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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Jane the Virgin : TV Review

My timeline has been so full of love for the new CW fall show Jane the Virgin that I took some time on my off day last week to catch up on the show's first five eps to see if all the hype bestowed upon it by my Tweeples was well deserved.

I walked away hooked! Gina Rodriguez plays the titular character a virgin in her twenties who gets artificially inseminated by accident. Yes this premise sounds far fetched, but the cast and the writing makes this show one of the better series to premiere this Fall season. And I will go as far as saying I like it better than the much hyped How To Get Away With Murder, although I do watch that show as well. What sets this show apart is the cast, the writing, and the chemistry between the lead character and her two suitors (the fiancee and the millionaire whose baby she's carrying) both of whom are adorable and as the viewer one is torn as to who Jane should wind up with when the smoke clears. I am also impressed by the two actors who portray Jane's parents Andrea Navedo and Jaime Camil. Jaime's portrayal of Rogelio, the telenovela star who just found out about Jane is hilarious to say the least.

If you are not watching this show, my suggestion for you is to catch up on all the eps via the CW website before Monday's new episode.

Beyond the Lights: My Review

Great dramatic love stories with engaging leads of color are not always a quick sell in Hollywood, but they should be.  After seeing Gina Prince Bythewood’s Beyond the Lights today, might I suggest she be the go to writer/director if you want to tell this kind of tale right.  After impressing the hell out of critics and audiences with Love and Basketball, she followed up that film with The Secret Life of Bees, and now the wonderful Beyond the Lights, starring Gugu  Mbatha-Raw of Belle fame and Nate Parker who some say is the second coming of Denzel Washington.  Beyond the Lights has already been compared to the mega hits The Bodyguard and Mahogany, but it definitely can stand on its own. The story of Noni a pop star with an overt sexual image who just wants to sing and Kaz, the cop who saves her from a suicide attempt gets everything right from jump, and it doesn’t waste time getting the love story in motion.  The way Bythewood uses a flashback to set up the trajectory of a biracial child with an amazing voice who is virtually pushed into the limelight by a mother whose thirst for fame and riches outweighs thoughts of what's best for her daughter lets the movie goer in as to how modern day Noni eventually winds up in the place of despair Kaz finds her in.

As an aspiring screenwriter, I studied the pace of the script and can honestly say the other reason for my going to see this film was not only to be entertained, but to also adopt some of the methods that makes Gina’s films work so damn well. It’s not easy being a writer and revising a script can be tedious, but after learning Gina goes through over 50 rewrites , you won’t hear any more complaints from me. If Beyond the Lights many revisions resulted in what I saw today, then as one of the audience members that applauded the film as the credits rolled, Bythewood’s  revisions netted the result she was looking for.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Orange Is The New Black Season 2 Premiere: My Review

I've been waiting to go back to Litchfield Prison for months now.  After the first season of Orange Is The New Black ended with WASP turned inmate Piper Chapman beating the living ish out of meth head/religious fanatic/abortionist killer Pennsatucky, diehard fans of the show have been anxiously wondering what was going to happen to Piper post the epic beat down.

The first ep of season 2 (directed by the brilliant Jodie Foster)  answers all questions although with the exception of Alex, none of my other Litchfield favorites appeared on the episode. You do get to meet a new set of prisoners who are even more disgusting than any of the ones at Litchfield, but fortunately you don't have to deal with them too long. As it turns out Piper and Alex are only in this new prison to await the trial of the man they were running drugs for. Alex wants Piper to lie fearing for both of their lives if the truth comes out, but Piper balks at this and refuses to lie. Piper's change of heart during the 3rd act only winds up slapping her in the face when her lawyer, (her former fiancee Larry's dad) washes his hands of her and Alex's decision to do what Piper was initially adamant to do gets her out of jail and leaves Piper behind bars and hopefully on the first bus back to Litchfield.

Overall this ep was good. I enjoyed the childhood flashbacks to when Piper was a little girl and seeing  actress Lori Petty as Lolly, one of the new inmates. Petty is an actress from back in the day (A League of Their Own, Point Break) who I must say kinda scared me with how badly she's aged.  Nonetheless I'm back on the grind and getting ready to watch episode 2 and drink a couple of Strawberitas.

