His Dark Materials
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Darryl Graham, after living a life as a gang banger, is trying to get his life together. He thought he had himself a nice thing going with Krystal, but being that she got another man, who seems to not have a record, Darryl is just a side-piece. So, because of that, he leaves her alone. In his new place though there is Connie. A wife whose husband Avery, is trifling in a multitude of ways. Now, Darryl digs Connie, and she digs him too, but being that Avery is still her husband, there is a problem.
That ain't the only one, though. Ben Jr., a young kid, barely 21, but in college, is not that close with his dad Ben Sr. Part of the reason is he gets kicked out daily because Ben Sr. is the mistress of some married woman in the building. On top of that, Ben Jr. got a secret. One he thinks Darryl shares. Though the big to do of this movie is the fact a dead body, killed due to a fire, gets rolled out the building. All signs point to one person being dead, but the question comes: Who killed them and why?
Though I know it isn't politically correct to say, I was ready to write this off as another $1 store bargain bin hood movie. The type which seemed to throw a bunch of Black B-list actors all in one film and between excessiveness of the performances to a mediocre storyline, I honestly wondered if I would even finish this movie. Well, let me just say I need to reevaluate the stereotypes I place on Black majority movies because this movie put me through it.
Now, let me just state, when I say "put me through it" I don't mean this had me in tears. However, I was certainly not expecting to laugh, be shocked, and witness so many compelling twists. I mean, the amount of secrets packed into this hour and a half movie could have been 2-3 seasons of a show, if handled right. To just give you an idea of what goes on, I want you to imagine the drama and twists of a full night of Shondaland programming combined with what FreeForm has for their Monday and Tuesday scripted lineup. Keeping in mind, what is in this movie isn't done for simple shock value. Yes, some twists feel out of nowhere, but with time you realize they make quite a bit of sense. And I think the best way to show how much I like this movie is because, for one, I'm skirting around spoiling it too much, and two, it is because I really want people to see it. Genuinely.
For a movie which is around an hour and a half, the fact it can pull a compelling, and believable, twist damn near every 10 to 15 minutes was something. It is like, when I took a film theory class they spoke of pacing and how the ebb and flow goes in a script. With this film, it is like just as soon as you may start to get relaxed, feel like it is giving you a break to settle with that last shock, it hits you with another one. Which I so badly want to write in here because it is hard to not want to share some of the jaw-dropping moments.
Also, you have to admire how they crafted the relationships in the movie. No one is focused on enough to be a definitive lead, besides Rucker, and yet it is with little details that you feel like you know more than you actually do. Thus constantly there is a setup for a surprise. Let me use an example, without ruining too much. Let's take Krystal for example. One little twist with her deals with her relationship with Darryl and this other guy. Which is a small part of the puzzle which goes with who her father is, and then something else which I don't want to spoil. What I'm trying to say is, this movie is a murder mystery which your perceptions may not lead you to take seriously, but writer Carl Weber took this for damn sure serious. Hence why crumbs are left everywhere and if you aren't paying attention, you don't even notice the multiple rats running around.
Honestly, the only part which sort of made me roll my eyes were the sex scenes. The majority of which star Crystal, outside of one with Connie and Avery. They, to me, I understood their place in showing Connie still wanted to reconcile with her husband, and that Crystal was... something I'm not going to say. But compared to all the interesting things which happen in this movie, honestly, I just felt like rolling my eyes.
On The Fence
The ladies of the stoop, of which Jackeé Harry is the leader, as well as the one scene Marla Gibbs has, are comic relief scenes. Now, because I like these two actresses, and they are funny, I was glad they were there, but at the same time with the tone and what happens in this movie, they stick out like sore thumbs.
While Stewart and Eisenberg relive the chemistry found in American Ultra, the way their romance is written isn't something which will make you squeal, aw, get envious over, or lead you to take notes. They are the oddly placed main characters in a story in which those in supporting characters sometimes have the potential to eclipse them.