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Donald Glover's Guava Island is Gorgeous Tropical Musical -- Yenni Gonzalez Pavon and Dania Rosa Santiago Madrigal - pan players in Guava Island

Esquire Magazine

The Childish Gambino film co-stars Rihanna and features a new "This is America" remix—and it

After mystery-steeped months of speculation, Donald Glover's film Guava Island debuted on Amazon Prime Saturday, where it will stream free for 18 hours after premiering at Coachella before Childish Gambino's headlining performance. While it’s slight for a film, featuring hardly enough story to support its 55-minute runtime, as a video concept album filled with both established hits and some catchy new tracks, it’s a breezy delight.

Billed as a "tropical thriller," the film was directed by Hiro Murai, who's worked with Glover on Atlanta, and written by the performers' brother, Stephen Glover. It tells the story of Deni, Guava Island’s most beloved musician. He's determined to throw a music festival and give a day off work to the oppressed laborers of the island, who toil endlessly for the authoritarian Red (Game of Thrones’s appropriately sly Nonso Anonzie). Glover's Deni dreams of writing a song "that would unite the people of the island, a song that would remind [them] of the magic Guava had." Rihanna co-stars as Deni’s longtime girlfriend Kofi, whose friend and confidante, Yara, is played by Black Panther’s Letitia Wright.

The film takes place in a paradisiacal nowhere; Guava Island itself is a West Indian pastiche. The movie was shot in Cuba, while Glover sings over both steel pan and bossa nova guitar, all the while slipping in and out of a slight but unplaceable accent. A handful of minor characters speak Spanish, while the Guyanese-British Letitia Wright sounds like an American and Rihanna speaks in her now-barely detectable Bajan twang. Though it’s not the first time the Caribbean has been deployed as a nebulous setting for American fantasy, the film pulls off its imprecision as it's essentially a fable, bracketed with story-telling narration from Rihanna, Edward Scissorhands-style.

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Did anyone watch this? What did you think?

Guava Island - Movie Review ( Rihanna and Donald Glover movie)

Well, I went and looked at the MOVIE on PRIME!!! (WHENSTEELTALKS does force me to listen to all kinda music and watch all kinda video and films and read all kinda articles. So I figured I might as well stay ON COURSE and watch the movie.)

26 minutes into the MOVIE we got a sparse sprinkling of PAN MUSIC (one of three indigenous instruments featured in the movie) strumming some chords.

The song that was sung in THE FESTIVAL was intriguing to me because it headed in the direction that I have been expecting TRINIDAD MUSIC PRODUCERS to follow. It had the rudiments that a good music producer could extract and modernize into a SOCA-INFLUENCED GLOBAL PRODUCTION.

I am a hard man to please with MOVIES and ACTING so under normal conditions I might have turned off the movie after I saw the PANS half way through. The acting was weak and the story-line lacked drama while the development mostly crawled. But since it was a short show I decided to sit through the final 24 minutes.

The last few minutes took us through a celebration (and I am not going to reveal the nature of the celebration because I don't want to be a SPOILER) but that celebration brought some credibility and further intrigue to me because it took me back to an experience that I had as a 9 year-old child. A simple realization about CULTURAL NORMS. Of course at that age I was only able to take note of and ponder upon.

So the movie left me with a GOOD FEELING and I am glad that I sat through the whole show.

But it is time for THE TRINIDAD PAN COMMUNITY (Local and Foreign) to start telling OUR OWN STORIES and showcasing THE PAN  with our OWN CREATIVITY instead of always having OTHERS present OUR INSTRUMENT to THE WORLD!!!

Very interesting review Claude. I too liked the movie because of childhood experiences. I was pleased that Danny Glover was able to to somewhat cohesively connect his past productions into a short film.. This is common practice in the music and film industry that has somehow almost always escape out folks because we are never the executive producers with decision making powers.


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