Viewing entries in
Film & TV

The Last Star Wars Movie I Will Ever Watch

The Last Star Wars Movie I Will Ever Watch

I must start this spoiler-free review by saying: I refuse to grow old and die watching Star Wars. With that said, I must note that The Last Jedi exceeds expectations and should be watched in your finest pair of stretchy pants because it’s a physical, emotional and mental work out.

The Best New Shows to Binge Watch During the Holiday Break

The Best New Shows to Binge Watch During the Holiday Break

For those of you blessed with time off during the holidays or at least less demanding workloads, here are some of the most epic new shows to watch over Christmas break to avoid awkward conversations with relatives you barely like but have to claim to love.

BLERDing Out at the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts Exhibit

BLERDing Out at the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts Exhibit

I am of house gryffindor, the unofficial sorting hat at the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts Exhibit in Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood confirmed my suspicions, I'm awesome. You can't tell me nothing for the next 24 hours. I AM GRYFFINDOR, chicks like me do great things.

The Importance of Woke Dialouge

The Importance of Woke Dialouge

Being in the room with a renowned thought leader left me feeling inspired and equipped to have the same conversations in everyday life.

Beyoncé Made Me Think: How lucky am I to be born a black woman!

Beyoncé Made Me Think: How lucky am I to be born a black woman!

“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman”

They want everything about black women, but black women.  That is our truth. These are the things we whisper in to each other in hair salons, in our secret spaces that are just our own.

Love, Rosie - I Hate This Book With My Entire Effing Heart

Love, Rosie - I Hate This Book With My Entire Effing Heart

 Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 12.11.46 AM

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 12.11.46 AM

I started reading Love, Rosie; a book recently adapted into a film with Hunger Games Bae, Sam Caflin, as the male protagonist. It's a love story about Rosie and Alex, kindergarten BFF's turned untimely adult almost lovers (a million times over). It's a depressingly drawn out narrative communicated in letters, texts, and emails.

Half-way through the book, when the characters have gone from seven to thirty and they miss yet another chance at love, I think "Hell, this crap aint even close to done!".

I quickly Googled a spoiler filled review, only to find out that they are grandparents before they are successful in love!

NOOOOOOOO!

I can't.

That is unacceptable.

When I read a love story, I like the occasional obstacle (or  Atonement like obstacles, which are literary awesomeness), I don't want to experience soap opera level barries to joy, ones that could go on for decades.

Eff this book. I a sticking to my predictable, mindless, young adult love stories!

I am leaving this on my Goodread's currently reading shelf in perpetuity.

Why You Should Watch The Walking Dead

 Rick Glenn Judith The Walking Dead

Rick Glenn Judith The Walking Dead

Why aren’t you watching The Walking Dead? Let me ask again, why aren’t you watching The Walking Dead! If you’re a TV watcher, heck if you’re a consumer of awesome media in any form -- books or radio, your ass (forgive my language) should be watching The Walking Dead! Based on the comic book series by the same name, The Walking Dead (TWD) is at the highest tiers of quality TV or film for that matter. When you experience (you can’t just watch) an episode, you live it. TWD doesn’t feel manufactured; it doesn’t seem like actors surviving in a faux post-apocalyptic reality. The writing is pure, the delivery is authentic and the acting is superb.

 The Walking Dead Cast

The Walking Dead Cast

Sometime in the past, maybe during season 3, my love for the show was etched into the finest of stone. TWD is a show that can be enjoyed by Sci-fi aficionados, those whose tastes may have been refined by reading Frank Herbert’s Dune or watching BattleStar Galactica (2.0), and casual observers who might enjoy the Hunger Games series and an occasional episode of Orphan Black. But The Walking Dead is epic television happening RIGHT NOW, so if your not watching, you maybe literally missing out on participating in history.

The show’s consistent praises from both the populous and the professional TV/Film industry, as well as its massive and growing audience is only some evidence of why TWD is great television. It’s a show that isn’t afraid of diversity, from ethnicity to identity, it’s a show with characters anybody could relate to!

