Phil Knight (Ben Affleck) with his bare feet on his desk

Hollywood fixes capitalism, just like it used to do in the 1980s, with Air, the story of Nike getting together with basketball ace Michael Jordan to create the Air Jordan, the most popular sneaker of all time. Like Jordan, it’s got the skills, is light on its feet and moves at pace, introducing first the era in its opening moments with the Dire Straits song Money for Nothing behind a montage of Ronald Reagan, Princess Diana, Rubik’s Cubes, The A Team, dial-up modems and Jane Fonda (workout era). Then, barely pausing for breath, it’s on to its dramatis personae – persona, really, since this story focuses hard on central character Sonny Vaccaro (Matt … Read more

The Woman King

Nanisca and new recruit Nawi

The Viola Davis “is there nothing she can’t do?” list gets a bit longer with The Woman King, an action epic with issues it wants to address, but first it wants to show us Davis, oiled up and charging into battle as the warrior commander of a deadly elite troupe of female African soldiers in West Africa in the 18th century. That shock – impressive, entirely believeable – out of the way, the film settles down to tell the story of Nawi (Thuso Mbedu), a feisty young woman reluctant to marry whose father “gives” her instead to the king. She ends up as one of the Agojie, the deadly female force of Dahomey, a … Read more

The Suicide Squad

Harley Quinn screams

The Suicide Squad, not to be confused with Suicide Squad from five years ago, fixes the mistake made by the 2016 movie, which got bogged down in plot. The Suicide Squad does that by not really having one. Or if it does it treats it as something to be vaguely referred to now and again, like a map by a driver who knows his way. The driver here is James Gunn, who does just about everything right in this super-sequel follow-up to the Dirty Dozen of comicbook movies. The first film was quite simply terrible, though bursting with great things, a kind of satire on Marvel movies, if you wanted to see it … Read more

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Viola Davis as blues queen Ma Rainey

Black Panther and Da 5 Bloods star Chadwick Boseman died 12 days after shooting wrapped on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, a fact that colours its critical reception. No one on set even knew that this firecracker performer was ill, let alone that he was being treated for stage four cancer. Put another way, the film isn’t quite as great as some people say – a good film, a fine film, well acted, snappily directed for sure – but hobbled by its forked construction. Is it actually about Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), or her cocky trumpeter Levee, played by Boseman? The other fact is that excellent though Boseman is, so are all the other … Read more