“On the Come Up” Directed by Sanaa Lathan – Movie Review

By: Angie Haddock

I just read this book a few months ago, and sat down to write my review the same day the movie came out!

The movie gets right into the grit of the story, showing flashbacks of Jay leaving her kids before we really even see where they are now. The first thing that struck me as “different than I pictured” was the ring, though… in that all the rap battles there are done a cappella, and not with beats behind them. A minor thing, for sure, and nothing to sweat.

As it went on I found that, in streamlining the story to fit into two hours, the movie cut out a whole slew of characters: Bri’s grandparents, and any of the scenes at church are gone. So is Curtis, the boy she befriends there. Malik and Trey’s girlfriends are also missing, and Bri and Malik become romantically involved instead.

This brings me to another major change: instead of cutting her first track with Pooh’s friend, movie Bri – along with Sonny and Malik – are all flown down to Atlanta on Supreme’s dime for her to record. This section, around the middle of the movie, gets a little more “Pretty Woman” than anything we saw in the book. Supreme gets Bri new clothes, everyone goes clubbing. This is where Bri and Malik become involved, and also where Milez and Sonny become involved. (In the book, they met online first, and Sonny didn’t know it was Milez.) So this section brings some of the biggest deviations from the book.

Plenty of other important plot points remain the same, though, and overall the movie was pretty good. I liked the casting. Bri seemed almost too innocent, but that worked toward the end when her mom was trying to make a point to the school board that she was “still a kid.” It felt right to have the likes of Sanaa Lathan, Mike Epps, and Method Man as the grown-ups in the movie. I wasn’t familiar with Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who played Aunt Pooh, but she was perfect. (Looks like she’s a Broadway vet.)

This one is streaming on Paramount+, if you are interested in watching it.

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“Jane Eyre” Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga – Movie Review

By: Angie Haddock

I read this book over the summer, and decided to check out at least one movie version of it to compare. This one was one of the more recent adaptations, and, bonus: it has Michael Fassbender in it.

The movie opens with Jane running into the wilderness and getting lost. She is eventually rescued by a man, whose two sisters help nurse her back to health. Of course, this really takes place about 60% into the book version. The movie goes back and forth, between what we’ll call the “present” (her time with the Rivers family) and the “past” – including her early childhood, time at boarding school, and time at Thornfield Hall. The book is told in a more linear manner, but the back and forth is pretty common in modern books and movies alike, and I didn’t feel like it was hard to follow. Just different (from the book).

Another difference I noticed near the beginning was that her time at boarding school was presented as being very bleak and abusive. As I had stated in my book review, it does start out looking like it might go that way, but her time there gets better. She finds teachers she connects with, and actually thrives there. But in this version, we only see the bleak parts.

Of course, the main action takes place after she gets to Thornfield, where she is a governess for Adele, and meets the master of the house, Mr. Rochester. Naturally, the actions throughout these parts are all condensed, but they are otherwise very true to the book. For example, there is really only one scene with the Ingrams and the other party guests… whereas in the book, they stay at Thornfield for a month. But in that scene we learn what’s important to know about any supposed engagement between Blanche Ingram and Mr. Rochester, and then we move on.

With the constant back and forth, I feel like we see Mr. Rivers almost as much as Mr. Rochester in this version. I almost thought we’d get away without seeing his most cringey moment – him insisting that Jane marry him in order to travel with him – but it does happen with about 10 minutes of the movie left. Ah, so close.

I did like the casting here. Jane is only 19 when she leaves boarding school, so maybe 20 or 21 by the end of the story. Main star Mia Wasikowska was only 22 when this movie was released, and Michael Fassbender (as Rochester) is 12 years her senior. The members of the Rivers family looked as young as Wasikowska, too. So they seemed to avoid middle aged people playing younger, and actually had a cast that was age-appropriate. Add in Dame Judi Dench as Thornfield’s housekeeper, Mrs. Fairfax… and what is there not to like?!

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