A Look Back at SOMETHING NEW

It was Saturday night and I was seated for the 7:00 PM screening at Southpoint Cinema in Durham, NC.  Anticipation does not begin to explain what I was feeling. Something NewA few months earlier while seated for  Pride and Prejudice at the same theater, I watched the trailer of  Something New and was overcome with excitement.  Fast forward two months.  On opening night,  Friday, February 3, 2006, I received two separate calls from friends telling me I HAD to go see the movie. Now this would not have been a miraculous event had it been ANY other two friends, but these two generally agreed on very little. So I was immediately even more psyched to see Something New.

After I saw the movie, it instantly became one of my all time favorites. Aesthetically it is gorgeous. I think director Sanaa Hamri’s background in music video added an extra something to the visuals. And the table scene in the beginning, with the camera circling the table is AWESOME! You feel like you are in the middle of the women’s conversation.

The screenplay is something special. Writer Kriss Turner transforms the basic rom com  into a film that addresses issues of race and class in the context of a romantic relationship.  The premise is simple, but complicated. Sanaa Lathan plays Kenya, a black, professional woman who is very reserved. Brian, played by Simon Baker,  is a white gardener/landscape artist who is a free spirit. She doesn’t do dogs, he owns one. They are complete opposites. Something NEw 3

Something New effectively addresses the issues and adversities that a mixed race couple might face. I loved the “Black Tax” references, although honestly, I had never heard the term before (but was familiar with the concept). One of my favorite scenes occurs in the grocery store where Kenya wants to talk about her hard day and Brian isn’t in the mood for another race chat. The question of right and wrong is never debated, that’s your opinion, but the honest dialogue is refreshing.

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When Mark (Blair Underwood) enters the picture, he and Kenya look like the perfect couple. He understands her world, moreso than Brian. He is a much better fit, not because he is black, but because he is wealthy, educated and is a member of the  high society community Kenya is accustomed to. But he does not have her heart. And ultimately that’s the only thing that counts.

The only gripe I have about Something New is the limited amount of  screen time dedicated to  Kenya’s girlfriends played by Golden Brooks, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and Taraji P. Henson.  Although the opening  table scene was great, I would have liked more interaction with them. However, they did deliver some of the more comedic moments in the film.Something New Women

The flaws in Something New are overshadowed by what works in the film.   As the first major studio film directed, produced (Stephanie Allain), written by and starring women of color, I am proud of Something New. I am inspired by it and the work these amazing women put into making this historic film.  It is the epitome of Black Herstory.

Something New is currently streaming on Netflix.

#OscarsSoWhite + Writer Kirk Moore (#CinNoir Chat)

The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag which was created by April Reign last year resurfaced when the Academy Award nominees were announced and no people of color were nominated in the acting categories. On the latest #CinNoir chat, my co-host and I discussed the hashtag with April and chatted about the Oscar controversy.

#OscarsSoWhite

We also discussed Acedemy president Cheryl Boone Issac’s response to the public outcry for more diversity in the Academy.

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We also chatted with Kirk Moore, writer on the hit ABC series American Crime.

In case you missed it, here’s the recap:

My Movie Resolutions of 2016 (Cinema in Noir)

Resolutions are usually broken by February.  Last year, I posted an extensive and detailed 15 point list of my 2015 Movie Resolutions.  Honestly, I abandoned the list before February 1st.  This year, I vow to take a simpler approach to my movie resolutions. Below are my personal resolutions. It is my hope that these will make me a better movie watcher and a better movie blogger.

2016 Resolutions

Watch 365 New (to me) Films in 365 Days (#TeamNFOTD) – This is a yearly goal for me. I have not accomplished it yet, but I feel like this may be my year. 2016 resolutions

 

Watch more foreign films. I am especially interested in those that spotlight the black experience in other countries.
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Expand #BlackWomenDirect. It’s more than a hashtag, it’s a movement.
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Write and blog more. Self explanatory.
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Watch, support and share  more films directed by and/or written by women of color. Between this space here and Cinema in Noir on Blog Talk Radio, I hope to expland the conversation of women of color in film both in front of and behind the camera.

Team Cinema in Noir Resolutions

In case you missed it, on the latest edition of Cinema in Noir, my cohosts Candice, Rebecca and I discussed the film trends we want to see sustained over the course of 2016. We also gave our personal movie resolutions. Lastly, we discussed the 2016 Golden Globe nominees and our hopes for the winners.

