No clever segue or story. Though I’ve seen plenty of cardboard stands about this movie around my local AMC theater, practically covered in praise. But I don’t think I’ve seen a trailer in any of the movies I’ve been to recently.
The story looks like it’s about an ex-convict who is trying to live the straight-and-narrow, but his best friend, who is still a troublemaker, keeps roping him back in for trouble.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Daveed Diggs (FERDINAND , and the upcoming VELVET BUZZSAW ), Rafael Casal (stuff I’ve never seen or heard of), Janina Gavankar (STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT II ), and Wayne Knight (HAIL, CAESAR! ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Carlos López Estrada, known for stuff I’ve never seen or heard of. Co-writing the screenplay are co-stars Diggs and Casal, making their feature film debut. Congrats, guys. Composing the score is Michael Yezerski, known for stuff I’ve never seen or heard of. The cinematographer is Robby Baumgartner, known for BLAIR WITCH (2016), and the upcoming DARKNESS VISIBLE (2018). Finally, the editor is Gabriel Fleming, known for PATRIOTS DAY (2016), and the upcoming ANGEL HAS FALLEN (2019).
Overall, this looks like it’ll be… fine, I guess. I mean, I’ve seen movies like this about an ex-convict trying to lead an upstanding life, but is pulled in for more criminal stuff. Hell, it’s not even the first movie to have this plotline this year alone. Some of the camerawork looks weird, but I admit that this could just be a bad trailer to an otherwise good movie. We’ll see, but I’m not going in with high expectations.
This is my honest opinion of: BLINDSPOTTING
Set in Oakland, California. Eleven months ago, Collin Hoskins (Daveed Diggs) was released from prison on probation. Now, doing his best to live clean and responsibly working for a moving company called Commander Moving, he’s only got three days left until his probationary period ends, which has been a trying experience. One of the terms of his probation is that he can’t be associated with criminal activity, which includes his childhood best friend Miles (Rafael Casal) carrying around a gun. One night after work, Collin is on his way home when he witnesses a police office gun down a black man named Randall Marshall (Travis Parker). Though nothing happens to him regarding the incident, he goes home and is haunted by the occurrence.
Alright, so while I think there’s nothing all that “open America’s eyes” about it, this is definitely a lot better than I thought it was going to be.
For one thing, this is mostly a comedy, so when the comedy hits, it’s right on the money. I got more than a few good laughs out of this, so I appreciated that. There’s this scene where Collin’s mother Nancy (Margo Hall) is giving away some of her old hair curlers, which causes Miles to hatch an idea to sell them to the local beauty shop, scamming them out to be the highest in high tech hair styling technology and manages to sell them… but only if they prove the curling irons work, and the tragic victim is Collin’s dreads, and he looks like a Pomeranian lost a wrestling match with static electricity. Well, okay, that’s what his IMDb pic makes him look like, but it’s uncomfortably straight and looks all kinds of wrong on his head. Maybe it’s this cheap bottle of Quail Oak rosé talking as I write this review, but I’m still laughing at Collin’s reaction. His look of sheer, unbridled hatred is a classic kodak moment.
But even better, if the movie isn’t being funny, there’s a lot of heart in it to get you attached to the characters. I love Collin’s friendship with Miles, clearly showcasing their real world friendship on screen and it works wonders. These two together are a damned riot and might even deserve their own sitcom. NO WAIT, a Family Guy-styled animation! Make it happen, Diggs and Casal! Something for Netflix though, so you’re not weighted down by the pesky FCC. None of that kid-friendly shit. Nickelodeon and CartoonNetwork have that covered. But more than their friendship, I like how Collin is with Miles’ son Sean (Ziggy Baitinger). They have a very playful friendship, letting that kid jump up and down on him, it’s pretty cute to watch. I think no one would realistically go so long with their pretend fighting, but cuteness is cuteness, so shut the fuck up and go, “aww” like the rest of the well-adjusted human race you sociopathic Neanderthals. By God, I’ve had a lot of rosé.
Bar none, one of my favorite scenes is right after Miles has gotten himself into a fight with another dude and he and Collin run away after Miles stupidly takes out his gun and fires more than a few shots into the sky to scare everyone at a party. Collin and Miles have a really important talk about perception. About how Collin is seen as the atypical black dude, with braided hair, as if that somehow immediately makes him a gangster, and the police wouldn’t hesitate to shoot him compared to the white guy, due to the inherent nature of racism among law-enforcement in rough neighborhoods. Which it unbelievably unfair to him because he’s trying to stay clean and walk the straight-and-narrow. Sure, Miles isn’t a gangster or anything, but he lives in those rough neighborhoods where people get robbed, or killed at any time and he’s only looking to protect either himself, or his family. But this puts certain things in perspective. Collin is living his life as an upstanding citizen, Miles is constantly getting into trouble, causing Collin to exclaim that the person that the inherently-racist police are after is someone like Miles, not Collin. But because Miles is white, he’s less likely to be suspected of criminality than Collin is. Look, none of this scene is anything we movie-goers haven’t heard before. It’s in everything that tackles this subject matter. DETROIT (2017) and even ZOOTOPIA (2016) tackle these themes, and this is just in the last year or so off the top of my head. But… if you’re going to repeat something that others have said before, might as well present it in a better way, and that’s what BLINDSPOTTING does. It presents its clichéd arguments from a passionate, and likable set of characters, so we feel the weight and gravity of the situation here than from lesser films.
By the way, I was really close to giving this movie an immediate 1/5 because in one of the earliest scenes. Collin, Miles, and one of their friends are eating food in the car from some fictional fast food joint when one of the lids for their dipping sauces reads, “Umami.” They were talking shit about it and my first reaction was to immediately hate on this movie for talking about Umami Burger. For those of you that don’t know, Umami Burger is the best burger joint you’ll ever find. Better than In-n-Out, if you live in California. Anyway, as someone who loves to dine at the Hollywood location across from the Arclight theater and the Amoeba record store (some free publicity for everyone), AND as someone who used to work for Umami Burger and misses the job terribly, I do not accept any form of criticism against the establishment. I am too deep in this pit of love to ever want to hear something negative about Umami. As it turns out, the scene in question is… likely… not a jab at Umami Burger itself and was just being funny in its own universe as a place that gives “Umami sauce” or whatever. Still… watch yourself, movie. I won’t eat a burger from anywhere if it isn’t from Umami, and that’s a fact. Anyway, fun fact for everyone reading.
Overall, this is a good movie. Damn good, in some areas. I might say that there’s some really forced humor and tropes that anyone can see resolved from a mile away, but I still recommend this. Like I said, I may not agree with the critics who praise this as the Second Coming, but it’s a fun and well-written flick. Just like that nasty-sounding green drink, it ain’t bad.
My honest rating for BLINDSPOTTING: a strong 4/5
This week’s reviews:
- THE EQUALIZER 2
- UNCHARTED (fan film)
- UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB
- MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN
- PRINCESS MONONOKE (1997)
Next week’s reviews: