‘Monster’ Movie Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Monster on Netflix is a poignant story about a 17-year-old aspiring filmmaker in Harlem, who is being accused of a robbery that he was not a part of. The film stars Kelvin Harrison Jr, ASAP Rocky, Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Hudson and John David Washington. This film was truly a surprise for me because I didn’t know what I was walking into. The performances from everyone in the cast were emotional, powerful and really effective. It had a unique structure, a well-written script and interesting narrative choices to move the story forward.

On the surface the film seems like it is a generic courtroom drama with a story that we have seen quite often. The difference, in my opinion, is the execution of this story. What I found really interesting was the use of the voiceover from Steven Harmon (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), as we first see him in his jail cell. He expresses his internal thoughts as we his journey unfold. The voiceover works perfectly because it gives a different meaning to what the viewer is seeing on-screen. Since Steven is a filmmaker, the execution of this story mirrors his director’s lens in his mind and externalizes his emotions.

The film explains the negative perception that comes from the systemic racism embedded in the legal system. The film is titled, “monster” because it is one of the words used to describe Steven Harmon when he is on trial. Harmon is haunted by this word because he has never seen himself as one, and now he is questioning, what does it mean to be one? This is the emotional basis of the film and then, there is another layer of perspective, from a filmmaking standpoint that compliments this theme.

Monster is a film that is structured incredibly well because it uses its flashbacks properly. This is a very balanced way to show the events leading to his arrest in the past and then showing the trial in the present day. The performances drive the film and the direction from Anthony Mandler was intriguing. Kelvin Harrison Jr. is one of the most talented young actors working today and this is another project where he truly shines. Make sure to catch Monster on Netflix this weekend!

The Trial of the Chicago 7 Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is truly one of the best films to come out this year. It is hard to even find the words to express, how perfectly written this film is and it all comes down to the master class screenwriting from Aaron Sorkin. There’s an urgency in this script, the dialogue was short and to the point (typical Sorkin), everything was explained thoroughly and rather quickly, which kept you glued to the screen.

The film accurately captured everything that was going on, simultaneously in the late 60s. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Robert F. Kennedy was shot and the Vietnam War was at its worst. Then began the anti war protests, which changed history forever, by chanting to the American police force, “The whole world is watching,” and, they still are. History has a way of repeating itself and the more I see archival footage, used in films or documentaries, the more painful everything is to see in the current climate.

There are so many incredible moments in The Trial of the Chicago 7. There are 3 standouts from the entire ensemble, that left me in awe of their performances. Within 5 seconds of seeing Yahya’s portrayal of Bobby Seale, I can confidently tell you, that he should get an Oscar nomination for his performance. Sacha Baron Coen’s portrayal of Abbie Hoffman was also fantastic and you could tell that he really wanted to tell his story. Mark Rylance also gave a very moving performance, as radical defense attorney William Kunstler, it is probably my favourite performance of his.

Courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures and Amblin Partners
(left) Sacha Baron Cohen, Danny Flaherty, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Redmayne and Mark Rylance

What I loved the most about the film was that I could have watched it for another 2 hours and not get tired of it. I was actually so disappointed when it ended because I wanted to see more of this fantastic ensemble of actors, show up for Sorkin. A Sorkin script is never easy to get through, many actors have said that it is harder than it seems. It is fast paced and the soundtrack also brought everything together, it wasn’t overused and it came in at the right moments.

Most people have said that this film is coming out at the right time. However, this sociopolitical climate, the blatant racism, and obtaining some form of justice, for the abhorrent treatment from the American police force, has never disappeared. So is the word “timely” in a review effective anymore, when this hasn’t stopped since the 60s? The film is not a representation of this current era that we are living in. Instead it represents the long fight against systemic racism and how this level of injustice has not been handled properly.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is possibly Aaron Sorkin’s best directorial effort, and his screenplays continuously leave me stunned. The film has incredible performances from its ensemble, a wicked score and highly emotional courtroom scenes that should be played in an Oscar reel next year. It is truly one of the best Netflix Original Films I have seen and it deserves every ounce of praise that it is getting.

Make sure to watch The Trial of the Chicago 7 tomorrow on Netflix!