LISTEN HERE:

#NFOTD2015 – A Year in Review

Happy New Year! As you all know, I have been participating in #NFOTD (New Film of the Day) for the past three years. For those who don’t know, NFOTD was started by film-lover and director of photography, Cybel Martin. Every day for the last year, #NFOTD2015 participants have watched a film that they have never seen before and tweet (and/or Instagram) about it. In 2015, I watched a grand total of 248 films (yes, a LOT less than the 300 plus I watched in 2014).

Every year, we post our #NFOTD superlatives, so here are mine for #NFOTD2015:

Favorite Theatrical Release: Creed

#NFOTD2015

DIrector: Ryan Coogler

Screenwriter: Ryan Coogler, Aaron Covington

CInematographer: Maryse Alberti

Starring: Michael B. Jordan Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson

 

Favorite Streaming/DVD selection:  Appropriate Behavior

#NFOTD2015Director: Desiree Akhavan

Screenwriter: Desiree Akhavan

CInematographer: Chris Teague

Starring: Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson, Scott Adsit

 

Favorite/Most Obscure: The Barber

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Director: Basel Owies

Screenwriter: Max Enscoe

Cinematographer: Allen Liu

Starring: Scott Glenn, Chris Coy

 

Favorite Documentary: Little White LieWL

Director: Lacey Schwartz, James Adolphus

Screenwriter: Lacey Schwartz, Mehret Mandefro

CInematographer: James Adolphus

Starring: Lacey Schwartz

 

Member’s Choice: Anita

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Director: Freida Lee Mock

Screenwriter: Freida Lee Mock

Starring: Anita Hill

 

BONUS SELECTIONS

Favorite Short Film: Muted

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Director: Rachel Goldberg

Screenwriter: Brandi Ford

Cinematographer: Richard J. Vialet

Starring: Chandra Wilson, Daniele Watts, Brandi Ford, Malcolm Jamal Warner

 

Favorite Made for TV Movie: With This Ring

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Director:  Nzingha Stewart

Screenwriter:  Nzingha Stewart

Starring: Regina Hall, Jill Scott, Eve, Brooklyn Sudano

 

Favorite Throwback Film: Rocky

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Director: John G. Avildsen

Screenwriter: Sylvester Stallone

Cinematographer: James Crabe

Starring: Sylvester Stallne, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith

 

Favorite Stand-Up/Comedy Special: Jay Pharoah, Can I Be Me?

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Director: Ryan Polito

Screenwriter: Jay Pharoah

Starring: Jay Pharoah

My Best of 2015 (And a Few I Saw So You Don’t Have To)

My best of 2015!!! On the last #CinNoir chat of 2015, my co-hosts and I listed our favorite films of the year.  In case you missed it, check it our here.

Here are my choices for the best of 2015:

  1. Advantageous

Best of 2015Hands down, one of the best of 2015. Great story, talented cast, people of color portrayed in the future; this sci-fi indie flick is awesome on many levels.Side note: We chatted with director Jennifer Phang this year. See what she said about the film here.

2.  Ayanda

Best f 2015

A vibrant coming of age story set in South Africa. Filmmaker Sara Blecher shows a side of South Africa that Americans rarely get to see on the big screen.

3.  A Ballerina’s Tale

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One of my favorite documentaries of the year.  The film follows the amazing career of ballerina Misty Copeland. Four reasons you NEED to see it here.

4. Brotherly Love

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A Romeo and Julietesque love story/crime drama.  The film is actor Cory Hardict’s best work in my opinion. Brotherly Love is suspenseful and has a great plot twist at the end. My #CinNoir review here.

5. Creed 

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The latest installment in the Rocky franchise, Creed is the boxing film for people who don’t like boxing films and for those who love them. The film boasts amazing performances from Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone and Tess Thompson.

6. Dope

Dope-movie-poster (1)Dope is a fresh look at the lives of  three black geeks who find themselves in a sticky situation when they are forced to become drug dealers. I love the film because of it’s exploration of the black nerd, a side of our culture we rarely get to see in the big screen. You can hear my #CinNoir review here.

7. Lila and Eve

Lila-and-Eve-MovieI had some reservations about this one but was pleasantly surprised. And the plot twist in the second half really elevated the film beyond my initial Lifetime movie label. Viola was great in the film and this is my favorite JLo performance in years.

