The Kitchen 2019

The Kitchen
When it comes to gangster films, female characters usually fall into one of two categories. If they have any sort of prominence within the narrative, they usually fall within the romantic or familial label: wife/girlfriend/mistress/love interest or the sister/mother/ daughter/grandmother. If they are not prominent within the narrative, they are a nameless and faceless background character. In The Kitchen, the women are front and center. It’s too bad that The Kitchen isn’t a good example of this change in the genre.
The following review will be spoiler free.


Directed By: Andrea Berloff
Written By: Andrea Berloff (screenplay), Ming Doyle (comic book series) and Ollie Masters (comic book series)
Starring: Melissa McCarthyTiffany HaddishElisabeth Moss, Brian d’Arcy James, Jeremy Bobb, James Badge Dale, Margo Martindale, and Domnhall Gleeson
In 1978, the Irish mob known as the Westies unofficially ran Hell’s Kitchen, a neighborhood in Manhattan. Three of their members are arrested by the FBI and sent to jail. Jimmy Brennan and Kathy Brennan (Brian d’Arcy James and Melissa McCarthy) are the picture of a solid marriage with two growing children. Kevin O’ Carroll (James Badge Dale) is married to Ruby (Tiffany Haddish), but his mother Helen (Margo Martindale) is not exactly pleased that her son married an African-American woman. Rob Walsh (Jeremy Bobb) has been verbally and physically abusing his wife Claire (Elisabeth Moss) for years.
When their husbands are sentenced to three years in jail, Kathy, Ruby, and Claire are at a loss. Unable to support themselves, their only option is to step into their husband’s roles. But the men who run the mob are none too pleased that these women are not content to stay in the traditional roles of marriage and motherhood.

A Feminist Tale That is Timeless

Based on the graphic novel of the same name (which I have zero knowledge of), The Kitchen is at its core a female empowerment story. Frankly, this film is badly needed, in spite of its major flaws. Though there have been improvements in the number of speaking roles for women and performers of color, the numbers don’t lie. Male performers (who are also mostly Caucasian) still have the most screen time and the larger share of the narrative. Behind the camera is the same issue. White men are still the majority when it comes to directing. In this film, writer/director Andrea Berloff does her part to even the numbers out both in front of the camera and behind the camera.

Widows, it is Not

That being said, not even the strong feminist presence can make up for what is essentially a lackluster film. One of my favorite films last year was Widows. Based on the trailer, I was hoping that this film would be just as good. While on the surface, both films are similar, The Kitchen fails where Widows succeeds.
Though the core narrative of both films is very similar, Widows is an electrifying, intense and dramatic crime thriller with non-traditional female leads that keeps the audience on their toes until the end credits roll down the screen. The Kitchen does have some moments of dramatic tension, but those moments are few and far between.
Image via IndieWire

Tiffany Haddish is a Damn Good Actress

Two years ago, Tiffany Haddish burst in the minds and hearts of audiences in the comedy Girls Trip. Since then, she has proven to be a gifted comedic actress. But drama is a different animal entirely. Many comedic actors have tried to switch gears and play a dramatic role, but few effectively make the jump from comedy to drama. I’m not the biggest fan of Haddish, but I was impressed with her character and the arc that she plays. Her character could have easily been a victim, both as a woman and a person of color in a world that respects neither. But Ruby is tough, smart and underestimated by the men around her.

A Waste of Good Talent

Melissa McCarthy is one of the funniest women on screen these days. Her scenes in Bridesmaids were the cherry on top of one of what I think is one of the greatest film comedies of all time. Elisabeth Moss has major drama cred, especially given her iconic roles in The Handmaid’s Tale and Mad Men. Tiffany Haddish may not have as long of a CV as her co-stars, but whatever it is that is required to make it in Hollywood, she has it and then some. These women are on the top of their professional game as performers and all three are mostly wasted in The Kitchen.
Image via The Playlist

Domnhall Gleeson Plays What is Essentially a Female Role

If there is one good think about this film, it is its switching of traditional male and female roles. In this film, Domnhall Gleeson plays a role that in most gangster films, would be played by a woman. His character, as a companion and love interest, is helpful to the main characters. But his role is not as critical to the overall narrative as the lead female characters are. While I certainly appreciate this gender swap, it again cannot make up for the obvious issues with this film.

