#BlackPantherSoLIT – #CinNoir Chat (ICYMI)

During the latest #CinNoir chat, my co-host Rebecca reviewed the film Captain America: Civil War. The film features Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther.  The character and casting news about the upcoming Black Panther movie inspired the hashtag #BlackPantherSoLIT. We discussed the casting and the popularity of the hashtag  with creator @ChadwickNChill.

#BlackPantherSoLIT

Lastly, in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, chatted about @StarringJohnCho, the hashtag and social movement dedicated to showing  the world “what it would look like if today’s Hollywood blockbusters cast an Asian-American actor as their leading man.”

In case you missed it, here is the recap:

Beyonce’s LEMONADE and the Black Feminist Film (Cinema In Noir)

LEMONADE, Beyonce’s recently released visual album and film almost broke the internet when it debuted on HBO on August 23. On the latest edition of Cinema in Noir, my co-hosts and I discussed LEMONADE,  it’s representations of black feminism, artistic celebrations of black women, and of course Becky with the good hair.  We also discussed other films and television shows that exemplify the black feminist tradition that LEMONADE follows (Eve’s Bayou, Something New, Living Single). Lemonade

May is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To commemorate the month, we discussed cinematic representations of illness and grief.  One of my faves is Ava DuVernay’s I WILL FOLLOW.  The film is an excellent meditation on grief for those left after someone passes. I highly recommend it. lemonade and grief

We also discussed one filmmaker in particular who seems to continuously miss the mark (#TylerPerryMovieCancer)

Also, in addition to the lastest film news, we discussed the recently released trailer to SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU, the film that reimagines Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date in Chicago back in 1989.  The film, which is directed by Richard Tanne, stars my fave Tika Sumpter and newcomer Parker Sawyers and is produced by John Legend. I  am SO excited about this film.  It got solid reviews at Sundance this year and I look forward to seeing the story on the big screen.  To quote my co-host Candice, SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU could be the blerd romance we’ve been waiting for.”  You  can check out the trailer here:

In case you missed the podcast, you can listen here:

Need to catch up on other episodes of Cinema in Noir? Catch up here, here, and here.

#ICYMI – CONFIMRATION and Whitewashing in GHOST IN THE SHELL (#CinNoir Chat)

During the latest #CinNoir chat, my co-hosts ad I reviewed and discussed several new releases. Among them was the HBO film Confirmation, based on the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court Confirmation hearing and the sexual harassment allegations that followed. The film starred Wendell Pierce as Thomas and my fave Kerry Washington as Anita Hill.

Confirmation

We also chatted about the whitewashing controversy surrounding the upcoming film Ghosts in the Shell as well as Islamaphobia in film and television.

In case you missed it, here is the recap:

ICYMI – #CinNoir Chat

During the latest #CinNoir chat, my co-hosts and I reviewed and discussed several new releases and premieres. One of my faves was Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill starring the incomparable Audra McDonald.

#CinNoir Chat
My co-host Candice also reviewed  Eclipsed on Broadway starring Lupita Nyong’o and written by Danai Gurira  (You can read her full review here). We also chatted about Billie Woodruff’s The Perfect Match and season 4 of fan favorite House of Cards.

In case you missed it, here is the recap:

Missed our February Chat? Check it out here

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.

PMPWNBAh

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.
resolutions

 

Expand #BlackWomenDirect. It’s more than a hashtag, it’s a movement.
resolutions

 

Write and blog more. Self explanatory.
reelsistas

 

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

The-Barber-2014-movie-poster

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

Anita

Director: Freida Lee Mock

Screenwriter: Freida Lee Mock

Starring: Anita Hill

 

BONUS SELECTIONS

Favorite Short Film: Muted

Muted

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

wtr

Director:  Nzingha Stewart

Screenwriter:  Nzingha Stewart

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

 

Favorite Throwback Film: Rocky

Rocky

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?

Jay

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

ballerina

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

brotherly-love

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 

creedpostersmall

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 

room

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

straight-outta-compton-poster

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

What-Happened-Miss-Simone-poster

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

ayanda-movie-south-african-durban-international-film-festival-3

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

Keke

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

chiraq-chiacgo-fire-teyonah-parris

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?