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|Index||14 reviews in total|
I want start out by saying that one of the things that I love about going to film festivals is that there are no trailers and you are really not sure what to expect when viewing a film. When it came to Luv, I was looking forward to seeing it because there was a lot of "star" power contributions involved. It made me realize that there are actors that are out there doing it for the money and then there are actors who are truly craftsmen, who do it for the art of performing. I am in awe of director Sheldon Candis for assembling such a powerhouse cast including Danny Glover, Dennis Haysbert, Charles S. Dutton and Lonette McKee. The film illustrated the relationship between Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.) and his uncle Vincent (Common) and takes the audience through one day in their lives. The film does a formidable job in demonstrating that no matter what you do or how much you may want to change, the past always has a way of catching up with you. The last time that I saw Common acting in a film was when he played Scott McKnight opposite Queen Latifah in Just Wright. I have to say that over the course of time and in the many films that Common has been in, his acting skills are improving as he diversifies his roles. Also, I have to give him props because he got involved in this independent film, so he obviously loves acting (maybe more than singing). The director stated that these actors basically did the job for a buck and a turkey sandwich (smile). Michael Rainey Jr. was brilliant as the thirteen year old nephew enlisted in tagging along with his uncle through the realities of a hard life in an urban environment. The youngster quickly learns that sometimes you have to do unconventional things in order to make it through life and that relationships have a way of changing over time. Woody eventually changes from a shy, studious and reluctant kid into a self-assured, confident young adult. All the lessons that Woody learns are not pleasant ones, but are necessary for life in the streets of Baltimore (or anywhere else for that matter). I think that this film is definitely worth seeing and may even give some young adults a much needed reality check. I am giving this film a green light.
The star power in this film immediately captured my attention. Scene upon scene brought a new recognizable well established actor on screen, which is so atypical when viewing Indie films. The film LUV is a fictionalized account of actual events that occurred in the writer director Sheldon Candis' life as he spent time with his uncle. I was fortunate in that the viewing of this film was a film festival DIFF 2012 at which Mr. Candis was in attendance and could provide some insight into how the story evolved, and his adventures in casting. I was very impressed with the screen presence of Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.), who coincidentally was similar enough in appearance that he could have been a child Sheldon. Ninety-five percent of the story takes place in the span of one 'training day', where Woody accompanies his Uncle Vincent (Common) as he conducts a day of business. The first thing that struck me as odd was the upscale automobile that Vincent was driving, and I immediately took some leaps and bounds to conclusions, oh and I jumped too. My assumptions turned out to be correct as the day progresses it evident that the lessons that are imparted onto young Woody will inevitably lead to a loss of innocence. The story was relatable because although the setting is Baltimore which I have never visited, the harsh reality of a relative passing down their knowledge is not always a legitimate vocation or trade. I was not surprised at how quickly Woody caught on to what was happening with Vincent's encounters, in some cases his realization was slightly out of sync with mine. My hoping that no harm would come to young Woody kept the level of intensity in this film high, because I knew how easily situation after situation could have gone wrong. I was completely emotionally invested in this film from the moment that Woody and Vincent began their day together. As more and more of Vincent's past became apparent so did the fact that Woody should be nowhere in the vicinity of this guy. There could have been a bit more character development for the roles played by Charles Dutton (Cofield), Danny Glover(Arthur), and Dennis Haysbert(Fish) and the ladies in the film Lonette McGee (Grandma Beanie)and Meagan Goode were little more than just fleeting images, but this was a good film none the less. I am in love with LUV and give it a green light.
There are some movies that come along and offer way more than they let
on. At the same time it becomes a bit of a concern when a film with a
great cast gets a smaller release because there are varying reasons on
why. The latest film to be something more than it lets on is Luv that
features a great cast including Common, Michael Rainey Jr, Dennis
Haysbert, Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Michael Kenneth Williams and
Meagan Good. Could this be a package to deliver a film fans will in
fact love or will it be obvious why it got a limited release?