8. Room 

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Rarely is the film adaptation of a story as good as the book.  But this is one of those exceptions. Brie Larson’s performance is pitch perfect.

9. Straight Outta Compton

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One of the top grossing films of the year, it chronicled the history of one of rap’s greatest groups. And despite a few flaws, the cast delivered amazing performances.

10. What Happened, Miss Simone

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My other favorite documentary of the year.  The film is great because it shows the trials and tribulations behind Nina’s genius.

Last, and MOST certainly, the least.  Here are my picks for the worst of 2015:

Paul Blart Mall Cop II – Self explanatory

Get Hard – Will Ferrel and Kevin Hart…what could go wrong? Everything.

The Man in Apartment 3 B – Think BET Arabesque film. Yep. For real.

Blackbird – I wanted to like this film. But it fell flat.

What films are on your best of list for 2015? Worst?

Seven Sistas of Film 2015

In my opinion,  2015 has been an underwhelming year for film.  Despite a bunch of mediocre movies, these women have given us some memorable performances. So with a few hours to spare, I give you my seven sistas of film 2015.  Enjoy!

Viola Davis as “Lila” in Lila and Eve

Seven SIstas of 2015 Viola Davis

Viola Davis never disappoints. In Lila and Eve she delivers another powerful performance as a mother dealing with the loss of her son. I mourned with Lila, felt her pain, and even rejoiced as she fough to regain her sense of self. Viola drew me in from beginning to end.

Jacqueline Kim as “Gwen” in Advantageous

Seven Sistas of Film 2015

In Advantageous, Jacqueline Kim portrays a mother desperate to do whatever it takes to provide for her daughter.   From the begining Jacqueline, as Gwen, exhibits a sense of urgency that is palpable and heartbreaking. She delivers an amazing performance.

Sanaa Lathan as “Leah” in The Perfect Guy

Seven Sistas of Film 2015

Sanaa Lathan is one of the few bright spots in The Perfect Guy. Despite a super predictable plot, she shines in the second half of the film when she transforms from Ms. Woe is Me to Ms. I Can Save My Damn Self and exhits the fierceness and fearless that she does so well.

Fulu Moguvhani as “Ayanda” in  Ayanda

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I was unfamiliar with  Fulu Moguvhani before I saw Ayanda. The South African actress  gives an amazing debut performance as a girl trying to find her niche while preserving the legacy of her father. Fulu exhibits the kind of scene stealing charisma that Hollywood careers are made of.

KeKe Palmer as “Jackie” in  Brotherly Love

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It has been really cool following Keke Palmer’s career as she transitioned from child actor to young adult. She holds her own as Jackie in the Romeo and Julietesque drama.  Keke displays a level of toughness and vulnerability that makes her performance ring true.

Teyonah Parris as “Lysistrata” in  Chi-raq

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So, I didn’t love Chi-raq. But I loved Teyonah Parris in Chi-raq (this makes sense). I have been a fan of Teyonnah since I saw her in last year’s Dear White People.  Just as Lysistrata carries the weight of Spike Lee’s Chicago on her back, Teyonnah carries the often heavy-handed Chi-raq with bravery, dedication, grace and believability.

Tessa Thompson as “Bianca” in Creed

Creed_2015-21Tessa Thompson is one of my favorites. In Creed, she  gives a great performance as Bianca, the love interest of Michael B. Jordan’s Donny. What I love is that she is more than “the girlfriend.” She has her own storyline and goals and Tessa infuses the character with a sense of realness that makes her three dimensional.

Who do you think gave a memorable performance this year?

Seven Sistas of Television 2015

I think we can all agree that 2015 has been a stellar year for television. And when it comes to quality roles for women of color, television is leading the charge in Hollywood. Choosing my favorite for the year was a pleasantly difficult task. But here they are, my seven sistas of television 2015. Enjoy!

Tichina Arnold as “Cassie” on Suvivor’s Remorse

Seven Sistas of Television 2015

I have been down with Tichina Arnold for almost 30 years!  Little Shop of Horrors is one of my favorite movies and one of the reasons I started this blog. This year Tichina killed it as the Calloway matriach. She is a comedy legend and I love the levity she brings to Survivor’s Remorse. Her shining moment?  The vaginal rejuvenation episode.

Sidenote: We interviewed Tichina this year on Cinema in Noir and it was AWESOME! Listen here.

