BLACK IS KING Review


By: Amanda Guarragi 

Black Is King is an intricate, personal and deeply moving visceral album, that revised the old tale of The Lion King. Beyoncé Knowles – Carter represents the roots of Black culture and history through the tale of Simba, a young Lion who is the heir to the throne. The representation of a young Black child, next in line, to be King, in his own bloodline, was incredibly moving. It is about family values, loving your heritage and passing all that down to the next generation.

Beyoncé is, and will always be, the best and most brilliant artist of our generation because she has developed a higher level of Entertainment. She is on another level of genius through the medium of music and as a visual storyteller. Her direction, among the other extremely talented directors that created this beautiful piece, including; Emmanuel Adjei, Pierre Debusschere, Jenn Nkiru, Ibra Ake, Dikayl Rimmasch, Jake Nava and Kwasi Fordjour. They all brought different styles and presented beautiful symmetry through dimensional art pieces throughout the film.

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Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios 

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Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios 

The songs are really empowering and uplifting, it is a wonderful way to tell different stories and it seems as if Beyoncé has mastered that, as we were first introduced to her style in Lemonade. She is a perfectionist and it shows through her art and the fact that she has presented this elevated level of storytelling, at this point in her career, shows that she is not stopping and will continue to excel. She has pushed the boundaries for Black creatives and has given a stunning visceral album about Black culture, that spans across the globe.

Black Is King is a perfect visual album and Beyoncé is the Entertainer of the Decade with everything that she has accomplished. This piece is so meticulous and vibrant because of her detail in the costume design and production for each video. It is pieced together with poems and voice overs from The Lion King  (2019) and it revamps the story to fit it’s true, original form, that it was intended to be through Black heritage.

The High Note Review


By: Amanda Guarragi 

The High Note is a perfectly composed film that effortlessly shows the production journey in the music industry. It had an authentic feel and a nostalgic atmosphere because of Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross) and her very long, successful music career. The film is about women in different places in the industry, one a superstar and the other an assistant/wannabe producer Maggie Sherwoode (Dakota Johnson). Their relationship appears strong but it is definitely tested throughout the film. It is written by Flora Greeson and directed by Nisha Ganatra (Late Night) who delivered one of the best films of the year.

It is one of the most interesting films that shows the musical journey in Hollywood. Grace Davis is a middle aged woman in the industry, who has locked a Vegas residency. Everyone loves the icon and her assistant Maggie wants to push for a new album, instead of extending the contract for another year. Maggie goes above and beyond her paygrade and ends up getting into arguments with Davis’ manager, Jack Robertson (Ice Cube) who keeps putting her in her place. Flora Greeson accurately tells the story of reinventing a brand and an artists story, through multiple perspectives from the people around her.

This cast is truly something special, they all had wonderful chemistry together, which made for a great ensemble piece for everyone involved. Tracee Ellis Ross was stunning. I don’t know any other way to put it but she just gave off this elegance and prowess in her performance as Grace Davis. Dakota Johnson was lovely in this role and really carried the story with her characters dream to be a producer one day. Ice Cube was cast perfectly as Davis’ manager and definitely had the quippy attitude down pat. While watching this film, the one that truly surprised me was Kelvin Harrison Jr. who played David Cliff in the film. The man is very talented but hearing him sing, just elevated my adoration for him and he should be the name on everyone’s lips after this film.

Everything about this film flowed beautifully from scene to scene. The sound design and soundtrack that accompanied each scene worked so well together, as if everything was placed to shed light on the power of music. It was so heartwarming and you could feel the passion for music from everyone who worked on this film. There was so much care and love into creating this story and you could feel it from the entire team. The direction was great and there were many humorous moments that released some of the tension.

It was important to shed light on the treatment of women in the music industry, especially Black middle aged women in the music industry. Tracee Ellis Ross presented such raw emotion when discussing the sexism, ageism and racial issues that plague the industry. It was also important to highlight the difficulty a female producer would face and the connection shared between Davis and Maggie was important to this story. They shared such a beautiful friendship and I think it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of this film.

The High Note is refreshing and one of the best films of the year. This was a film that needed to be made because it highlights the lives of women in the music industry, in a way that no other film has. This film is also filled with plenty of surprises, especially the twist at the end, which made for a pretty emotional final performance. It is a film that captures women in such a unique light and shows that they are strong enough to create a pathway, for everyone to follow suit. It is all about taking risks and putting in the hardwork, in order to achieve your goals in life.

 

 

Trolls World Tour Review


by: Amanda Guarragi 

Trolls World Tour is a colourful and heartfelt sequel, which brings Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) back together to discover the history of the Trolls Kingdom. They discover that there are six troll scribes that are scattered around the kingdom, devoted to six different genres of music: Funk, Country, Techno, Classical, Pop and Rock. Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) from the land of Rock wants to take over the entire Kingdom, by converting everyone into rock zombies.

The story is very well written because each genre of music stems from a certain culture and each land is modelled after the genre of music. It’s a lot of fun to go on the journey with Branch and Queen Poppy because of how the music eventually blends together. It is a bit slow at times because the focus is mainly on the musical medleys and some drag on more than others, or else the mixture of all these sounds is quite refreshing. The reason why Trolls works is because of how they remix the songs while still giving credit to the original sound.

I have to admit I really loved the Rock Trolls because of how dark and edgy they were. Their song choices were awesome and having Ozzy Osbourne cast as Queen Barb’s father was genius. They really captured the essence of rock in a kids movie, which is hard to do without going full punk rock. They covered “Crazy Train”, “Barracuda” and “Rock You Like A Hurricane” so well and Rachel Bloom knocked each song out of the park.

The whole point of Trolls World Tour is that everyone is unique in their own way. Each genre of music is different but is needed to blend different sounds together to make another form of music. They have used music kingdoms to represent different cultures and they actually acknowledge their differences. They addressed that the Pop genre has taken credit for the music that has come before it. Queen Poppy struggles with the idea of wanting everyone to get along and be the same but each troll has a unique musical spirit that should be acknowledged based on their culture.

I loved the integration of different music and the animation from DreamWorks was top tier. They use different animation when retelling stories from the past from the Trolls Kingdom and it flows so nicely from scene to scene. The cast in this sequel was jam packed and it was great to recognize some familiar voices like Kelly Clarkson, Mary J. Blige, Kenan Thompson and Sam Rockwell. It’s such a fun film and it has a beautiful story that creatively addresses how we all need to come together and celebrate each other’s differences, so we can live in harmony with music.