There are two equally important keys to success: talent and hard work.
The 4th season of National Geographic Channel’s Genius series follows the life and career of the late Aretha Franklin. The first three episodes cuts back and forth from the early fifties, when the future superstar is a preteen to the sixties when the adult Aretha (Cynthia Erivo) is on the brink of superstardom. As a young girl, Franklin was a singing wunderkind. Raised by her enigmatic preacher father C.L. Franklin (Courtney B. Vance), she witnesses both his devotion to the church and his less than moral extracurricular activities. In the present, she is not only dealing with work and motherhood, but her sometimes shaky marriage to her husband/manager, Ted White (Malcolm Barrett).
Watching the first three episodes, I feel like I know who Aretha Franklin was, as a whole person. Not just the image presented in the press. Looking back, she represents badly needed change in this country for both women and people of color.
Not surprisingly, most of the nominees are white and male. Among the major acting nominations, Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) is the only performer of color who was nominated. In the directing category, Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) is the only non Caucasian to receive the nomination.
Not that those who were nominated don’t deserve their nominations, but there is something to be said for representation. Two of my favorite movies from 2019 are Little Women and The Farewell. Both were directed by women and both were brilliant films. Little Women has 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Farewell has a98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And yet, in the major categories, did not receive their due.
I don’t know what is in the water in Hollywood. But it feels like like a slap in the face. It’s as if the powers that be are either afraid of diversity or don’t want it. They are content with the status quo which holds up their place in the world.
It’s 2020. It’s time for women and people of color to be seen and given the opportunity to succeed in Hollywood. But that will only happen when the Academy finally admits that they have a problem with diversity.
Joker: In this re imagined world from that Batman universe, Joaquin Phoenix adds new layers to this iconic character while talking frankly about mental illness.
The Song of Names: Based on the book of the same name, the film follows a man who is trying to discover the secrets of a missing childhood friend.
Frozen II: This sequel to the mega-hit Frozen was well worth the six year wait. Instead of doing a slap-dash direct to video type sequel, the filmmakers expanded this world in new ways, making the story even more relevant.
This will be my last post for 2019. Wherever you are, thank you for reading this year. May 2020 be bright and hopeful.
It’s not uncommon to see a movie/television show or read a story about a man who stands up against injustice. However, the same story with a female protagonist is sadly, not as commonplace.
The new Harriet Tubman biopic, Harriet, was just released in theaters. Known on the plantation as Minty, the future Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo) was born a slave. Though her father was born free, she is enslaved because her mother is a slave. After the death of her master, Minty knows that she will soon be sold. Her only choice is to escape to freedom.
After a 100 mile journey from Maryland, Harriet arrives in Philadelphia. Assisted by William Still (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Marie Buchanon (Janelle Monae), Harriet settles down into the quiet life of a free person of color. But while she resides in freedom, Harriet feels uneasy that her family is still in bondage. This uneasiness sends her back to Maryland, to free as many slaves as possible.
Going back and forth earns Harriet a reputation and a target on her head. One of those who would like to see her captured is Gideon Brodess (Joe Alwyn), the son of the family who owned Harriet. History tells us that Harriet Tubman does eventually achieve her goal, but not without many obstacles in her way.
This movie is brilliant and I believe, a must-see for anyone who believes in the freedoms that the United States is built on. Director and co-screenwriter Kasi Lemmons tells the story of her subject in a manner that simultaneously humanizes Harriet and gives her the proper moment in the spotlight.
I loved this film because it is educational and entertaining. From a writing standpoint, this is a balancing act in which many try, but few succeed. I also loved that there was no love interest for Harriet. Though the viewer is introduced to her first husband, his prominence in the narrative ends with the first act. He is not the raison d’être for everything that occurs within this film. I wish more filmmakers and screenwriters told the story of a female protagonist without relying on a romantic narrative because it’s the easy thing to do.
I absolutely recommend it and I would not be shocked if this film did well come award season.
One of the ills that comes with racism and prejudice is the lack of on-screen representation. Thankfully, many filmmakers are starting to see the light and tell the stories of those who have been ignored or maligned in the past.
The new trailer for the Harriet Tubman biopic was released today. Entitled Harriet, the film stars Cynthia Erivo as the legendary freedom fighter.
Though some may label this film as potential Oscar bait (as films of this nature usually are, especially given it’s November release date), I think the message of the story is more important than the awards it may or may not win. It is also about time that a woman of Harriet Tubman’s stature and bravery was given her due on-screen.
Now we can only hope that the film lives up to the hype and the trailer.
The heist movie genre can be boiled down to two specific words: guns and cars. I’m not usually a fan of this genre, but sometimes a movie that falls within this genre surprises me.
In the new movie, Widows, Veronica (Viola Davis) lives an idyllic live with her husband, Harry (Liam Neeson) in Chicago. Their marriage is picture perfect. That perfection is about to be revealed as a mirage. Harry earns his living via less than lawful means and is killed in the process. The man who Harry stole from, Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), not only wants his money back, but is also trying to go legit at the same time. Jamal’s brother and go to henchman, Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) is more than willing to help his brother get his money back.
Veronica soon learns of her late husband’s illicit activities and turns to the women whose husbands were killed with Harry to get Jamal his money back. Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) are at first reluctant to join Veronica, but they change their mind. At the same time, there is a local election going on. Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) is career politician whose father, Tom Mulligan (Robert Duvall) was also a career politician. With the election coming up and the plans for the heist underway, what truths will be revealed?
This movie is brilliant. It’s much more than the standard heist film, at least from my perspective. The movie talks about complicated issues such as class, money, politics in such a way that it does not feel like a lecture. I also loved that the four female leads were not the typical wife/girlfriend/love interest of the male characters that are usually seen in this genre of film. They were strong, capable and completely willing to do what needed to be done to ensure their success.