Loretta Devine as “Cynthia ” on The Carmichael Show and “CeCe” on Being Mary Jane

seven sistas of television 2015

Loretta Divine is one of the most talented women in Hollywood. There isn’t much that she can not do.  This year we were lucky enough to witness Loretta in not one but two memorable roles.  This summer she proved to be the MVP of the NBC sitcom, The Carmichael Show. Loretta’s one liners made her stand out among that cast of comedians.
seven sistas of television 2015

For her role as CeCe on Being Mary Jane, Loretta flipped the script playing the pro-black, fedora wearing extortionist who blackmails her way into Mary Jane’s life. Loretta’s performance was definitely tweet-worthy. She stole every scene she was in.

Taraji P. Henson as “Cookie Lyons” on Empire

Taraji

So we can all agree that 2015 belonged to Taraji P. Henson, right? Her portrayal of Cookie Lyons garned her numerous award nominations, a gig hosting SNL, and USA Today’s honor as Entertainer of the Year. What I love most about Taraji is her commitment. Cookie is the most outrageous (and quotable) character on primetime. And Taraji always brings her A game.

Niecy Nash as “Didi Ortley” on Getting On and “Denise Hemphill” on Scream Queens

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Niecy Nash is one of the most underrated women in Hollywood. I too am guilty of not recognizing how amazingly talented she is.  I started watching Getting On when it premiered in 2013 and was pleasantly surprised by her performance. The dark comedy allows us to see a different side of Niecy. I appreciate her understated and compassionate performance.

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On the flip side, Niecy’s performace as Denise on Scream Queens is over-the-top. But the entire show is over-the-top, so it’s perfect.

Danielle Nicolet as “Jenna” on Born Again Virginbav_sneakpeek_ep111

I really enjoyed Danielle Nicolet on The Game so I was excited when it was announced that she was starring in her own series on TV One. As Jenna on Born Again Virgin, Danielle gives a convincing performance as a blogger abstaining from sex until she finds Mr. Right.  The tension created from trying to keep her promise to herself and her attraction to her neighbor allows Danielle to comedically and adorably manuever the trials of a single and celibate woman.

Lena Waithe as “Denise”on Master of None

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Master on None is one of the best new shows of 2015 and Lena Waithe is definitely one of the hightlights of the series. Denise  is the BFF we all wish we had.  She is the hilarious voice of reason that is the perfect foil to Dev. Lena is a natural and I can not wait to see more of her onscreen.

Kerry Washington as “Olivia Pope” on Scandal

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Olivia Pope is been through it all. And regardless of where you fall on the pro or anti Olitz spectrum, there is no denying that Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope is a compelling anti-hero. This season her performances have ranged from “she’s breaking my heart” to “WTF is she doing” and Kerry kills it every time.

Honorable Mention

The Wives of  Real Husbands of Hollywood (Nicole Ari Parker, Salli Richardson Whitfield, Eva Marcille, Holly Robinson Peete, Erica Ash and Nadine Velazquez)

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The Broadtalk episode of Real Husbands of Hollywood was the funniest of the season.  These women are funny individually. But all together, they created a magically hysterical episode.  These women flawlessly portray their characters and disply their comedic talents which rival the undeniable insanity that is Kevin Hart.

Who do you think gave a memorable performance this year?

The Force Awakens and #BestOf2015 (#CinNoir Chat)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a certified BLOCKBUSTER. During the latest Cinema in Noir chat, my co-host Rebecca reviewed The Force Awakens, a film that boasts one of the most diverse casts in the franchises history. And it seems that despite a few angry trolls, fans are responding to the film whose cast includes John Boyega and Lupita Nyong’o. So far the film has made over 200 million dollars.

The Force Awakens

We also discussed the hashtag #AAIronfist and the controversy surrounding Marvel only looking at white actors for the lead role in the upcoming Ironfist series. Finally, my co-hosts and I listed our favorite films of 2015.

In case you missed it, here is the recap:

ICYMI – #CinNoir Chat 11.22.2015

During the latest Cinema in Noir chat, my co-hosts and I discussed the controversy surrounding Th Hollywood Reporter’s Oscar roundtable cover featuring no actresses of color. We also discussed the Scandal winter finale. Also, my co-host  Rebecca reviewed Creed and the latest Netflix series, Jessica Jones.

In case you missed it, here is the recap: