This past weekend, the movie Night School hit theaters nationwide and it was without question going to be a successful beginning of the Fall movie season. With an opening weekend of about $28 million, Night School shot up past the other movie contenders to take the number 1 spot in American film.
The biggest thing about the movie, besides the top-grossing comedians in entertainment right now, was the lesson that was craftily woven between the movie’s overarching plot. If you haven’t seen Night School then I would suggest stopping right here. But if you have seen the comedy, then you realize that the biggest lesson that movie sold was the lesson of taking advantage of second opportunities.
Many times in life, opportunities and chances come around once. If you’re wise, then you will take notice of the opportunity and it’s relevance and do the best you can humanly do. But sadly, there are times in life when a person’s youth, inexperience and poor judgment outweigh those experiences and you find yourself wishing and hoping for a second chance in hindsight.
With the help of a caring and highly passionate teacher played by Tiffany Haddish, a group of unlikely friends, and the unlikely motivation from an old high school rival, Teddy, portrayed by Kevin Hart, finds himself on the emotional and self-discovery journey of a lifetime. Over the course of the journey, Teddy finds himself facing life’s uncomfortable truths and in the end, he celebrates with success.
In all, despite the movie’s hilarious moments and laughable scenes, I appreciate Night School for its lesson and self-reflective themes. Laughing at comedy is one thing but learning lessons while laughing is a perfect nod to classic cinema and to learning to live and thrive among life’s twists and turns. I even think it would be apropos to state that class is officially dismissed.
Spotlight on the The Lindy Hop Dance. Credit to: http://www.youtube.com and the Black Diaspora 2 Youtube Channel.
The documentary will be premiering on PBS October 3rd, 2018. Video credit: http://www.youtube.com
There have been many articles, research papers and media reports done on various aspects of the millennial generation. Some of them have been praising of our diverseness in both mindset and ethnicity while others have been critical of perceived characteristics that most feel are befitting of an entire generation that does not paint a positive picture or outcome of our lives.
So many media platforms have focused on the millennial generation that it wasn’t until this year, that the millennial age was group was finally defined as persons born between 1980-1996. But despite the love/hate relationship that many feel about the millennials in and out of their lives, there’s no denying the millennial influence. Millennials have bared witness to some of the world’s most tragic moments to the most triumphant. And for those labeled in society as minorities, GIANTS exceptionally portrays that influence, undying passion and the all too accurate story of the millennial existence in today’s world.
There are several reasons why I absolutely adore this program aside from its beautifully written and portrayed storylines. GIANTS is one of the newer programs that directly reach the millennial audience. Since millennials around the nation have decided that they no longer wanted to be slaves to the unrelenting cable television bills of the world, GIANTS is the series for you if you are apart of the cord cutting millennial trend. So in essence, you feel like you are the hippest person at the water cooler by knowing about a YouTube-based series that’s becoming more recognized by the day.
GIANTS also has expanded its time format to that of a regular television series. After the premiere season in 2017, GIANTS, backed by the support of Issa Rae, Jussie Smollett (Empire) and the audience funding option for more show content like GIANTS, it has essentially become a 30-minute special request to its loyal viewers. Often in traditional television series, the audience doesn’t have that much visual influence on the show. But for GIANTS you see and experience it immediately.
Each week on Wednesdays, the audience is engaged in various topics affecting not just millennials but everyone, such as dealing with job loss to sexuality. The three main characters in the series take us through their journey from living in a tiny apartment together to their personal triumphs and failures. Ade, Journee, and Malachi face many obstacles that are often substantial enough to take them under for good. But they have managed to persevere.
Each week and seasons, we not only see the characters evolve but we also see the characters struggle with hard spiritual decisions. Malachi keeps trying to run from the true calling on his life, Journee consistently tries to escape the mental trappings of having an emotional disorder and how it’s currently affecting her life and Ade doesn’t want to fully embrace his feelings of being gay and openly free among his friends and loved ones.
The GIANTS series is truly gripping and I don’t want to give too much away. So instead, check them out on YouTube under the Issa Rae Presents: GIANTS videos. After all, what other reasons do you need to watch it? The show is extremely good and is being highly regarded as such due to the accolades the cast and crew have received as well as the fact that the cast just recently celebrated 2 million views on YouTube. So go ahead and follow the video posted below. I was nice enough to take out the search for it for you!
