• Strictly Films

Weekly Roundup 59: Inside the Mind of Kanye via Donda Mercedes Benz Superdome Listening Event.


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Welcome to another edition of Weekly Roundup! I tuned into the Kanye West live streaming session of his highly anticipated new album Donda. It was held in Atlanta, Georgia at the Mercedes Benz Superdome July 22nd, on a Thursday night. Fans were allowed to attend this event, as tickets were selling at $70+ a pop… You might think this is a total rip off, as why on earth would people come pay $70+ to hear an album knowing well they can check out at home for free?! If you know anything about Kanye and his album releases: No Date is for certain. Dedicated die hard fans of Kanye or music fans in general when given an opportunity, in which they’ll be guaranteed to listen to new music from YE on time… They’ll come, no matter if the price of admission is more than the price of a physical CD, Vinyl, or Digital Album combined. Plus: It’s more about the experience if anything. Like imagine telling your kids you got to go attend an exclusive listening event, held by arguably one of the greatest rappers, scratch that considerably one of the greatest artists of our time?!


Kanye tested the patience of his many fans, as he held this event at 8:00 P.M. but the delay lasted till I believe 9:45 P.M. For a good one hour and forty five minutes it was nothing but background stadium nose, as we’re shown a beaming light from the sky roof, followed by fans coming into the arena and onto their seats. The value of patience is important most def, in fact if society practiced patience to their daily routine… Progression can be more possible than ever. However understandable that those tuning into the event got a little impatient, plus fans could’ve potentially miss the listening to the work of art in it’s entirety since no time is for certain. Thankfully for me as I listened hoping the event would start: I had dinner so I was thankful for the delay.


With regards towards my opinion of the music I heard from the event, I wish to and certainly can not give my eternal opinion. With Kanye albums: You can’t make a confident take on his body of work after one listen, in fact many would argue you can’t make a confident take on his body of work in the year of release alone. Through the history of Kanye’s discography: The first reactions of the albums are fairly mixed and even start an uproar controversy regarding Kanye’s likeness to experiment with new styles and sounds. But with time, you can make a case that all of Kanye albums have aged well over the course of time. So it’s really not fair of me to give a complete analysis of the music I heard from the event, I got to give it more time and thoroughly listen to the body of work at hand.


For a brief opinion of the music I heard: It’s a typical Kanye album. It’s a body of work in which is going to get very mixed reactions from the public view, some will love, some will be indifferent with the body of work. From what I’ve heard the production is nothing but rock solid, lyric wise there are some powerful moments. The lyrics rapped/sung by Kanye or even the featured artists, will definitely hit home for most listeners, those whom are involved with religious ties or people immensely struggling mentally with regards of being alive or broken within a relationship. I will say from the opening song… I almost teared up, made me reminiscent the early days of depression for me. I’m not sure the music I heard is the entire album, there is one song missing from the Vegas listening session held back on Sunday July 18th that was posted on YouTube.


Critics and those on social media have come to heavily criticized the event in terms of quality of the experience. The music of course was received mixed, but as the event itself it was criticized as it was nothing but Kanye walking around the entire time, until he got amped up and dance at the very end. I know I’m going to sound goofy with what I thought the skeptical all meant, however I do believe what Kanye has done in that event meant something. During nights at home, I go to the living room, put my headphones on and play music. I jam out to the songs I’m playing, but there are times in which I play some songs, in which I consistently paced around the room.


When I do this: I think about life. I think about the past, joyous moments that make me happy or sometimes sad because I miss the people whom I enjoyed those moments dearly. I think about haunting/saddening moments of my past, trying to figure out what went wrong or what could’ve been done to prevent what has happened.


But I do think about the present especially. Within the present there are moments especially now in today’s troubled, chaotic, divided, and completely lost society. As the present troubles my soul deeply, you have so many thoughts going around your mind, contemplating on what to do moving forward?! Thoughts in which feel extremely powerful that though the majority can’t understand nor somehow agree with, you want to let it out as you feel it could inspire a better future going forward. During these nights listening to music and pacing, your thoughts want you to do so much more and speak out more on how you feel, but unfortunately those powerful thoughts have to stay locked because today’s society doesn’t understand nor accept people whom think differently. When the world only praises hate, negativity, darkness, and death… Any chance of delivering a mindset from love, peace, positivity, hope, and life gets turned away.