Luv follows a young boy who spends the day with his recently paroled uncle who is trying to right his life, but along the way hits some violent unexpected snags. Now the young boy must follow in his uncle's footsteps of learn to be his own man. On the surface this film seemed like it was going to be just another forgettable drama with little to offer, but as it progressed it became so much more. While it could be viewed as just another drama about the seedy underworld, it is really about two people and their struggle to change their lives while finding their way alone, all while having each other. This film takes place over one day and delivers a really powerful message for both sides of the spectrum. One you have this young boy trying to grow to become a man, but are torn between the problems in his life and wanting to learn the things his uncle has to teach him. Then you have the uncle who is legitimately trying to clean up his act and teach his nephew how to be a man, but is pulled back into his old life as his past catches up to him. This cast is great and it is amazing to see this many great actors in an independent film. They all really poured themselves into their roles to bring these characters to life. Common has really grown as an actor and carries this movie like a pro. The rest of the cast mesh together nicely to deliver this powerful story.
There are some moments here that make you wonder why this kid is being dragged into all these situations, but as everything unfolds you realize it is part of what makes him grow as a man, whether they are good or bad. This was one of those movies that really delivered a surprising finished product to something that didn't offer a huge appeal other than the cast. It's these kinds of movies that remind you how to love film. It's not one of the best around, but there is passion and depth to this film filled with a cast that clearly did this for the love of the project and it shows in the finished product.
This movie blew me away. LUV was a really heavy movie that showed us how hard it is to be a kid without parents, growing up in a place like that. Throughout the whole movie i just couldn't help but feel so sorry for the kid, and i actually think that the actor really did the character well. I've seen a lot of bad reviews about the movie, and i personally think that's just critics looking at a from a very stupid perspective. I find it really hard to hate a movie like this, one that really makes you feel sorry for a kid in a situation like this. Both the main actors in this performed there parts perfectly i must add, i loved them both! Proof of how much i was amazed by this film, is that this is the first review of anything I've ever wrote. If this doesn't get any insane awards, it needs to be classified as one of the most underrated movies of 2013! 10/10 - amazing.
Artfully directed by Sheldon Candis," LUV" is a compelling, low-budget
tale of Vincent, a recently released convict who takes his young
nephew, Woody, on a day-long excursion through Baltimore to give him
lessons on how to survive in the urban jungle that is his home (Woody's
mother lives in North Carolina while his grandmother is currently
raising him in Maryland). This includes, among other things, teaching
him how to drive and how to shoot a gun. But the main focus is on
Vincent's attempts to go straight and to secure a loan for a restaurant
he wants to open. But the young man soon discovers that it isn't all
that easy to cut the ties with one's criminal past, and Woody bears
witness to some pretty horrendous events throughout the course of the
Taken as a whole, "LUV" is considerably less than the sum of its parts. The screenplay by Candis feels strangely doughy and underdeveloped, often leaving us bewildered as to what exactly Vincent is up to and who it is he's interacting with at any given moment. That being said, "LUV" manages to hold our interest due to the immediacy of its style and the naturalism of its performances. Common makes us care about Vincent; we see him as an ambitious young man who, despite his natural inclination towards crime - an inclination obviously resulting from the difficult circumstances in which he was raised - appears to be genuinely trying to turn his life around. That the world and his past seem to be conspiring against him is what makes the tale so poignant. Vincent may not be the perfect role model for his young nephew, but he is probably the best the boy is going to have for the foreseeable future.
But it is young Michael Rainey, Jr., in a star-making performance as Woody, who walks off with the film. Even at the tender young age of eleven, Rainey is already a natural in front of the camera and it is his wholly believable reactions to what is taking place around him that strike a responsive chord in the viewer. Indeed, we are willing to go on this structurally awkward and artistically uneven journey simply for the privilege of reveling in his performance. Rainey, in essence, becomes the thread holding all these seemingly random and arbitrary events together. One looks forward to great things from him in the future.
If you take off your in-denial, self-righteous moral lens about a black
movie actually shedding light on some of the problems that exist in
black America and the extent of diffusion of the drug trade into black
communities (even amongst the apparently upper-income, well-respected
entrepreneurial and educated class), you will realize that this was
simply a brilliant movie.
The story-line was engaging and paced just right. The casting was sublime and the actors were excellent, completely immersed in their various roles, and the moral of the story--that in the complexities of the social ills our society has imposed upon us, and particularly on black males, there are still jewels of goodness, and valid learning opportunities that help us grow, that can still grow young boys into good men. That good black men can emerge who choose right paths, despite the fact that segregation in the North and South path-dependently constrained opportunities for their male predecessors, and that family is our bond.
What a brilliant movie. Much better than those complex Woody Allen movies about much less substantive issues that get lauded with awards and good reviews.
Don't believe the biased, negative reviews. This is one of the best movies you will ever see. I promise.