What happens when you’ve invested in something or someone and that person or idea doesn’t yield the results you expected it would? That ROI just doesn’t measure up and you’re stuck with the consequences. Well on March 30th, Tyler Perry sought to answer and explore that scenario with his latest film release, Acrimony. Backed by stars that have been featured in various Tyler Perry productions and featuring Hollywood’s beloved diva on the hit show Empire, Taraji P. Henson, the cast expertly acted out the realities of what happens when time, chance and opportunity pass on separate timeframes.
Laced with familial situations that many women and men could possibly relate to, Acrimony comes to light at a very pivotal time where relationships and the gender roles have swiftly shifted in America. With the inclusion of women’s rights and upward mobility in the work world, Acrimony shows how some couples fall into the trappings of not being emotional and physically supportive when it required in life. Although the movie was entirely based on the lead characters perspective which was the female lead, it could easily be followed and supported by anyone of the characters. I also feel that Perry’s intention with the film was to create a conversation about these types of issues in relationships as well as issues of mental illnesses that alarmingly go untreated and ignored in the black community.
In the end, as the movie progresses through, the audience is taken for an emotional rollercoaster ride that makes it hard to side completely with one person. Both characters had their flaws and both characters were equally to blame. I even feel that the film misses a few key elements that weren’t addressed towards the film’s ending. But, it was definitely a cinematic change for Perry in that Acrimony was his second thriller-based film released and was for the most part devoid a very heavily based religious and spiritual reference. I’d also like to note that this was Perry’s second Rated R film in over eight years. Overall, I enjoyed the cinematic experience of Acrimony over the Easter weekend. I would recommend seeing this movie with a friend or significant other so that you have someone to bounce commentary and dialogue off with. If you haven’t seen the film and you are due for a good psychological thriller then Acrimony is the film just for you.
Overall Rating: 4/5
The phenomenal movie was released a little over a month ago and it has shattered records and even received the green light on creating a Black Panther 2. Helmed and written by the young Hollywood director Ryan Coogler, Black Panther has truly ushered in a new wave of not only comic movie releases but as well the way mainstream media views predominately African American and minority cast movies.
But considering all of the hype that was around Black Panther since it was first announced as an upcoming Marvel film, was it really surprising that it has crossed a certain threshold of success? Chasing behind the heels of blockbuster powerhouses such as Jurassic Park and Titanic, Black Panther is well on the path to becoming the best selling movie of all time in American cinema history. As I penned this article, Black Panther had already amassed over $1.2 billion in worldwide and domestic profits. Considering the fact the movie has yet to be released digitally and across other media platforms, the overall success if the film is yet to be known.
So, what are my overall thoughts on why the movie has reached and accomplished epic proportions? My answer to this question can be answered for three reasons. Reason one, Black Panther has broad cultural appeal in that it represents a culture that is often portrayed and studied in media for Mass consumption. Reason two, Black Panther served as a connectional film that bridged a gap between both cultures and generations of comic and superhero movie enthusiasts. And finally reason three, Black Panther represents a need and desire to watch and take an active role in creating movies and dialogue centered around minority groups and our ever-changing diverse society.
In closing, if you have seen Black Panther then you should be honored and proud to have witnessed such an awesome cinematic work. And if you haven’t seen Black Panther then, I truly don’t know what to say other than go now or at least by this holiday weekend.
(Review: Contains Spoilers)
By: Shanita Hicks
Overall Rating: 5/5
Storytelling & Storyline
Fences, which released nationwide on Christmas day follows the all too common and phenomenally relatable story of an man and his family processing and coping with life’s most unforeseen and dream deferring lessons.
Based on the play written by the late August Wilson, Fences surrounds the life of Troy Maxson whose brilliantly portrayed by Denzel Washington, a middle-aged man who supports his family by the adopted trade of working for city sanitation in Pittsburg during the mid 1950s. Along his life’s journey, Troy like everyone is faced with decisions and actions that ultimately shaped the future and present state of mind that he is currently placed in. After running away from home at the young and impressionable age of 14, he lands in jail for foolish antics for several years of his life and once he given an outlet to showcase and hone a skill playing baseball, he finds that just like many of the other unknown opportunities of life, this too has passed him by.