 Alanna Masterson The Walking Dead

Alanna Masterson The Walking Dead

Zombies freak me out to my core and I too turn my nose up at gore for gore’s sake. You abhor gore – you avoid scary shows! Again, I do too, but in stark and overwhelming contrast: I love the well written characters, am a sucker for precise story-lines that aren’t afraid to evolve, and I am willing to pay money (per episode to Amazon.com) for clear, authentic, and often unpredictable writing. Somehow an entire show built on the premise of the world being destroyed by a zombie virus became so much more. Instead, it matured into a thoughtful analysis of what it is to lead, to survive, to endure, to love, to be loved, and ultimately to be human and not the walking dead.

One bored summer I started Season1/Episode1 of The Walking Dead to fill a void left by my inability to decide on a good book to read, four years later I await each episode with anticipation, watch each episode with a buzz of exhilaration, and leave each episode with a sense of awe and an unquenched thirst for more. That, in a nutshell, is The Walking Dead and you should partake in it!

Interstellar is the BEST Book I NEVER Read

tumblr_ncaw14BqQr1qzdglao1_500Interstellar by Laura Racero (thanks Tumblr) The current time is 12:02 AM PST; I just left the 8:00 PM IMAX showing of Interstellar. It was super awesome.

It was super-duper awesome.

And without giving anything of substance away from the film, here is my no-spoilers review:

It hit me like a high-level spiritual epiphany, why the "SYFY" channel now sucks, the fallacy of dropping out of A.P. Physics my senior year of high school, and why Matthew McConaughey is an employed award-winning actor (a mystery that required solving for my own sanity). Interstellar brought that human component back to science fiction, that thing that made you love the stories, that enabled you to see yourself in the improbable situation of the protagonist and live it alongside them. A really great science fiction story is not meant to be consumed like a really terrible film about robots nearly destroying the world again and again, but experienced like those precious moments when you first read (Frank) Herbert or (Ray) Bradbury. Great science fiction should launch curiosity and in some cases a passion for the sciences that could lead real discovery and invention.

Interstellar was like the best book I never read as an awkward boyfriend-less teenager with strict Caribbean parents. Back when my entire life was centered around passing my honors classes, watching historical documentaries, reading science fiction novels, and renting 5 old movies for $5 for 5 days at a sketch non-chain video store.

Whoever wrote interstellar needs to be my best friend, we need to frolic in each other's mind, record the interaction and give each other high fives!

I need a secret fifth dimensional bookcase to my senior year of high school self to say: "hey girl, I know A.P. physics is hard as hell, and you are tired because you are working 30 hours a week at the Dairy Queen to help pay for college, but stay in that sh*t because you have a passion for it and unnatural understanding of the abstract sciences".

In conclusion, Interstellar rocked my socks, and for those that may not enjoy the film, it will undoubtedly spark an entertaining dialogue (or battle of words) with friends about (the interpretation of) its contents.

(Shout-out to my P3 gang who showed up nearly 10 deep to watch it as a group mid-workweek)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Trailer

Snow & PeetaKatniss

 

 

 

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 trailer was released today and it exceeded my many expectations. The film choices that delineated from the original novel were spot on!  I imagined District 13 to be a little more plastic and fake like a utilitarian version of m the Capitol, but they went for a concrete the great thing did with this book was to try to capture the war, the narrative of battle, the narrative of loss, and you understand it more clearly in the films! I'm really excited for the third and fourth films in this franchise; the caliber of directors, actors, and overall production is so impressive and exceeds almost every other young adult novel to film adaptation!  This trailer gave me life, I am so excited for this film!

Side note:Snow & KAtniss

 

Something interesting delineation from the book and insights from the trailer:

1. Katniss having a direct conversation with Snow: In the novels Katniss and President Snow only communicate through the propaganda commercials.

2. Effie Trinket in District 13: Effie Trinket was missing for almost all of the third novel, then shows up at the very end with some sentence indicating she was Snow's prisoner. Effie became more alive in the films so I am excited t see what having her in district 13 will bring!