Final Thoughts

If I had to sum up this movie in one word, it would be disappointing. Upon watching the trailer, I was excited to see a film centered around three women who step into a man’s world and succeed on their own terms. However, there are too many problems with this film in total.
There are only a handful of films in which I dislike intensely and will not waste another moment of my time on. The Kitchen is one of these films.

Grade: D+

the kitchen
Image via IndieWire

‘Aquarela’ Shows Climate Change Without a Filter

Nature is continuously beguiling. From changing flora to shifting land formations, there’s always something beautiful to behold. Take water, for instance, which is always changing form and the landscape around it. In Aquarela, Viktor Kossakovsky’s mission was to capture water in this way from many different perspectives, with each telling a different side of the story…and the possible dangers that can come with them.
The following review will be spoiler-free.


Directed By: Viktor Kossakovsky
Written By: Viktor Kossakovsky and Aimara Reques
Produced By: Heino Deckert, Sigrid Dyekj√¶r, and Aimara Reques
Water is the main protagonist in Aquarela, where we see it in all its glory. From frozen waters in Russia to the dangers of Hurricane Irma in Miami, Aquarela depicts water in all its forms and the effect that it has on all of us.

Aquarela is Truly a Technological Advancement…If Sony Pictures Classics Lets It Happen

Like with most nature documentariesAquarela puts an emphasis on its technology to show its landscapes in all their glory. Yet Aquarela is doing something a bit different by altering the frame rate of the footage. The standard frame rate in film (i.e. the number of frames in a second of film) is 24 frames per second, and this was mostly because this was a repeatable speed that camera operators could hand-crank the camera back in the silent era to produce the illusion of motion. The framing stuck around over time and has now become the industry standard. However, Aquarela director Viktor Kossakovsky thinks that we should move forward, which is why he made an emphasis of shooting with a higher frame rate.
The ready and available cut of Aquarela is 48 frames per second, similar to the experiment that we saw in the Hobbit films. However, if Kossakovky gets his way with distributor Sony Pictures Classics, the film will be shown in 96 frames per second. Although cameras now have the capability for much higher frame rates — with some reaching nearly 300 fps — very few filmmakers have experimented with a rate above 60. There are technological issues with showing a film at 96 fps as well, as many theaters do no have projectors that can show films in such a format.
I hope that Kossakovsky gets his wish because Aquarela is already fascinating to see in 48 fps. It’s one of the few examples of film using a higher frame rate that works tremendously because it enhances the shots of nature in every way. Instead of making everything appear far too fluid as many have complained about increased frame rates in the past, Aquarela is crisp and stunning in every way imaginable.
image via BFI Southbank

A Story of Water in Multiple Sections

Aquarela is the story of water in many different forms, broken down into different sections. One section — and my favorite section at that — follows lake workers who retrieve items that fall through the iced-over body of water, including people in cars who think the ice is strong enough to hold them as they drive over top of it. The film then switches its focus to glaciers crashing into the water below, and then another completely different section after that (and on and on). Aquarela lives in these moments for a considerable amount of time and manages to get across some haunting and poignant messages without a single word of dialogue.
It’s almost as if Aquarela is a hyperlink film…but for water. Or even an anthology film of sorts. It shows just about every angle of water in nature you could imagine, and they all come together for a resoundingly strong message.
image via DocumentaryNews

Aquarela Runs a Bit Long

I must admit that while I am certainly a fan of this movie and all its beauty, do I really need to watch different forms of water for 90 minutes to understand the point that Viktor Kossakovsky is trying to make? I don’t think so.
Glaciers fall into the water for what seems like an eternity in the middle section of this film, and, if I’m being honest, this section and others like it could have been cut in half and this documentary would have had the same effect if it were a documentary short. It all feels repetitive after not too long, and I grew rather impatient fairly quickly. As such, I fear that Aquarela will not have the widespread love and intrigue for which everyone involved would hope.
(However, kudos to Kossakovsky and the crew who decided to add metal instrumentals to the film. Not only does it enliven the doc with a different feel, but it also helps keep you alert!)

