‘The King of Staten Island’: A comforting but somber effort from Judd Apatow

Though the film has its flaws, this newest directorial effort from Judd Apatow is a great look into Pete Davidson’s life.

CREDIT: Universal Pictures

This newest film from Judd Apatow is a semi-autobiographical look into Pete Davidson (Saturday Night Live, Trainwreck) and the several struggles in his life. Whether it starts with his suicide attempt or his rocky relationship with his mother’s new boyfriend, according to Davidson this covers 75% of his life. The film also stars Marissa Tomei, Bill Burr, Maude Apatow, and Bel Powley who all do great jobs in their performances. The film is also co-written by Davidson so it adds a form of a personal touch when approaching this film.

As always Apatow does a great job at blending comedy and drama in this film that has truly created his style of writing and directing. What I appreciate the most from the film is the way that it commentators on how one can maneuver mental illness. The film is always vocal that Scott suffers from mental illness but he is always trying to find a way out of his mind. Even though the commentary is not subtle as some might hope, this is a movie that has to be loud about its subject matter to challenge the stigma of mental health. Now, this does not make the film perfect as I have noticed with a lot of Apatow’s work, the pacing is very off that the runtime could use some trimming. Other than that, there is a lot to appreciate from The King of Staten Island (2020) that could make it one of the best of this terrible year we know as 2020.

I am not sure if as of this moment this movie could boost Davidson’s career but I have a feeling it will. Judd Apatow is no stranger to putting comedic actors on the map with his films as seen with his work with Seth Rogen, Ben Stiller, and Jonah Hill. Along with rich visuals that truly emphasize Staten Island and bring a sort of authenticity to the film, The King of Staten Island is one to watch this year. Do not sleep on this movie and share some laughs or some very caring moments as you consume this movie. Even though this is not a perfect movie it thoroughly gets its message across to its audience.

Watch The King of Staten Island on video on demand anywhere you can rent movies.

Sympathy for the Devil

an opinion on josh trank’s “capone”

This piece comes a little late, but so does everything for 2020 apparently. It has been a long time since I’ve come to sit in front of my keyboard and take up the mantle of “Cinema Reviewer,” but I felt the need to come to the defense of Josh Trank and his latest endeavor, “CAPONE” also known as “FONZO”. It seems other reviewers have not put 2015’s “Fantastic Four” behind them and still hold somewhat of a grudge when Trank’s name is brought up.

When movie audiences hear the name Al Capone, what they envision in their mind is the ruthless gangster; a criminal mastermind who ran the Chicago underworld in the 1920’s and 30’s. Maybe even Robert De Niro’s portrayal in “The Untouchables” where he wears a tuxedo and beats people to death with a baseball bat. Josh Trank’s “CAPONE” is no “The Untouchables”. It’s what happens after the glitz and glamour; where the violence and drama become silent; where old gangsters go to retire, to get old, and to fade away.

I think for many a person, they did not go in expecting what they saw in this movie. They went expecting an action movie where Capone puts his enemies down with a Thompson Submachine Gun and makes those who owe him debts eat through a straw. Those who already knew the story of Al Capone’s last years, I believe, had better expectations on what they were about to see on the screen. For those unaware, Al Capone’s last years were basically spent in what could be called medical retirement. Released from prison (his charges being that of tax evasion) early, at the age of 48, due to the complications of the late stages of syphilis which he apparently had since the age of 15. These complications included that of neurosyphilis which affects the nervous system, coordination, and can cause dementia.

So, instead of a tough talking villain, we have been shown the face of a man who is literally dying in front of us. Well, not just any man, but that of the legendary outlaw/criminal Al Capone who has been made a larger than life figure in our history and media thanks to multiple movies, books, and television shows (including that one where Geraldo Rivera’s career was destroyed and he can now only get a gig on Fox News of all places, but I will let you all research that one on your own time).

With this in mind, it is very easy to see just what Josh Trank and Tom Hardy (I can’t believe it took me this long to mention Tom Hardy in this) have accomplished. They took one of the most legendary historical figures and shone a light onto his last years and just how much of an ordinary human he was and how death is always the great equalizer. If “The Untouchables” was showcasing the climax of Capone’s legend, then “CAPONE” is it’s lowest depths, where he crawls slowly to that awaiting grave. Trank does not falter and does not shy away from showing the fragility of Capone, putting Tom Hardy in frame to drool over himself, smoke a carrot like Bugs Bunny, scream as his possessions are being sold off, and even shitting his silk drawers.

I personally think “CAPONE” is a marvelous insight into the final years of one of the most legendary and vile humans to walk the face of this earth. Al Capone doesn’t deserve our sympathy, but Josh Trank’s brilliance in storytelling and Tom Hardy’s gift of acting helps to rip it from us. ~ YoungYoda

“It’s a good lie.”

A Review of the farewell

Photo Credit: businessinsider.com

This may be the most difficult review I will ever have to write for a movie.  Lulu Wang has created art which crosses all thresholds and is relatable to any audience. The Farewell is masterful in dredging up familiar moments.  Moments which include the happiness of family gatherings to the horrible, gut-churning acceptance of a reality where cancer may soon take your patriarch. 

Its portrayals of the ridiculousness of how families deal with both marriage and death are both different yet recognizable.  Even though this family is predominately of Chinese origins, any race or culture can understand and appreciate the events happening on the screen in their own lives.  Even the dinner scenes have those similar bickering moments between relatives we’ve all had to be witness to.  This is a film whose emotional connection to its audience may be unmatched by any film which has ever come before it (and I do not say this lightly). 

The superb casting works hand in hand with the script to create a family unit that comes across as being real and not one haphazardly thrown together to be portrayed on the big screen.  I would be very surprised and disappointed if Awkwafina does not garner a Best Actress Oscar Nomination for her portrayal of Billi, the somewhat somber and cynical grandchild of the bubbly and full of life (and also unfortunately cancer) Nai Nai, played by Zhao Shuzhen.  The supporting cast also help to carry the burden of Nai Nai’s cancer (as they refuse to tell her as to not scare her to an earlier grave) throughout the film.  Their interactions help show every side of a family trying to deal with the ever-looming presence of death including humor, guilt, and heartbreak. 

The vulnerability presented in The Farewell is as unnerving as it is beautiful.  This along with the ending scene, which is almost a guarantee to elicit the waterworks, is why I am calling this the best film of the year and it is only September. 10/10 long cries. YoungYoda out.

(P.S. This review is purposely short as words are difficult when it comes to the emotional intensity of this film.  My suggestion is to go watch it and understand where I’m coming from.  Much love.)