Updated: May 11, 2020
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
Queen (newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith) & Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) both British actors - are on the run with a vintage Pontiac, after being pulled over for a late-night minor traffic infraction in Ohio that goes bad. The police dashcam video goes viral and the couple unwittingly becomes “the black Bonnie and Clyde.”
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“QUEEN & SLIM”
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy, 2019, R for violence, some strong sexuality, nudity, pervasive language, and brief drug use; Streaming via Amazon Prime Video, Apple (4K), FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: “A Deeper Meaning”
In their own words from “A Deeper Meaning” - Writer/producer Lena Waithe, producer/director Melina Matsoukas, producer Michelle Knudsen and actors Jodie Turner-Smith and Actor Daniel Kaluuya.
Producer/director Melina Matsoukas - “Together we are Melina and Lena.”
Writer/producer Lena Waithe - “Yes, we are. “Queen & Slim” is our first Melina and Lena joint. There’s a thing about names in this movie. I don’t give a lot of characters names. It’s also the space that I’m in at this moment as a creator and a writer.”
“I wanted people to get to know the characters as themselves rather than focusing on what their names were. I decided to call her Queen because I think black women are queens, royalty. I can’t think of a more appropriate thing to call a black woman.”
“Slim was sort of born out of an affectionate term that black men will call each other. It’s a throwback a way that sometimes black men referred to each other: “What’s up, Slim? What’s going on, Slim?” Whether the person was slim or not. The reason why you don’t learn their names until after they’re killed is because that’s how we came to know Trayvon Martin’s name, that’s how we came to know Emmett Till’s name, Sandra Bland’s name, Mike Brown’s name, Eric Garner’s name.”
“I wouldn’t know their names had their lives not been taken prematurely. And so that is why you don’t know these characters’ names until the news reports, when their deaths are reported.”
(1) It started as a simple date app meeting at a local diner between the young professional attorney and the Costco employee. (2-4) During the drive home, the car wobbles while changing music on his phone. An aggressive white police officer played by country singer Sturgill Simpson spots the action and assumes a possible DUI and more.
(1-3) A lethal encounter and two gunshots.
Matsoukas - “The end of the show they actually don’t die, that their legacy lives on, and they’re meant to represent all the black people who have been killed by police brutality and how we have to continue saying their names. They represent those soldiers fighting that war that they didn’t realize they were fighting, and Queen and Slim are all of those people. By remembering all of those people their legacy does live on.”
Waithe - “A big thing for me with the characters and developing them, my north star were Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, and that she was Malcolm X and Slim was Martin Luther King, and by the end of the movie they switch places.”
Matsoukas - He’s really religious. He’s a man that’s very satisfied in just being normal and loving his family. And she is the opposite. She has really high ambition. She didn’t have that family as a foundation, so she’s used education to get ahead in life. And she’s cold.”
Actress Jodie Turner-Smith - “This is a woman who has completely taken her life into her own hands… and holds the lives of other people in her hands in the work she’s chosen to do as a lawyer, as a defender. So surrendering to some else is something that is not really in her wheelhouse.”
Producer Michelle Knudsen - “She hasn’t thought much about love or that she’s looking for that. Her eye is on the horizon, looking for bigger things.”
(1) Heading toward New Orleans, a convenience store clerk asks to hold the gun Slim picked up during the violent exchange with the Cleveland police officer. (2) Queen and Slim arrive at her uncle's place in the Cresent City. The uncle and two of his lovers feed the hungry couple. (3) Trying to get some sleep before the authorities come knocking. (4) They torch one of the getaway vehicles.
Waithe - “Slim is an everyman. He works at Costco. He’s very family-oriented. His mark on the world is the family that he would create with someone. That’s, to him, what legacy is really about – what exists in your backyard versus what you can do for millions of people.”
Knudsen - “Slim is thrown into dealing with things not only outside of his control but things that are bigger national issues than he’s ever spent time contemplating. He has to develop an opinion, a perspective on this, and you see him grow as well.”
Waithe - “Him being hardened by having to kill a police officer in self-defense. Not that he’s unaware of the racial tensions in the world, but he’s never been that confronted with them. So it affects the way he looks at the world. It affects his ideology about life, and he starts to realize toward the end of the movie that he has left a mark on the world just by trying to save his own life.”
Actor Daniel Kaluuya - “They assume that they can’t articulate their psyche and their fears and their doubts and their guilt because the fear they’d be judged. And, Slim allows her the space to do that, which is the, I think, foundation of a lot of great relationships.”
Matsoukas - “She starts to trust him. He starts to make decisions she respects. She starts to open up about who she is. She becomes more religious not even religious, but spiritual. She prays toward the end. You really see that effect.”
(1) Heading toward Florida in Queen's uncles 1970s Bonneville. (2) A stop at a local black bar for a dance with some downhome blues music. (3) A quick break with some horses. (4-5) A teenager makes a photograph of Queen and Slim as the strobe lights up the scene.
Director Melina Matsoukas has spent most of her career filming music videos (Beyoncé's flammable “Formation”), but for her feature debut, the drama was captured on old-school 35mm film with cinematographer Tat Radcliffe. Sadly the high-resolution film stock was mastered in 2K, but still features a striking cinematic experience with excellent detail, natural film grain, and a rich color palette. The HDR10 toning extracts a much deeper and darker level during the nighttime scenes and the dimly lit bar where the couple has a beautiful dance.
The 4K features a bold and smooth Dolby Atmos soundtrack with plenty of atmospheric sounds to the height speakers during the bar scene and sprinkles of Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange) score. The driving hip-hop sounds from Megan Three Stallion, Lil Baby and Coast Contra & BJ The Chicago Kid will get your subwoofer kicking, while the soulful tracks are nicely balanced with: “Collide” by Tina Major9 & EARTHGANG, “Soul Sista” by Bilal & Raphael Saadiq, “Getting Late” by SYD and the closing tune “Guarding the Gates” by Ms. Lauryn Hill.
“I really wanted to tell a story about two very different black people who are forced to be in a car together, who ultimately fall in love, and who the outside world will create their own story and mythology around.” - Producer/director Melina Matsoukas
(1) A side trip to visit Queen's mother's gravesite. (2) The outlaws are now lovers. (3&4) The final miles and encounter with authorities.