If Beale Street Could Talk
The process of adapting a book into a film can be a delicate one. Depending on how the original source material is handled and interpreted, adaptations can either go tremendously well or disastrously bad. And Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk” could not be a better example of an adaptation gone right. The story surrounds the romance between Tish Rivers (Kiki Layne) and Fonny Hunt (Stephen James), a couple ready to start a new life together with a baby on the way until Fonny is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. It’s then up to Tish, with the help of her family, to prove Fonny’s innocence and reunite their family.
This is a film told in a series of vignettes, warming the audience’s heart with the palpable connection between Fonny and Tish in one scene and shattering it with the matter-of-fact realism of injustice that accompanies the African American experience in the United States. Jenkins pulls zero punches in the adaptation of James Baldwin’s book of the same name in that the film will more often than not leave audiences feeling angry and frustrated as the characters fleshed out by breathtaking performances are faced with a less than happy ending.
“If Beale Street Could Talk” confronts audiences with the truth of the systematic oppression African Americans currently face, especially considering how much the film mirrors today’s society despite the source material having been written in 1974. With an award-winning performance by Regina King, who plays Tish's mother, “If Beale Street Could Talk” is definitely a film audiences won’t want to miss.
“Searching” is a film directed by Aneesh Chaganty, starring John Cho as a father desperate to find his missing 16-year-old daughter. The story is told entirely from the perspective of the daughter’s laptop after Cho breaks in to find any sort of clue, very similar in fashion to the misguided experiment that was “Unfriended.” But the innovative method of telling the story solely from digital devices is about where the comparison to “Unfriended” ends.
Chaganty’s film succeeded in every aspect that “Unfriended” failed. The characters were surprisingly compelling and well-developed throughout the film, particularly Cho as he carries the audience through the intimate and emotional search for his daughter. How the story was told was innovative and drew attention to how dependent today’s society is on technology and how it can turn people into mindless, screen-obsessed drones. At the end of the day, “Searching” was sincerely better than it probably had any business being and was an adventure in screenwriting as Chaganty continually found new ways to incorporate the laptop into how the investigation for Cho’s daughter unfolded.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
The Academy Award for Best Animated Feature couldn’t have gone to a better film. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” focuses on Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), an Afro-Latino kid from Brooklyn, New York, who is accidentally bitten by a radioactive spider and is given similar abilities to those of Spider-Man.
Directed by Peter Ramsey, Bob Persichetti and Rodney Rothman (with the screenplay by Phil Lord, half of the team behind “The LEGO Movie”), “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” throws audiences into a vibrant and eclectic world alive with culture and color that exemplifies what it’s like to read a comic book. The story slowly introduces the audiences into other Spider-characters of parallel universes, brought to life thanks to the brilliant voice acting of Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn and Nicolas Cage.
For those who love Spider-Man but are tired of hearing the tired and repeated origin story, this film reinvigorates the tale. From the second the audience is introduced to Miles and his multi-cultural family, we’re shown a new kind of Spider-Man — one that a wider and more diverse range of audiences will be able to relate to. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a landmark in animation dripping with style and color. The film is absolutely stunning to watch and backed by a talented cast and excellently fitting soundtrack that together leaves audiences excited and desperately waiting for the next time they can see it.