How Do You Know (2010)

How Do You Know
Director: James L. Brooks
Writer: James L. Brooks
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson, Kathryn Hahn, Tony Shalhoub, Dean Norris, Teyonah Parris
Seen on: 6.9.2022

Plot:
Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) is a softball player who lives for the game. But when she is cut from the team, she has to reconfigure her entire life. That also includes deciding about her relationship with Matty (Owen Wilson), a baseball player with certain commitment issues. Her teammate (Teyonah Parris) tries to set her up with George (Paul Rudd), but George is going through a rather tumultuous life phase himself, to put it mildly: under investigation for fraud, he lost his job at his father’s (Jack Nicholson) company. Despite everything, Lisa and George meet for a friendly dinner, and actually have a connection. Now they both have to figure out where their life should be heading.

How Do You Know is okay overall, but it only gets really good at certain points. It’s watchable, but it is not particularly exciting or memorable.

The movie poster showing separate headshots of Lisa (Reese Witherspoon), Matty (Owen Wilson), George (Paul Rudd) and Charles (Jack NIcholson).
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The Photograph (2020)

The Photograph
Director: Stella Meghie
Writer: Stella Meghie
Cast: Issa Rae, LaKeith Stanfield, Chanté Adams, Y’lan Noel, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Lil Rel Howery, Teyonah Parris, Rob Morgan, Chelsea Peretti, Courtney B. Vance
Seen on: 16.9.2020

Plot:
Michael (LaKeith Stanfield) is a journalist who has been working on a story for a while. When he interviews Isaac (Rob Morgan), a photograph catches his eye in Isaac’s home. Taken by a young photographer, Christine Eames (Chanté Adams) who was obviously very important to Isaac in the past (Y’lan Noel), Michael becomes interested in Christine’s life. But Christine passed away, so instead, Michael finds her daughter Mae (Issa Rae) who works as a curator in a museum. As they both rediscover her mother’s work and her past, the two are drawn to each other more and more.

I expected The Photograph to be a sappy love story and it is certainly that but it didn’t touch me quite as much as it should have.

The film poster showing Mae (Isaa Rae) and Michael (LaKeith Stanfield) pressing their foreheads together. The image is black and white.
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If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

If Beale Street Could Talk
Director: Barry Jenkins
Writer: Barry Jenkins
Based on: James Baldwin‘s novel
Cast: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo, Ethan Barrett, Milanni Mines, Ebony Obsidian, Dominique Thorne, Michael Beach, Aunjanue Ellis, Diego Luna, Emily Rios, Ed Skrein, Finn Wittrock, Brian Tyree Henry, Dave Franco, Pedro Pascal
Seen on: 14.3.2019
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Content Note: rape, (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James) are young and very in love. But then Fonny gets arrested for a crime he didn’t commit and Tish discovers that she is pregnant. Her joy at expecting a baby from the man she loves pushes her even more to prove his innocence. Fortunately she has her family to support her.

If Beale Street Could Talk may not quite achieve the heights of Moonlight, but it is a beautiful, well-acted film that is, unfortunately, way too timely still. It’s definitely a film to be seen.

The film poster showing Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James) leaning their foreheads against each other. Superimposed in their shapes we can also see them walking down a New York street, huddled under a red umbrella.
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Dear White People (2014)

Dear White People
Director: Justin Simien
Writer: Justin Simien
Cast: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Kyle Gallner, Teyonah Parris, Brandon P Bell, Brittany Curran, Dennis Haysbert,
Seen on: 15.9.2016

Plot:
Biracial Samantha (Tessa Thompson) hosts a popular radio show on her campus where she tackles racial issues, “Dear White People”. After she wins the election for head of her House, the black only residence on campus, beating out her ex Try (Brandon P Bell), Sam gets a bigger platform for her outspoken activism and things get considerably more heated. The white students, in particular the frat led by Kurt (Kyle Gallner), want to push back by hosting a blackface party and asking Lionel (Tylor James Williams) to investigate undercover in Sam’s House. Meanwhile, Coco (Teyonah Parris) is trying to land a spot on a reality TV show, but they seem more interested in Sam and the tensions surrounding her.

Dear White People started off a bit weird for me, but once the film and I found our groove together and the story really starts, it is an enjoyable, funny film with a very serious core, presenting a perspective that is much too rare in mainstream entertainment.

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