3. The Mockingjay outfit: They actually made the outfit more like a useful battle garment, which is not what I imagined Cinna.

4. The relationship between Finnick and Katniss: My favorite parts of the book were when this kind of Playboy Finnick became a real person and a real confidant for Katniss so much so that even our precious Gale is jealous of him.

5. Gale and Katniss: Something that really stuck to me while watching this trailer is the fact of Gale and Katniss have this very intense and intertwined history and present together: they survive starvation as children, Gail takes on the task of caring for her family in the event she didn't  return from the arena, and they are comrades in war! To think about where this relationship leads and that they may spend their adulthood strangers saddens me.

How Dare you Die Lauren Bacall!

Lauren Bacall dared to climb out of the glass case of my imagaination, gracefully age, and die. How dare she die, HOW DARE SHE! If you don't know who LB was, you like your films disgustingly modern. Find out who she was, watch How to Marry a Millionaire five times, and then we can be fictitious interweb friends!

Soak in her classic perfection!

Lauren Becall

 

Brown Girls in Ballet

TotBallet The husband and I spent Saturday morning hauling the kids to first-time classes in Southern California. My daughter had an early morning ballet class and both our kiddies went to an afternoon gymnastics class. Because of the demographic of the city we live in (Less than 2% Black), my daughter is truly the minority. That, in general, does not bother me. I want my daughter to enjoy the diversity I experienced as a girl growing up in South Florida. But, that diversity included Asian, Hispanic AND a variety of people of African descent from the US, Caribbean and Europe.

I grew up with Black cheerleaders, academics, athletes and artists. Talent, beauty and identity came in a variety of shapes and sizes. Even with all of this, I had sometimes extreme self-image issues.

FunnyFaceBallet

Baby girl has brown parents, cousins, grandparents etc. She has a natural hair sporting mother who studied both Sociology and Africana studies and loves her skin so much that she wears make-up free of harmful chemicals and makes almost all of her skin care products. She has a father so altered by reading the The Souls of Black Folks that he jumps at the opportunity to discuss systemic discrimination and access inequality.

But today we came home and watched Dark Girls, a documentary exploring the deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color particularly dark skinned women and I became so aware of my daughter as a black girl. Aware that she could hate her physical self so much that  her spiritual and emotional self are compromised. Every day I pray and ponder the ways I must thoughtfully and consistently reinforce her inner and outer beauty as she progresses toward womanhood.

 

May Movieish: Maleficent

maleficent Checked out Maleficent, though framed as a children's film, the narrative is a must understand for adults:

  • When a person is violated and their trust shattered by a person they once consider dearest to them, there are multiple paths one can take.
  • When wealth and success are pursued at any cost, the cost could include the ability to enjoy the fruit of your labors.
  • Love, not just romantic love, but platonic love and friendship can shed a light on the darkest of pasts.

The themes of heartbreak, brokenness, vengeance, love and forgiveness were well portrayed in the film. Some of the violence  and character experiences might have been a bit much for the kiddies but it made great fodder for adult viewing. Overall it was a really good film with great acting and superb cinematography.

Bookish: May

IMG_20140526_122242 I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.” -- Sylvia Plath

May was "literarily" eventful, I read a total of 5 books:

  1. Divergent: A fairly mediocre YA novel, the plot did not seem cohesive enough for me.
  2. Insurgent: A filler novel of sorts that does have a slight twist but the lack of the customary cliche YA love triangle was missed.
  3. Allegiant: By this book I was belligerent, but I am impressed by Roth's balls to the wall fearlessness where character mortality is concerned.
  4. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book One): Really enabled me to fully keep track of all the characters on the HBO adaption. Great book, well written with an impressively intricate series of parallel subplots. George R. R. Martin is very talented. The thing is, the subsequent novels are encyclopedia sized and because I have a demanding career and life, I opted to read really detailed summaries for the subsequent books (my curiosity demanded it).
  5. The Fault in Our Stars: The book was EPIC! One of the best YA novels I have read thus far. The banter was snarky, intelligent and hilarious. The characters felt real and surreal all at once and I connected with them as soon as they were introduced. I would re-read this book in a heart beat!

