After shooting Spenser Confidential for Netflix, Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg took a brief detour away from the action genre to make Good Joe Bell, a film inspired by the true story of a man who walked across the country to crusade against bullying. The movie played on the film festival circuit and received middling reviews (including from us at /Film), but Solstice Studios has since re-edited it, given it the new title of simply Joe Bell, and will be releasing it in theaters in February 2021, in time to compete in this very strange awards season.
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Towards the end of Good Joe Bell, Mark Wahlberg’s titular character takes a load off his feet from his cross-country walk to condemn homophobic bullying. He sits down at a police station underneath pictures of Barack Obama and Joe Biden hanging on the wall. This bit of art direction reveals what should have been obvious from the film’s overall comportment: this is a period piece.
America at large has experienced a dramatic shift in public attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community even since the Obama era. (Heck, during Joe Bell’s walk in 2013, the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional!) While homophobia remains a present threat, particularly among young people in schools, to act like there’s not significant awareness of the issue is just at odds with reality. People largely know the bullying of gay youth is a problem. And, to be clear, even a single instance of it occurring is a stain on society. But the persistence of the threat exists not out of ignorance but out of malevolence and immaturity.
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King Richard, the biopic starring Will Smith as the father and coach of tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams, has served a release date and a director. The film will bounce into theaters next November, with Reinaldo Marcus Green calling the shots. The film will track how Richard Williams trained his daughters Venus and Serena to be the best tennis players in the world.
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It’s both sad and encouraging that a cinematic vocabulary has developed around the continuing incidents of police officers shooting unarmed black men. In their most recent films, filmmakers Jordan Peele and Spike Lee have even knowingly created moments of dramatic irony around the perceived outcome of cops arriving at a nebulously defined scene. We know that they might perceive differently than the characters involved in it, producing a moment of unbearable tension. While the awareness generated after the Black Lives Matter movement propelled these longstanding injustices into public consciousness is important, such recognition has not necessarily accompanied sweeping attitudinal changes.
Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Monsters and Men, a tripartite examination of race and policing in America, is very much a movie of its moment. But with the sheer volume of other films tackling similar questions of racial identity in the face of imminent and insidious oppression – Blindspotting, Sorry to Bother You, BlacKkKlansman, to name a few from 2018 alone – it cannot lay exclusive claim to the mantle. While Green’s debut feature might not be able to match other comparable titles in the nuance of its observations, he compensates with breadth of experience documented. He crafts a film akin to The Place Beyond the Pines within the blast radius of a police shooting, watching how a community-shattering event produces fallout that creeps ever outward beyond the initial participants.
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Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?
This week we chat about our food supply, delve into a missing person case that takes a hard left turn, discover an alternative to prescription opioids, watch a story about police abuse, and give mom some love. Read More »