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Posts Tagged ‘Amanda Stenberg’

Amandla Stenberg (center)

“THE HATE U GIVE” My rating: B

132 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

“The Hate U Give” begins with an African American father swallowing his rage and giving his children “the talk,” instructing them how to behave if they’re ever pulled over by the cops. For starters, don’t argue. Put both hands on the dashboard and don’t remove them until told to do so.

The film ends with a race riot of the kind seen in Ferguson MO in 2014.

Between those cringeworthy moments this movie — based on Angie Thomas young adult novel and brought to the screen by director George Tillman Jr. (“Notorious,” “Soul Food,” “Men of Honor”) — explores the world of Starr Carter (Amanda Stenberg in a star-making perf), one of the few black students at her mostly white private school.

Starr is our narrator and she points out from the get-go that she’s living a dual life.  Evenings and weekends she’s a resident of a mostly-black neighborhood, where she can just be one of the girls.

Miles away at school, though, she’s got to be whiter than the white kids (who are free to appropriate gangsta manners while Starr must cling to the straight and narrow). She’s got a white boyfriend (K.J. Aha), who seems a decent enough guy, even if he is making noises about taking their relationship up a step (nudge, nudge).

“The Hate U Give” (the title references one of Tupac’s raps) is set in motion by the death of one of  Starr’s childhood friends, Khalil (Algee Smith) in a police confrontation to which she is the only witness.

The authorities expect Starr to testify about the incident, including her knowledge that Khalil was peddling dope for local drug lord King (Anthony Mackie).  King wants to stop her from talking and will threaten Starr’s family to do so.  It doesn’t help that there’s bad blood between King and Starr’s father, Mav (Russell Hornsby), a grocery owner who broke away from the  gang years before.

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George MacKay, Amanda Stenberg

“WHERE HANDS TOUCH”  My rating: C

122 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Initially intriguing but ultimately ineffective, “Where Hand Touch” is an odd blend of “Romeo and Juliet” romance and “Pianist”-style Holocaust horror.

Its heart is in the right place. Alas, good intentions aren’t enough.

While the film mines a real-life situation rarely recognized by the arts or the history books — the plight under the Nazis of mixed-blood Germans whose mothers were Aryan  and fathers African — “Where Hands Touch” is tough going. And not just because of the downbeat subject matter.

Writer/director Amma Assante rarely opts for subtlety when a heavy hand can be employed. The result is a film that, in theory anyway, should move us deeply.  Except that it doesn’t.

Sixteen-year-old Lenya (Amanda Sternberg) comes to Berlin with her mother (a dowdied-down Abbie Cornish) and little brother (Tom Sweet) in the hopes of becoming lost. Back in their provincial burg the authorities are looking for Jews and mixed-race children. Perhaps Lenya, whose father was an African soldier with the occupying French at the end of WWI, can hide her racial heritage among the city’s masses.

The irony here is that Lenya considers herself 100 percent German…and so does the law, which defines citizenship as being passed down from mother to child.  But mixed-race children are widely viewed as a blemish on the Reich, so Lenya must be very careful where she goes and who she sees.

It’s a small miracle, then, when she is befriended by Lutz (George MacKay), a blonde Hitler Youth who is not only prejudice free but romantically taken with his exotic new neighbor.

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