Not that it would be useful information generally, but this kept me interested from beginning to end. I doubt that a big financial return was a factor in signing up the cast, it was probably a joy to have the chance to be in something like this. It made me think about how the kind of life on view perpetuates. I can see something like this going into the mix that shapes how I act and react. If there's a gun control group that screens or recommends films, this one would be on their list; a gun rights group, probably not. There are special features available here which highlight the respect the main players have for one another. Common and Michael Rainey Jr. are singled out in small separate pieces. I did not take the film as pure realism, still all hands brought the story vividly to life. Many including myself will be looking forward to future work from director Sheldon Candis, Michael and Common.
this is one of the better coming of age indies I have seen lately. it
made me laugh and cry and afraid.
Common is a powerhouse in the film, he's so commanding - not easy to do when acting opposite Dennis Haysbert (Mr. President/Snake Doctor himself).
and the boy, oh this little boy, Mr. Michael Rainey Jr. I doubt we will see the last of this amazing young thespian.
i highly recommend this film for a bitter taste of growing up in B-more. and of course we get to see cameo appearances by the great Charles S. Dutton - a strong advocate for Baltimore filming - as well as Danny Glover.
I really enjoyed this movie. I mean it doesn't give the typical vibe as
most movies do, some people might describe it as "incomplete" which is
fair, but it really fits this movie. A few things in the movie don't
"finish" as one could say, but in reality, this movie does not have a
happy ending. This movie is probably one of the saddest movie towards
It's basically about a former big time drug dealer, Vincent (played by Common), who gets out of prison after 8 years in a 20 year term - people have there suspicions, and it's been 8 years since he's been out there. During his time in prison, he planned the rest of his life out, he wanted to open up a restaurant and everything... live a life "not of crime". Only problem is he has another loan (or something) not paid off and he has to come up with 22 grand within a few days to get a new loan worth 150 grand to buy the land for his restaurant... But a lot of people on the streets wants him dead.
One day Vincent is driving Woody to school, they at the school and this girl who Woody likes is staring at him, but Woody is too shy to even get out the car and talk - he's embarrassed. So after a bit of sitting, Vince decides to take Woody out of school for the day, Woody is going to work with Vince... And throughout the next two days a lot happens.
I'm not to good at giving summaries that don't spoil the movie, but bare with me. The movie is great if you like sad movies. This movie does not have a happy ending and a lot of things mentioned in the movie are up for your "imagination" you could say... it's a cliff hanger ending.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Common, whose acting in the past I've not been a big fan of, is
excellent here as Vincent, just out of jail after serving an 8 year
stint, and now living with his mother and young nephew, in Baltimore,
Md. There's nothing new to the plot element that Vincent wants out of
the crime business, and has a dream of opening his own crab restaurant
offering entertainment on the Baltimore harbor. In order to accomplish
this he persuades his mother to allow him to take a mortgage loan out
on the house for start-up capital.
Vincent decides to let his nephew Woody, played by Michael Rainey Jr., see how a "man" operates and gets him some new clothes and takes him to the bank with him to apply for his loan. However, at the bank he learns there's a delinquent second mortgage on the property and that has to be paid off immediately or foreclosure proceedings will begin. Actually, this part of the movie made no sense to me since the amount of the loan would have been far sufficient to pay off this second mortgage.
Anyway, accepting that as the case, Vincent gets desperate and tracks down his old crime boss Fish, chillingly portrayed by Dennis Haysbert, and asks Fish to front him the money for the restaurant. Of course, as we all know things are not going to be that easy, and Fish coerces Vincent into doing one last job for him. As it turns out that job is highly dangerous, and may even be set-up hit on Vincent.
To be honest any film that has an adult knowingly placing a kid in harm's way, in this case Vincent allowing Woody to accompany him and even participate in dangerous drug deals, teaching him to shoot a gun and drink, as well as learn to drive way before his time, is usually a complete non-starter for me. However, for whatever reason despite this, I was intrigued and absorbed enough in this movie, to the point where I wanted to know how it would all end up. You can tell by my title here that it will all spiral down into a most violent and bleak conclusion.
As mentioned there's a top notch cast here. In addition to those mentioned, veteran screen notables Danny Glover and Charles S Dutton are very solid and believable in supporting roles. The film was directed by Sheldon Candis, who co-wrote the screenplay with Justin Wilson.
In summary, for those that won't be bothered by the gritty and grim theme here, there is some really good acting here and a rather absorbing plot.
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