Written & Directed By: Boots Riley
Cinematography By: Doug Emmett
Editor: Terel Gibson
Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Steven Yuen, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Armie Hammer, Terry Crews, Kate Berlant, Danny Glover, Robert Longstreet, Michael X. Sommers, Forest Whitaker, Rosario Dawson, David Cross, Lily James, Patton Oswalt
In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a universe of greed.
A cinematic achievement especially for a first film. That is so lively, political and funny that it comes off as a breakthrough.
I am familiar with boots Riley as a writer, activist and musician with the band THE COUP. Truth be told I read the script early after he put it out with the literary magazine McSweeney’s so I knew somewhat to expect and I still found myself moved and surprised by the film.
The film is Eclectic, With personality. It feels like something different that is funny, yet has something to say it flashes the screen with Surreal images that has plenty of ideas going on at one time and compliment one another. That feels enriched by and can definitely say it’s one of a kind.
The film is definitely different and once you believe you have gotten onto it’s Wavelength, it changes on you and still manages to constantly surprise and enchant. Driving you down familiar roads with totally different scenery and stops along the way.
Definitely of it’s Time but has the rebellious spirit of the 1970’s. This is the type that is experimental but if you like a film that makes you laugh and think and want more original films. Check this out and support it. As you can tell this was made by an artist and auteur.
I find cinema at times to be a religion and whole there is a section of films that will forever preach a certain mainstream dogma of certain views and universal truths that while well meaning can also feel manipulative and fake. There are also films that are made from a certain point of view that seek to awaken and offer alternatives as well as entertain. Cinema can deliver many messages but it is up to the audience and individual to figure out their own interpretation and what they will take away from it.
The film might lack a certain polish. It proves to be substance over style, but it is so impressive you find yourself forgiving those more cosmetic problems. As once it grabs ahold of you it doesn’t let you go until the ride is over.
Lakeith Stanfield finally finds a film that seems to match him like a glove when it comes to personality and quirks. (Even as he was suggested by original Star Donald Glover who couldn’t be in the film due to scheduling conflicts) It’s quite amazing to see him and his character physically transform as he gains success and confidence. Where as at the beginning he is bumbling and seems to be desperate, but you constantly wonder. What is with the way he walks and carries himself. You notice how it represents his own self definition and how once success hits he is more smooth and confident.
Tessa Thompson has never been more alluring and likeable as in this film. Though she has a major part, you might find yourself wanting to see more of her throughout. As she comes through like the film as something and someone dynamic.
Though the film is obviously a product of a first time director. Who seeks to say so many things at once some of those things get left or abandoned before they can make a mark. Which also leaves the film to be a bit scattershot in it’s Focus at times, but it also allows for a fearlessness when it comes to the material and sticking with it even when it goes into some absurd areas of content.
It is obviously more a film of ideas and imagination rather than necessarily story and plot but manages to tie it all together and get it’s point across.
Even if the third act might make it lose some of it’s audience as it goes in a totally unexpected way that no one really will see coming and some might see as misguided or see it as a left turn abandonment of where the story was going, Or what came before. But it is needed to make a point and put a cap on everything the director was saying and trying to accomplish with inventive imagination funky spirit, meaning and soul.
The director, cast and crew you never have to apologize. As you can never be bothersome. Instead you are always welcomed and always look forward to your presence.