Movies Out This Weekend: 'Wonka' And 'American Fiction'

HOLLYWOOD, CA — The seemingly disparate stories of a young man with nothing in his name but a sweet dream and an acclaimed novelist with little commercial success will grace the big screen this weekend.

Paul King’s fantasy film “Wonka,” a prequel to the 1971 classic cult, “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” stars Timothée Chalamet as a young, resolute Willy Wonka in pursuit of a dream to own a successful candy store.

Also in theaters is Cord Jefferson’s feature directorial debut, “American Fiction.” The satire movie stars Jeffrey Wright as a serious novelist who will have to navigate some unchartered waters in his struggling literary career.

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Check out what we thought of the two new releases below.

Movies Out This Weekend


Timothée Chalamet, Gustave Die, Hugh Grant; directed by Paul King

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“I’m making chocolate, of course. How do you like it? Dark? White? Nutty? Absolutely insane?”, quips a young man with an aspiration to conquer the confectionary world with his colorful chocolate concoctions.

That young man is none other than the undeterred Willy Wonka portrayed by Chalamet with much gusto.

King’s “Wonka, a prequel to the 1971 Gene Wilder classic hit, opens with musical strains of the unforgettable “Pure Imagination” from the original movie. After seven years on the high seas, Chalamet’s impecunious Wonka arrives by boat in a European city with nothing in his name but a big dream in his heart to open his chocolate shop at the world-renowned Galeries Gourmet.

Along the way, a parade of Who’s-Who of UK screen cinema make cameos, including “The Favourite” star Olivia Colman, “Downton Abbey” star Jim Carter and “Mr. Bean” star Rowan Atkinson. “The Shape of Water” star Sally Hawkins plays Wonka’s mom, while Grant serves up the conduit to the source material as an Oompa Loompa.

In time, the young chocolatier’s rare sweets will pique the town’s interest, as well as the Chocolate Cartel’s ire. It will not be long before the villainous cabal of businessmen led by Slugworth (Paterson Joseph) plots to thwart Wonka’s rise.

Can Wonka prevail in the wake of a seemingly insurmountable feat?

“Wonka” regales with a sugar-rush blend of whimsies, rousing music as well as Chalamet’s exuberance and charm — though it might be too sugary for some.

“American Fiction”

Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, John Ortiz; directed by Cord Jefferson

Jefferson’s feature directorial debut, “American Fiction,” a film adaptation of Percival Everett’s 2001 bestseller “Erasure,” follows Monk Ellison (Wright), a serious Black writer beset with the poor sales prospect of his new book. Apparently, in the literary world, he shines with critical acclaim, but struggles with little commercial success, so much so that his agent is having difficulty finding a publisher for his latest effort.

Can Monk possibly learn how to make his books more marketable, sellable, and palatable? Perhaps, a book convention could help shed some light on his losing streak.

Enter Sintara Golden (Issa Rae) in one such event. The young up-and-coming Black novelist is asked by the moderator to read an excerpt from her latest book, “We’s Lives in Da Ghetto.”

Sintara then proceeds, “Yo Shoranda! Girl, you be pregnant again!? If I is, Ray Ray’s gonna be real father this time around.”

Applause! Applause! Applause! Ladies in the audience give Sintara a standing ovation, much to Monk’s surprise and disbelief.

“Monk, your books are good, but they’re not popular,” quips Monk’s agent, Arthur (Ortiz). “Editors want a Black book,” adding, “You know what I mean.”

And so, begins Monk’s lucrative literary career with his next book titled, “My Pafology,” under a pseudonym, Stagg R. Leigh, who talks the talk and walks the walk of a “ghetto” life. Meanwhile, Monk returns to his childhood home, reuniting with his brother (Sterling K. Brown), his sister (Ross), and his ill mother (Leslie Uggams).

What ensues is a two-prong story: the jokester Stagg and the real privileged Monk.

With Jefferson’s nimbleness and adroitness behind the camera, the movie delivers a razor-sharp satirical tone that is equally insightful and hilarious to the core. A well-deserved applause for Wright’s magnificent performance! His command of his multifaceted role is awe-inspiring to watch.

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