When watching Kanye pacing around in that stadium filled with people: That’s exactly what I took out of that. Kanye listening to his own music, pacing around the room as his mind contemplates about what he should say or do next. However, knowing society (People in Stands) in the background anticipating what he is bound to say or do next, he knows no matter what kind of comment or what he does, harsh judgement will follow if it doesn’t cater to their own point of view. So as Kanye thinks to himself, as he contemplates while the world anticipates his next move: Should I be Kanye or Should I be Calm-Ye?


For the last 17 or so years: Kanye West without a doubt has been one of the most authentic artists of our time. No matter how he expresses himself amongst the likes of others: He never has catered to anyone’s likeness, never has the need to feel like acceptance is a matter of importance, Kanye has always been Kanye while he progresses his journey in which we call Life, through the struggles and the triumphs of it all, he has never stopped being Ye. It’s been an honor and upmost privilege to have listened to your music, experience your creativeness, and experience a real person through fame/fortune. God Bless Mr. West, on that note… Time to talk about movies!


Penguin Bloom Grade: B

If you have always thought that having a bird as a pet is useless, Penguin Gloom will eat your own words on having this creature as a pet.

Penguin Bloom is a delightful, adorable, and inspiring tale of a woman encountering a terrible accident, finding triumph through her struggles all thanks to a supportive family but more so a broken feathered creature. Sam (Naomi Watts) was a mother and wife full of life, whom was extremely daring and loved exploring especially in the water. Unfortunately when an unexpected accident occurs as she becomes paralyzed from the waist down, she feels entirely empty and even more so doesn't feel she has much of a purpose. Her children brings in a bird whom is also broken, unable to fly which the bird can also relate with Sam as a bird that can't fly can feel useless.


The bondage between Sam and this bird was extremely adorable, as in a way these two triumph beyond their own struggles and find purpose once again. Solid performances all around by the entire cast, visually stunning film as well loved the ocean nature shots in this film. Penguin Bloom may not be a masterpiece, but it surely is a film that'll make you warm, fuzzy, and can uplift your spirit as well.


Overall, Penguin Bloom was a solid film. I recommend checking this one out, can be found on Netflix.


No Sudden Move Grade: B

Steven Soderbergh sixth film since post retirement, comes with a HBO Max original Crime/Drama/Mystery No Sudden Move.

No Sudden Move is a slowly paced yet effective dramatic crime film, that keeps you rather engaged from start to finish if you are willing to remain patient with it. Some elements within the story can be confusing some for audience, which can be understood considering how the film is slowly paced. However how everything unfolds towards the very end, can question if this ordeal was a setup all along. Won't spoil anything, but when the big reveal comes out and about at the very end, it can be considered a well crafted heist in a way.

Solid performances by the cast all around, including Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Brendan Fraser whom looks very unrecognizable in this role, and Julia Fox as well. Very unique characters as well, they don't appear to follow the same cliches and tropes like other characters done in the past with regards to stories like this. I like the style as well, felt like an ole fashion mob crime vibe, especially with the opening credit titles and all.

I wouldn't say No Sudden Move is on par with the likes of other Soderbergh films, but at least he's gotten back to a solid streak along with his last film Let Them All Talk.

Overall, No Sudden Move was a solid film. I recommend checking this one out, can be found on HBO Max.

Psycho Goreman Grade: B-

When you see the title Psycho Goreman, you instantly get the impression of how stupid the title sounds.

The phrase Don't Judge a Book by it's Cover, can go along with Don't Judge a Film by it's title as Psycho Goreman was surprisingly a fun time. Psycho Goreman was a plot that can feel entirely silly that can almost feel like a matured Power Rangers in a way, especially by the costume design. However this silly vibe somehow works extremely well, making it an effective horror/comedy film.

The comedic material was bit of a surprise for me, as I was finding myself laughing in several moments genuinely and unintentionally as well by the bizarre sequences in this film. When it comes to the children in this film, it's understandable how one might find them annoying especially our lead Nita-Josee Hanna playing Mimi. However I have to disagree as I found the child actors to be enjoyably awesome, it's been a wild since I've encountered a film that understands the minds and likes of children. The kids here were full of life, imagination, have so much charisma, I would have to say they were the most entertaining part of this entire film.

Of course my biggest complaint is sometimes the absurdity of this film can get a bit too much at certain moments. For an overall experience: This was actually fun, a major step up for Steven Kostanski from his previous film for sure, I believe he deserves a gig for a Power Rangers reboot over Seth Rogen.

Overall, Psycho Goreman was fairly decent. I recommend checking this one out. -Mitch Smietana

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