Short Takes: “Roxanne Roxanne,” “Fun Mom Dinner,” & “Manifesto”

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sundance-short-takes-2Sundance

What Hidden Figures did for the untold story about the trailblazing women in NASA, ROXANNE ROXANNE does for the untold stories about the pioneering women of hip hop. Written and directed by Michael Larnell, Roxanne Roxanne stars breakout star Chanté Adams as Roxanne Shante (a.k.a. Lolita Shanté Gooden). Set in the ’80s, during the early days of rap, Shante was a rap prodigy, slaying other male rappers during street cyphers and being dubbed as “the champ” of New York’s Queensbridge projects. When she casually spits a few retaliation rhymes over the beat of U.T.F.O.’s single “Roxanne, Roxanne,” the track becomes an overnight hit, making her a prominent MC — but at 14 years old, she tries to balance being a regular teenager and a rap star. From family struggles to toxic relationships to being a lone female in the rape game, Roxanne Roxanne is a must-see story about one of the often overlooked figures in hip-hop (who, by the way, mentored Nas). Also starring the always radiant Nia Long and uber-talented and Oscar-nominated Mahershala Ali, the film is required viewing for hip-hop fans and those yearning for a new renaissance of female MCs — and this movie could very well start it.

At first glance, FUN MOM DINNER has the potential to be a redux of Bad Moms, but with more indie edge and flair. Written by Julie Rudd and directed by Alethea Jones, the cast is stacked with talent (Katie Aselton, Toni Collette, Bridget Everett, Molly Shannon, Adam Scott, Rob Huebel) that is sure to make this film crackle with comedy but instead, it was stale with a few laughs and premise that flatlined from the very beginning. Granted, Aselton, Collette, Everett, and Shannon tried their best to live up to the name of the title, but when a movie is set up to be a crazy romp of debauchery and non Mom-like behavior and the most dangerous thing they did was smoke pot, then more envelope pushing and risk is needed to make this legitimately fun. It should have been titled Mom Dinner with Some Mild Fun on the Side.

Let’s face it. Julian Rosefeldt’s MANIFESTO is not a movie. There is no narrative, character development, conflict, resolution or musical dance number. It’s a 94-minute art installation where Cate Blanchett plays 13 different characters — some odd, some normal, some uproariously bizarre — and acts out, or more specifically, recites manifestos from some of the most influential artists in history. Intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals will gobble this up (more so the latter) as Blanchett gives a master class of one-person performance art. It will make you think, laugh, and sometimes doze off — but none of that matters because Manifesto is just a friendly reminder that Blanchett can act the hell out of anything.


Dino watches too much TV, enjoys reality singing competitions and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
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