DOPE (2015)

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“I’m in the mood, can’t bring me down”.

Was this film made for me? I think someone, somewhere must have had me in mind when making this because I couldn’t have been more excited when watching this brilliant film about these geekz ‘n the hood.

Clever script, great acting, priceless comic moments, an outstanding soundtrack; finger-snappingly awesome.

This was, without a doubt, one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen this year, an uplifting, coming of age in the hood film that doesn’t shy away from the harshness of the streets but never gets overwhelmed by it. There is so much heart here, one can not help but be charmed.

Shameik Moore plays our hero Malcolm and brings a quiet confidence to the role, he is, for sure, one to look out for. Tony Revolori plays one of his friends, Jib and Kiersey Clemons plays the other, Diggy (“I will slap the shit out of you”) completing the triangle. The chemistry between the three works brilliantly. They are the geekz in a band, ‘Awreeoh’ with their music written and produced by Pharrell Williams and their tunes are phat and phunky, reminiscent of The Neptunes. The rest of the soundtrack is just bomb; Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, Nas, Digital Underground, Naughty By Nature, Public Enemy, Onyx and many more make this BY FAR, the hippest soundtrack we’ve heard for a minute.

The script is tight, clever and on point (only one tiny plot confusion with a text that didn’t quite fuse, maybe this was down to the edit) but otherwise from the start to the finish the writing is on the money. Written and directed with skill by Rick Famuyiwa this is a film that should be up for a best comedy award somewhere. Funny, whip-smart and hip; it’s a breath of fresh air.

Support comes from Rakim Mayers (the New York rapper A$ap Rocky) as the gangster, Dom making his acting debut and bringing a charisma that shows strong on-screen presence. Zoe Kravitz is beautiful and real as Nakia, Malcolm’s crush. Quincy Brown (Puff Daddy’s kid) is Jaleel, the wannabe gangster, Chanel Iman as his seductive sister, Lily (a nice use of her name that comes to represent a certain substance and creating a bunch of very funny memes-“People on Lily be like….”). The very funny Blake Anderson (Workaholics) given a witty, hilarious exchange about the ‘N’ word “ Whaddup my N-Word?”.

Special mentions go to De’Aundre Bonds as Stacey, the school’s security, Rick Fox as Councilman Blackmon, Josh Meyer as the DEA tech, and a very funny, tense exchange with rapper Kap G playing Fidel X, Forest Whittaker plays the narrator (he is also one of the producers on the film) and finally the great Roger Guenver-Smith as Austin Jacoby. The cast is killing it.

Bitcoins, deep web, Harvard, molly, 90’s hip hop, slippery slopes and social media.

Dope is dope. I watched it twice in less than a week, which is unusual and testament to the entertaining value of this quality film. Check it out.

4.5/5

BUY THE FILM ON BLU RAY DVD HERE

DOWNLOAD THE FILM ON iTUNES HERE

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BLANCANIEVES (2012)

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A silent version of Snow White set in Seville, Spain in the 1920’s and arriving just one year after The Artist did so well on the world stage. This tells the tale of Snow White, her dwarves, the wicked queen and the world of bull-fighting. Based on the original tale by the brothers Grimm this is a beautifully shot, well-acted film that veers away from the Disney version.

Having recently re-read the original Grimm tale one can see how the ‘Who’s been sleeping in my bed’ originated in here and was then later utilized in the Goldilocks story.

The lack of dialogue is refreshing, the director Pablo Berger makes his second feature and works his magic to bring this version to life.

Carmencita (Sofia Ora & Macarena Garcia) is the daughter of a famous bull-fighter, Antonio Villalta (Daniel Gimenéz Cacho) who is paralysed in the ring during a fight. Carmencita’s mother dies in child-birth and Antonio remarries the wicked, Encarna, played by Maribel Verdú (Pan’s Labyrinth and Y Tu Mama Tambien), who cruelly treats Antonio and carries on an sado-masochistic affair with a huntsman. When Carmencita becomes a teenager, Encarna is filled with jealousy at the young girl’s beauty and sends the Huntsman to kill her and bring back her heart.

Snow White escapes and finds herself in the residence of a travelling theatre show populated by dwarves who tour a bull-fighting show.

This film is filled with charm and beautiful story-telling and the use of silence gives room for a narrative usually reliant on dialogue. This frees Berger to tell the story with pictures, mise en scene and performance. This is definitely not a children’s film as there be darkness involved, like the old fairy tales, life and death are a major part of it and mores the joy. Protecting the little ones from some of the harsh realities of life may work for a while but eventually they’re going to find out. Many of us were told these darker stories when we were little and it did us little damage. There lies both tragedy and joy in life and these tales were told for a reason and usually didn’t pull any punches.

The score by Alfonso Villalonga sweeps us away into a world of magical-realism and is well-composed and thought out.

Whilst not being the best film I’ve seen this year it is a welcome addition to the modern world of cinema and shows us that there is still life in silent movies.

3/5

BUY THE COLLECTOR’S EDITION DVD HERE

DOWNLOAD THE FILM ON iTUNES HERE