A Wrinkle in Time

March 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon
Directed by: Ava DuVernay (“Selma”)
Written by: Jennifer Lee (“Frozen”) and Jeff Stockwell (“Bridge to Terabithia”)

Adapted from the 1962 fantasy novel by Madeleine L’Engle, the cinematic version of “A Wrinkle in Time” is a massive mess. It’s unfortunate, especially since rising filmmaking star Ava DuVernay (“Selma”), who is breaking barriers for women of color behind the camera, will have to chalk this one up as her first dud in a young but impressive career that started with the 2012 award-winning sleeper drama “Middle of Nowhere.”

“A Wrinkle in Time” is a convoluted fairy tale that attempts to turn its nonsensical narrative into something compelling. Sadly, the story, which was considered by many in the industry to be unfilmable (so was “Life of Pi,” and that turned out brilliant), is a bad combination of technobabble plotting, underwritten characters and overdone and unrealistic CGI effects.

When scientist Mr. Murray (Chris Pine) finds a wormhole allowing him to time travel billions of light years, he makes the leap, but gets lost for four years somewhere, we suppose, in all the wrinkles. When his daughter Meg (Storm Reid) finds out she is the only one that can bring him home, she makes a journey to find him inside the depths of time with her little brother, friend and three enchanted beings – Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey).

Far from a future classic, “A Wrinkle in Time” will be relegated to the category where forgotten fantasy family fare like “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl” takes up space.

Selma

January 9, 2015 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo
Directed by: Ava DuVernay (“Middle of Nowhere”)
Written by: Paul Webb (debut)

As such an important figure in the history of the United States, it is equal parts incredible and perplexing to think that there has yet to be a biopic of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. First out of the gate, however, is Ava DuVernay’s “Selma,” and despite a few roadblocks in production, her film feels very much worth the wait.

In 1965, African Americans were legally allowed to vote, yet many in the South were still facing unfair restrictions as they tried to register. Unable to get President Lyndon Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) to pass a law prohibiting these unfair voting restrictions, civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and other members of his movement decide to organize a march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama as the culmination of a series of dangerous protests.

Any discussion of “Selma” starts and ends with David Oyelowo’s electric portrayal of Dr. King. As magnetic as any performance this year, Oyelowo completely embodies King, bringing life, nuance, and often times subtlety to a larger-than-life figure. Oyelowo is, of course, at his absolute finest when he is delivering energetic and intense speeches, yet there are smaller moments such as a scene with the father of a member of the movement who has been killed that really show the depth of performance. As his foil, a hard-edged Wilkinson makes for a great LBJ, stonewalling King in his quest for legislation.

In an interesting wrinkle, the rights to King’s actual speeches reside with another studio and were not able to be purchased by the filmmakers of “Selma.” As such, director DuVernay was tasked with re-writing King’s speeches for the film. Her work is exceptional, as she is able to skirt by copyright law and give the character rousing material sounding exactly like King’s actual speeches. Of course, it helps to have Oyelowo giving her words such dramatic weight.

Though largely coincidental, “Selma” happens to be a film that is incredibly timely. Moviegoers will undoubtedly notice parallels between what they’ve seen on TV from Ferguson, Missouri and the events of the film, especially as police launch tear gas at protestors. If nothing else, the comparisons reinforce the still reverberating racial tension that reached a fever pitch in the most intense sequences of “Selma” and carry on through the country today.

By focusing on just the voting rights marches, screenwriter Paul Webb successfully avoids one of the most common pitfalls of biopics, which is casting too big of a net and spanning too much of a subjects life. In keeping things condensed, Webb’s story is able to resonate deeper and leads to a clean and powerful story arc. Anchored by Oyelowo’s performance, “Selma” is the rare Hollywood biopic that is as raw as it is polished and powerful, making it one of the better civil rights movies in recent memory.