Final Thoughts

Though I imagine that Aquarela will have a tough time reaching wide audiences, there’s no question that it is a technical feat that should be celebrated. Viktor Kossakovsky captures nature in such a way that should make all Disney nature documentaries ashamed as he pushes the boundaries of what the medium can do.
Will I ever watch it again? Maybe not, but a lot of films only require one viewing to make an impact.

Grade: B

Image via BFI Southbank

First look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 & 10+

Today Samsung announced that we are officially getting two new Galaxy Notes: the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+. With these releases, Samsung is solving the age-old problem of size with the Note. There are now multiple options for you to pick from. It's all about the choice, this way if you want a device with the S-Pen and the performance, there's an model to fill that need.

You get a 6.3-inch display on the Note 10 and a 6.8-inch display on the Note 10+. Both of these come with Super AMOLED Infinity-O displays and feature a tiny pinhole selfie camera located square-center at the top. Those specs are mostly the same across both sizes.

The S-Pen has new air actions and is lighter

Samsung's S-Pen is of course, what makes a Galaxy Note a Note. This smart stylus allows you to turn your phone into a notepad, artist drawing board, or even just a doodler. You can use it to navigate the device, play games with precision and edit photos. It's really another interface to control the Galaxy Note, and as expected, we got some updates to it this year.

If you saw last week's new Galaxy Tab S6, you got a bit of a sneak peek. A new set of Air Actions are arriving on the S-Pen in Note 10 and Note 10+.The button on the S-Pen gives you control of several features on the phone. You can use it to take a selfie, open an app, and several other functions. Even better, Note 10 and 10+ can convert handwriting from the S-Pen into typed text out of the box.

For starters, it's a bit lighter. The color of the S-Pen will match that of your Note 10 or Note 10+ as well. From my first impression, it still feels like an S-Pen. It's not a full redesign with new feature sets, but an upgrade to what already works.

Infinity-O with a fingerprint sensor

All experiences should look great on the 6.3-inch or 6.8-inch Super AMOLED Infinity-O display. Both of these are HDR 10+ certified and rated for Dolby Vision. The resolution is respectively 2280 X 1080 with 401 pixels per inch and 3040 X 1440 with 498 pixels per inch. During my hands-on time, I was impressed with the vibrancy of the screen, and the contrast was able to display some pretty dark blacks.

I'm looking forward to diving deeper into this and seeing how the new location for the Infinity-O hole stacks up.

Down towards the center of the lower half of the device, you'll find an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. This is the same technology we saw on the S10 and S10+, so Samsung is likely installing screen protectors from the get go.. Keep in mind that results may vary in the beginning, and it will get better with time as Samsung
pushes out updates. You can also use the front-facing lens for facial recognition, but this isn't truly biometric.

High-performance specs

These are both flagships in every way, and like the Galaxy S10 and S10+, the two Notes share specs. Both are running Android 9.0 with Samsung's One UI. This new interface first premiered on the S10 family and offers a less clunky experience. It shows a resurgence in both hardware and software teams working to create a device that stands out.

Powering the experience will be a zippy 64-bit octa-core processor with either 8GB or 12GB of RAM, depending on the model you opt for. A Note 10 features 8GB while the Note 10+ gets 12GBs of RAM. Either way, Samsung is still making tweaks to the software to ensure a smooth experience. The OS can intelligently devote resources as well. With a new game mode, you can get better performance when playing Fortnite on mobile or other high task options.
The camera setup looks familiar on both of these phones. The back features three lenses stacked vertically, a design similar to that of the iPhone XS or XS Max. A 16-megapixel ultra-wide, a 12-megapixel wide-angle and a 12-megapixel telephoto are onboard. This is the same setup as the S10 and S10+, so we' expect these to perform just as well. You also get Samsung's built-in night mode, which helps to get excellent shots in low light.

