Madam C.J. Walker (Octavia Spencer), was given the name of Sarah Breedlove at birth. Born just two years after the end of the Civil War, her early life was difficult. Working as a laundress to take care of herself and her daughter, Lelia (Tiffany Haddish), her fate changes when she meets Addie (Carmen Ejojo). Addie is a successful hairstylist who offers to help Sarah with her hair in return for free laundry.
When Sarah shows that she has a skill for sales, Addie turns her down. This leads Sarah, who will soon be known as Madam C.J. Walker down the path of starting her own business. But, like any new business, there are pitfalls. Sarah’s 3rd husband, Charles James Walker (Blair Underwood) appears to be accepting of his wife’s non-traditional choices. There are also betrayals and Addie’s constant attempts to bring Sarah down once and for all.
I enjoyed this miniseries. It was a history lesson without feeling like a history lesson. As we look to the past and voices who previously have been silenced or minimized, this series highlights the accomplishments of those who rightly deserve the limelight.
I recommend it.
Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker is available for streaming on Netflix.
The topics of race relations and the relationships between parents and teenagers is often complicated.
In the new movie, Luce, (based on the play of the same name) Luce Edgar (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is the perfect teenager. He is a star athlete, an A student, respectful, humble and hardworking. Born in the African country of Eritrea, Luce was adopted by Amy and Peter Edgar (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth), a middle class Caucasian couple.
Everything seems hunky dory until Amy is called by Luce’s history teacher, Harriet Wilson (Octavia Spencer). One of his papers has caught Miss Wilson’s eye and not for the right reasons. This paper opens the door to suspicion, questions about trust and who these characters really are.
Having never seen the play, I can only judge the narrative by the film.
The word I would use to describe this film is disappointing. There is so much potential in this film and yet it is wasted. The subjects spoken of in this film are so powerful and timely. Instead of using these subjects as a subtle teaching moment, the drama and the tension in the narrative is wasted. As is the the on screen talent.
As the film came to a close, the narrative threads did not come together. I don’t know if this was done on purpose or just laziness on the part of the screenwriters. If it was done intentionally, it was not done well. It was as if the individual parts of the narrative worked together on their own, but never quite gelled as they could have.
These days, families come in all shapes and sizes. However, that does not mean that parenting and maintaining a marriage or a relationship is easy.
InInstant Family, Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) are a childless couple who decide that it’s time to have children. Instead of having children the old fashioned way, they decide to go the route of becoming foster parents. Two social workers Karen (Octavia Spencer) and Sharon (Tig Notaro), steer the would be parents into the process of fostering with the ultimate goal of adoption.
The children who enter Pete and Ellie’s lives are three Latinex siblings: Lizzie (Isabela Moner), Juan (Gustavo Escobar) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz). Lizzie is both the typical teenager and a second mother to her younger siblings. Juan has anxiety issues. Lita is adorable, but she is spoiled. Can this couple become the parents they want to be and more importantly, will these kids give them the opportunity to become parents?
Instant Family is one of those films that is both mildly charming and slightly message heavy. It’s not a bad film, but it’s not exactly the type of film that would implore me to go to the movie theater.
The story of a romance between a human female and a non human or super human male is not new to readers or audiences. This basic narrative has been rebooted many times over in many different ways for generations. The question is, can the writer or writers make their narrative stand out from similar narratives?
The new film, The Shape Of Water, takes place in 1962 Baltimore. Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a mute woman who works for a government facility in the janitorial department. She spends her time with her co-worker and friend (who talks enough for both of them), Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and her middle-aged bachelor neighbor, Giles (Richard Jenkins). One day, a new classified experiment arrives the facility under the control of Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). Elisa and Zelda are told to keep their time in the laboratory short, but Elisa’s curiosity gets the best of her.
The experiment is an Amphibian Man (Doug Jones), who Mr. Strickland would like to kill and experiment on. But Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) has a conscious and a secret reason for keeping the creature alive. Can Elisa save this creature and how will that forever change them both?
Using a fairy tale, Beauty and The Beast motif, this film is one of my favorite in 2017. I loved the basic fairy tale narrative blended with life in the early 60’s. Both The Cold War and The Civil Rights Movement are so seamlessly blended into the plot that the audience forgets about the history lesson they are receiving. I would not be surprised if this film did well come awards season.
James Brown is a music legend. His music has spawned several genres and produced countless imitators.
The new biopic of his life, Get On Up is presently in theaters. Chadwick Boseman, who last year played another ground breaking icon, Jackie Robinson, in 42, takes on the role of the Godfather Of Soul. James Brown grew in Augusta, Georgia, in extremely poor circumstances. His mother, Susie Brown (Viola Davis) abandoned her son as a boy, leaving him to be raised by Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer). His rise to the top of the music scene is legendary, while his life is a mass of contradictions. He was a perfectionist performer, who doted on his family, but married several times over and was abusive to one of his wives. His manager Ben Bart (Dan Akroyd) and his best friend Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis) stand by him through the highs and lows of his life.
I’m not sure if I liked this movie. While I can foresee nominations for Davis, Boseman (who completely disappears into the part) and Ellis, the movie is a little long for my taste. As a biopic is not too over-dramatic, nor does it skip over it’s lead character’s worst qualities. But there are certain scenes that I would have left for the extras part of the DVD instead of leaving it on the theatrical release.