Later !

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mother of George: My Review

Danai Gurira is best known as the brooding samurai Michonne on AMC's The Walking Dead, but what a lot of people don't know is that she is also an award winning playwright and the star of the critically acclaimed independent feature Mother of George.

Mother of George (directed by Andrew Dosunmu) is the story of married couple Ayodele and Adenike whose infertility struggles lead Adenike down a path from which there is no return, thanks to an idea planted by an overly interfering mother in law.

The film started off slow but soon picked up especially when a plan for conception is broached by Ma Ayo which completely shocked me considering how extreme it was. For someone who considers herself a modern woman, I for one could not grasp how much nagging Adenike took from Ma Ayo in regards to her getting pregnant.  Someone like me (with all respect) would've told the old lady to kick rocks, but I guess things are different in Nigerian culture. Ayodele's attitude also left a lot to be desired considering his reluctance to see a fertility specialist. I mean what man would refuse his wife who was so obviously desperate at that point to have his kid, but I guess the Nigerian male ego is a lot more fragile than most.

The ensemble as a whole are all good, but Danai's performance showed that there's more to her than the sword wielding uber intense Michonne that we welcome into our homes every Sunday night. I'm looking forward to other outside projects from her.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Belle: My Review

When I first saw the trailer for Belle months ago I knew that it was a special film. Yes it still dealt with the issue of slavery, but this time it was on a different scale. Belle was based on the true story of mixed race Dido Elizabeth Belle, the love child of Sir John Lindsey and a slave woman by the name of Maria Belle. Dido goes to live with John's uncle,William Murray, the 1st Earl of Mansfield at Kenwood House and is raised as part of the family. Yes there are restrictions such as being hidden away when company comes over, but compared to most people of color in those days, Belle was quite fortunate.

I never knew Dido's story, but it made for an interesting and well acted film. Amma Asante and her leading lady Gugu Mbatha-Raw are causing quite a stir with this indie which is garnering major praise from critics and audiences. When I went to a screening of it at Tara Cinema here in Atlanta over Mother's Day weekend, the film received applause from the audience at the end which is proof that it's touching a chord with moviegoers from all demographics. One entertainment program even touted Gugu as a breakout star in the vein of Lupita Nyong'o, and Asante is definitely a director to keep an eye on. Female directors are already a rarity and female directors of color are even rarer.  If Asante's big screen debut is any indication, I am predicting that she should purchase a trophy case for the Oscars and Golden Globes that will one day be coming her way.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

People Votes Lupita Most Beautiful

This morning when it was revealed whom People Magazine chose as their Most Beautiful I had hoped that Lupita Nyong'o would be picked. I mean it's 2014 and to my knowledge a chocolate woman had never been chosen as the cover star for the yearly double issue that celebrates the most stunning women in entertainment. Yes I know Beyonce received the honor a few years back and is a woman of color, but she's not chocolate like Lupita and she certainly is not sporting the natural look like Lupita so effortlessly does.  I still could not wrap my head around People magazine being progressive enough to choose the Yale educated, Oscar winning actress, but I wasn't given them enough credit.

Kudos to People for recognizing black beauty in all its wonderful hues! And congrats to Lupita for representing us the way we are supposed to be represented (side eye to Mimi, Kenya, and Porsha)!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Christian Audiences Will Not Be Ignored

Easter weekend was a profitable one at the box office for the inspirational film Heaven Is For Real. I hadn't read the book on which the film is based, but I will say I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and will probably read the book eventually.

Heaven Is For Real is about a young boy named Colton Burpo who travels to heaven while undergoing emergency surgery. His account of heaven, the people he saw there, and what he saw on earth while he was there causes concern for his father and chaos in the church for which his father is the pastor. As it turns out a lot of people aren't as pleased about there being a heaven as one would think.

As a Christian, it is refreshing to see a movie that is for this demographic, that isn't corny or overly preachy. It's also nice to see that a film like this attracted the talents of Oscar nominees Greg Kinnear and Thomas Haden Church, and Emmy winner Margo Martindale

Hopefully Hollywood will continue to make films like this that inspire and are good enough for the whole family to appreciate.

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