May '14 selections were inspired by Books that became adapted visually for film and television.

I started reading Anna Karenina and The Rise of Superman (non-fiction) but these should be completed in June.

 

Lupita Nyong'o and the Brick Ceiling of Race

Lupita Nyong'o and the Brick Ceiling of Race

tumblr_n341yx8HYu1rhygq3o1_1280.jpg

I read this rather frustrating article on The Hollywood Report plotting the potential trajectory of Lupita's career and at best, her outlook is desperate and dismal. Why, because she has the misfortune of possessing a physical beauty that varies from that of the "classic" heroine. After Jennifer Lawrence's big award show wins the year prior, her career outlook was  filled with rainbows and unicorns, the same can't be said for the "unique" beauty Lupita Nyong'o.

Some of our most talented and passionate thespians of color may face a career brick ceiling unless some historical drama makes it impossible for a casting director to hire Meryl Streep or her younger counterpart, Jennifer Lawrence (who is on my top 20 list of favorite actresses), especially since black face is not an option. Meryl and J-Law are some of my favorite actresses, truly great at their trade, but skill and abilities matter not when you are African American or Asian. There must be some complicated industry research calculating each potential dollar lost when a brown face is chosen for a major role that isn't a stereotype or required for historical accuracy!

Most scripts and nearly every major book to film is viewed from one narrow ocular. From the first breath of a novel being considered for film adaption, everyone from Helen Mirren to Chloe Mortez will be considered before Angela Bassett or Amandla Stenberg

From a young age, we are fed what the model of beauty is, and the girl next door was defined by the Disney classics of old. With boxes filled with Cinderella, Ariel, Aurora, and Snow White. It is still rare to find Pocahontas, Jasmine or Mulan in a Disney box set. Why are women of African and Asian descent always left out of the proverbial selection box.

Religiously, I visit Lupita's IMDB page, waiting to see that next film in pre-production and every week I am disappointed. From her interviews I can tell the girl has an intellect that will allow her to understand the role no matter the complexity. From her Yale School of Drama resume, I can tell the girl has flexibility and untapped skills. From the many comments of her peers, I can tell she is a pleasure to work with. Yet, from the aforementioned THR article, there is no question that she will face many difficulties finding steady and rewarding acting roles? Why, because she is black? That folks, is beyond ridiculous.

Images are from here & here

Katniss Everdeen and Gender Roles in Relationships

Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson in Catching Fire. LionsGate

Much has been said, and rightly so, about Katniss Everdeen and the way she challenges a lot of traditional narratives about girls. She carries a bow, she fights, she kills, she survives, she's emotionally unavailable, she'd rather act than talk, and ... did we mention she kills?

But one of the most unusual things about Katniss isn't the way she defies typical gender roles for heroines, but the way Peeta, her arena partner and one of her two love interests, defies typical Hollywood versions of gender roles for boyfriends.

-What Really Makes Katniss Stand Out? Peeta, Her Movie Girlfriend

by Linda Holmes

Linda's article (quoted above) discussing one of the more often ignored, but nonetheless awesome parts of the Hunger Games franchise, the reversal of gender roles in love, is pretty awesome. I know what it is to be the Katniss of the relationship. I know what it is to be emotionally unavailable, a little cold and a bit hard to read because of my steadfast and singular focus. Oddly enough, I myself ended up with a real-life Peeta. It literally just hit me how many of the relationship nuances (sans the dystopian, post apocalyptic kiddie death-match)  I could draw from my relationship to that of Katniss and Peeta. But one thing I must say is:

As awesome as Katniss is for kicking those traditional video game and movie tropes (no self identity outside of the male lead, weak, requiring rescuing, hypersexualized , etc) in the butt, Peeta is equally as awesome for his dismantling of popular male tropes.

BTW: A million thank you's to TV Guide Network for tickets to the LA Red Carpet premier. I had a blast!