Watch the whole thing HERE!
Posts Tagged ‘Beyond the Lights’
Watch the whole thing HERE!
Hollywood is in the habit of remaking everything these days, relying on brand recognition to sell their movies, so it’s hard to understand why this remake of “The Bodyguard” is called “Beyond the Lights.” Sure, the character names are different, it was written by different people, Kevin Costner is nowhere to be seen and it’s an “original” story but a sense of déjà vu hangs heavy over the movie’s every frame.
When we first meet Noni Jean she’s a young girl with a set of pipes to revival any American Idol contestant. Her mother and manager—her momanger—Macy Jean (Minnie Driver) is a determined presence with her eye set on superstardom for her daughter. Cut to a few years later, Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is now a hip hop star à la Rihanna. She’s on the cusp of fame, has a rapper boyfriend and a record about to come out that is guaranteed to be a hit. One night, just days before a big performance at the Billboard Awards, the pressure gets to be too much and Noni tries to jump off the balcony of her hotel room. She is rescued by Kaz (Nate Parker), a handsome police officer working on her security detail who grabs her hand just as she is about to tumble in to the tabloid headlines.
A romance blossoms between the two, despite the protests of their parents. Kaz’s father (Danny Glover), a retired police officer is grooming his charismatic son for a career in politics while Macy Jean simply wants sever any ties to the suicide story. Noni and Kaz, however, have a special bond, one born out of an understanding of what it’s like to have pushy parents and wanting to do your own thing.
Director Gina Prince-Bythewood trowels the melodrama on thick in this sensationalistic show-biz fable but that doesn’t stop her from commenting on the downside of notoriety in a way that hasn’t been done since “A Star Is Born” chronicled the decline of singer John Norman Howard (Kris Kristofferson). It’s an occasionally scorching look at the world of fame, but defaults to soap opera theatrics to keep the plot moving forward.
None of this would register if Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker weren’t such compelling performers. Mbatha-Raw wowed in last year’s “Belle” and shines here playing both sides of Noni’s personality, the onstage diva and conflicted offstage woman. If anyone sees “Beyond the Lights” a star may be born. Her chemistry with Parker is undeniable and together they overcome the film’s unnecessary plot theatrics.
Richard: Mark, looking around at the press today in the lobby of the Inter Continental, the host hotel for the media, put me in the mind of an episode of The Walking Dead. Everyone is beat and there are still a few days to go, movies to see and celebrities to be coddled and interviewed. The end, howeVER, is in sight and to me right now it looks like a big glowing orb. A delicious orb of made of cookie dough and beer. How’s it going for you?
Mark: Day 8 of the hostage crisis and no signs of release, Richard. Haven’t eaten a proper meal since TIFF started. Very little sleep. No contact with my family. They’ve turned me into a broken man and I’m ready to talk, to name names and talk about where the gems are. And there have been some real gems in the festival so far. Any faves, my friend?
RC: Reese Witherspoon had a couple of movies at the festival. The Good Lie is a Blind Side-esque story of a social worker who helps three Sudanese Lost Boys find work in America and reunite with their sister. It got a standing ovation at the gala BEFORE the stars came out. Pretty rare for a credit roll to bring people to their feet. She’s also in Wild, the story of a troubled woman who hikes 1100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. Filled with happiness, pain, sorrow and more melancholy than a Patsy Cline ballad, it feels like a life on parade. Like puzzle pieces the snippets piece together to eventually form a whole. And it’s funny too. I’m still laughing about the “lady hobo” scene.
MB: I found Beyond the Lights to be a terrible movie-fraudulent and packaged, with bad concert footage in place of plot and character development. It’s the story of a Beyonce-type diva who finds her true self, but I’ve never seen the journey to authenticity portrayed with such little authenticity. Yet in this bad movie-and I mean Showgirls bad-movie, there are the two leads transcending the material at each moment. Gugu Mbatha-Raw fills the screen with her electric presence, and Nate Parker as her Bodyguard redux cop boyfriend delivers an impressively restrained performance.
RC: I’d put Jack O’Connell in the stars to watch category. Every year there is someone to look out for. A few years ago Michael Fassbinder became a big star after his portrayal of hunger striker Bobby Sands helped make Hunger one of the big hits of the festival. In 71 O’Connell plays a rookie British soldier lost in an IRA controlled part of Belfast at the height of “The Troubles.” It’s a break out, and is a nice sedt up to his next movie, the Angelina Jolie directed war-drama Unbroken based on the life of WWII POW and Olympic distance runner Louis Zamperini. I also think Bang Bang Baby’s Jane Levy could break big after TIFF this year.
MB: I’d put Julia Sarah Stone in that category too. The lead in Wet Bum, she brings a wide-eyed innocence and slow burn to the coming of age picture. The movie meant something extra to me because I, too, came from a family that owned nursing homes. The movie is slight, though, and not a lot happens in it, which is why it’s so important we identify with the young girl. Unfortunate title, though, and I think you may get websites you’re not looking for when you google it.