the first actress of Southeast Asian descent to lead a Walt Disney Animation Studios film. While Encanto will focus it's story on a Latina girl and her family in Colombia. Soul is a perfect little film about learning to live, pondering life's gentle moments. In the end, Pixar's Soul shines brightly, letting its voice speak one beat at a time.
Soul is rated PG (Parental Guidance) Some Language | Thematic Elements.
Directed by Pete Docter
Starring Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Phylicia Rashad, Ahmir-Khalib Thompson, Angela Bassett, Daveed Diggs, and Graham Norton.
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Mike, Mike, and Oscar
Next Best Picture
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