There are some new features in the video recording functionality, however. You can still record at up to UHD resolution, but you can now also create a bokeh effect with Live Focus Video (aka blurring out the background and keeping the focus on one person or item) and Zoom-In Mic creates the effect of a boom microphone for enhanced audio.

On the front, that Infinity-O pinhole holds a 10-megapixel autofocus lens with an 80-degree viewing angle. It should be great for capturing selfies and shots of more than one person. Both the front and back cameras can handle portrait mode as well.
AR Doodle is an interesting new software feature that works on both cameras. You can draw objects (like a funny hat or a mustache) and snap it to a face or body in a photo. You can also add Doodles to video.

Large batteries and ultra-fast charging

Samsung has come a long way with battery tech and a lot is going on with the Note 10 and 10+. Respectively you get a 3,500mAh or 4,300mAh battery inside, and with Samsung's intelligent battery controlling software, that should be enough fora full day of use.

Another bit of really cool news is that both the Note 10 and 10+ support fast charging both wirelessly or with a cord. In the box, you'll get a 25-watt fast charger, and you can upgrade to a 45-watt with the Note 10+. This is pretty impressive and should deliver ultra-fast charging, nearly filling the battery all the way in about 30-minutes.

Lastly, but certainly not least, Wireless Power Share is back. Yes, the technology that reverses the wireless charging coils on the back and enables you to charge other Qi-enabled devices on the back. Just don't expect that to be the fastest experience.

Bye-bye audio jack

Yes, you read that right. The Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ are one port devices, with a USB-C port on the bottom and no headphone jack. Samsung was one of the last big OEMs to keep this wired listening port, and while the S10 family still has it, the Note line no longer does. You will get a pair of USB-C earbuds in the box, and of course, Samsung makes Galaxy Buds.

Final thoughts from first impressions

The sleek aluminum and glass design not only comes in fun colors and is IP68 (water and dust resistant) rated, but it contains a powerhouse of hardware. The octa-core processor with either 8GB or 12GBs of RAM will provide a zippy experience on the One UI, which provides a lighter experience with plenty of customization options.

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Meet the new Galaxy Note10+

Samsung’s newest and most powerful smartphone for 2019 has just been unveiled – the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ and Note10+ 5G combine the latest technology and innovations into a sleek handset with a gorgeous design.

 The Galaxy Note10 brings together the best of Samsung’s design expertise and cutting-edge tech to create the most impressive smartphone we’ve seen all year, with a new super-fast processor and a long list of user-friendly features.
Built around a 6.8-inch Cinematic Infinity-O display that covers nearly the entire front of the device, the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ is a sight to behold. Like every other Note from Samsung, too, the Galaxy Note10+ hides away an intelligent S Pen stylus in its body – and this year, the S Pen is smarter than ever. It’ll respond to your gestures with Air Actions; even when your phone is not in your hands, you can take selfies or videos or control your music or video playback.
The Galaxy Note10+ includes a full kit of lenses on its rear camera – zoom, wide, ultra-wide, and a 3D depth sensor that maps the scene in front of you to accurately blur out the background naturally in your photos, so you can shoot like a pro without being a pro. The Note10+’s front camera is integrated into its Cinematic Infinity-O display, helping it stretch from corner to corner.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note phones are known for their exceptional battery life, and the new Note 10+ is no different. The new phone has a 4300mAh (typical) long-lasting battery*, which should make for all-day power for your tapping and snapping and swiping, but even more impressive is the Galaxy Note 10+’s 45W Super-Fast Charging 2.0 capability**. With a compatible fast charger, you’ll be back at full battery faster than ever. The Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G is available with 5G – which means downloading and streaming at fast speeds

Get the Samsung Galaxy 10+ with ThePLAN @GLOBE