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Zendaya’s “Malcolm & Marie” – Review

by Betti Halsell

Malcolm & Marie speaks to the ‘authenticity’ of a young millennial couple in the entertainment industry, projecting their insecurities onto each other. The film follows the couple home after the big premiere of Malcolm’s (John David Washington) motion film. Although the film was heavily influenced by his girlfriend, Marie (Zendaya), Malcolm is reluctant to admit to her contribution, and so the war begins.

Marie’s mood is tense from the very beginning, setting the stage for an all-out verbal brawl. In the twilight hours of the night, they unpack layers of the truths between the two of them. Ultimately, it reflects the narcissism that lives in both of their narratives; a completely relatable tale for two artists in relations (who secretly are in competition). Additionally, the film gives an inside look at the entertainment industry from the artist’s perspective.

The project was shot in black and white with a grainy effect. If one didn’t pay attention to the modern style of the house, it could pass as a movie that was set in the 1970s. There were epic shots of the backyard, lights cascading through the trees, and shots taken through the window panels of the master bedroom. It gave the story tremendous depth and continued the silent dramatic aesthetic. It kept the air heavy around the couple, when they backed away into their corners, reloading verbal ammo for each other.

MALCOLM & MARIE (L-R): ZENDAYA as MARIE, JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON as MALCOLM. DOMINIC MILLER/NETFLIX © 2021

Marie, unable to see the bigger picture of what the night meant for Malcolm, pouts, and passive-aggressively makes her boyfriend macaroni and cheese. Malcolm, unable to read between the fine lines of his woman’s subtle frustrations, is still looking to celebrate until a fake smile slaps him into the reality that something is wrong.

There have been critics of Washington’s character being self-centered. However, it was his night, the night of his big premiere as an acknowledged director, and yet Marie made it about her. Throughout the romantic spat, Malcolm was trying to get past the issue, apologizing, and then genuinely apologizing, but after one resolved issue, Marie went on another rant, tearing him down as an artist. There is concern about credibility, Marie wanted acknowledgment for the lifetime contribution to his debuted film, she forced it out of him. The audience is left thinking… if the acknowledgment is forced, does it make it real?

The monologues shared between the two, were phenomenally written. Washington exerted so much raw energy–building the depth of his character. Malcolm was spewing endless amounts of knowledge about the film industry and what it means to be on the end of the critique, as the creator.

It’s interesting that Marie begins to look at her life and her role in the relationship, simultaneously as her partner begins to shine. There are jabs of jealously and envy as she spews out words of mediocracy and “character theft” when describing his film. Those are literal fighting words, and Malcolm came back with excruciating blows, boiling over to painting a world of hurt.

Everything is interrupted when the review comes back from the infamous L.A. Times critic, and Malcolm loses it, in the most beautiful way. He reveals his love for film as an artist, throwing names of legends in the film industry, stressing the lack of understanding from critics; they don’t share the same romanticism or devotion to films. This brings up a valid point; the perspective of critics is obviously skewed. They are based on their own perspective and knowledge of the subject, yet the words of these noted critiques hold threads of influence over the success of the production.

The featured film was first produced, written, financed, and shot during the fluctuating stages of COVID-19. It was filmed with discretion in June and July of 2020. Malcolm & Marie had a limited release day earlier in January before it was available on Netflix the following month. Producers of the film included Kid Cudi, Sam and Ashley Levison, Zendaya, and John David Washington. The cast and crew definitely redefined the world of drama from a new lens of the creators.

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‘Master’: Regina Hall Stars in New Horror Movie

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Master REGINA HALL

Determined to breathe new life into a centuries-old tradition, Gail soon finds herself wrapped up in the trials and tribulations of Jasmine Moore (Zoe Renee), an energetic and optimistic Black freshman. Jasmine’s time at Ancaster hits a snag early on when she’s assigned a dorm room that is rumored to be haunted. Things get worse when Jasmine clashes in the classroom with Liv Beckman (Amber Gray), a professor in the middle of her own racially charged tenure review. As Gail tries to maintain order and fulfill the duties of a Master, the cracks begin to show in Ancaster’s once-immaculate facade. After a career spent fighting to make it into Ancaster’s inner circle, Gail is confronted with the horrifying prospect of what lies beneath, her question ultimately becoming not whether the school is haunted but by whom.

Watch the trailer below.

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