The Negro league ultimately rejects him due to his old age of 40 regardless of his talent, which in turn made him bitter and resentful. Instead of a dream deferred it was a dream diminished and along his path, he consciously and subconsciously made the decision to destroy the happiness of everyone around him. No one was safe from his internal wrathful conflict. Which brings the overall idea of Fences to a crucial plot point. The idea and question of “What about my life” is openly and honestly explored over the course of every character that directly and indirectly has interaction with Troy.
Because of his resentment towards failing in his own eyes, he decided to take it out on others most predominately his own family. Despite his youngest son, Cory (Jovan Adepo) showcasing great promise and skill for sports particularly football, Troy finds himself forcing his son away from his dreams because of own personal insecurities towards failed hopes.
Lyons (Russell Hornsby) is his 34-year-old son who finds himself within the same trappings as his youngest son in his father’s eyes. He tried with later failed results to escape the life that his father led by running around in the streets and taking what he felt he was due to support his sort of pipe dream career in music. Despite any promising skills he possessed, it is considered useless because he never learned the value of true hard work and persistence due to his strained relationship with his father.
But besides the personal distress that Troy continued to remained trapped in, the two people in my opinion that suffered the most from his discontentment were his wife Rose Maxson, whom is expertly brought the life by actress Viola Davis and his mentally disabled war veteran brother Gabriel. As if plucked from the story Their Eyes Were Watching God, written by famed writer and historian Zora Neale Hurston, Rose Maxson represented the ideology of women truly being considered the mules of the of the world.
Despite the pain and dissatisfaction of her own dreams never coming to fruition while being married to Troy, she continued to lift him up regardless of if he pleased her emotionally or physically. This hard and complex level of selflessness in the end cost her both her voice and her value in both of their eyes as she found herself lost within his shadow of grief and forced to bare the pain of his infidelity and devaluing actions of creating an outside child.
And tucked within that all consuming shadow, laid his brother Gabriel who was brilliantly cast and developed by actor Mytelti Williamson. Having sustained life-altering injuries during WWII, Gabriel is forced to live under the confines of his brother’s choices since he could no longer function and manage on his own accord.
As the story of Troy Maxson’s life unfolds, the symbolic elements within Fences manifests on various levels. The concept takes on both physical entrapment and emotional entrapment of not wanting to let go of life’s hurts and also not wanting to let go of those that can and cannot thrive if placed in a better situation than you. Just as a physical fence is designed to keep unwanted people and things out it also designed to keep said properties in. For Rose, the fence became her heart’s barrier. She was emotionally raw and wanted so bad to keep everything that was Troy Maxson at home with her both good and bad.
For his children, the fence became a representation of what was holding them back from success and for Troy the fence represented all of the weight being incased from his failures, small successes and his infidelity. The beginning of the end for Troy was surrounded by the birth of his outside child, Raynell (Saniyaa Sidney). She was a product of an affair the Troy guarded as his moment of feeling great and being able to escape the trappings of his life. When Raynell’s mother passed away during delivery, Troy had to bring back her to the one person he knew could help her.
In the end, Raynell, Gabriel, Lyons, Cory, Rose and Troy finally escaped the fence. His sons went on the manage life’s curve balls and find success. His longtime friend Bono, portrayed by Stephen Henderson learned what not to do and what to do in life based on the choices he saw Troy make. Rose became the mother that she was meant to be with Raynell and Gabriel although considered a shell of his former self thrived in his own regard once he was given the care and treatment he required. At the end, once everyone had returned for Troy’s funeral Gabriel’s characteristics and antics took on a very spiritual aspect in that he finally got the opportunity to “guide and usher” Troy’s spirit into heaven by sounding his faithful trumpet.
Without question, Fences in my opinion is probably the best film of 2016. From the acting to the scenery each part of this film is top notch. Denzel did a fantastic job bringing this project to the silver screen and you would be very silly not to go witness it’s greatness.