Friday, February 9, 2018

For the Love of Black Cinema

February is easily one of my favorite months for two very distinct celebrations: Black History Month and Valentine's Day. So, it made sense to make this month's blog post about something that is very near and dear to my heart: black cinema. From a best picture Oscar win last year (Barry Jenkins' "Moonlight") to a best picture Oscar nomination this year (Jordan Peele's "Get Out"), movies written, directed, starring, and produced by and for black people--and delivered across a spectrum of time periods and experiences--are finally being recognized as cinematic forces to be reckoned with. And let's just say I could not be more proud and excited. So, without further ado, grab a snack and enjoy these sneak previews of a few melanin-flava'd 2018 films heading your way that will have you cheering, crying, and clutching your pearls (or neckties).

Black Panther - February 16th

The buzz, excitement, accolades and, its near-to-100% Tomatometer score on review aggregation film and television website,, makes this Marvel big screen bonanza easily one of the most anticipated films in its franchise and, possibly, one of its first to grab a 2019 Oscar nomination and win. Introduced into the Marvel comic world in July 1966, this big-screen adaptation finds Black Panther a.k.a T'Challa returning home to the African nation of Wakanda, after the death of his father, to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T'Challa gets tested when he's drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people. Starring Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong'o, and Michael B. Jordan.


A Wrinkle in TimeMarch 9th

Staying in the world of fantasy, two of entertainment's most powerful women--Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey--team up to bring a children's story classic to life. Wrinkle follows Meg Murry played by actress Storm Reid, who stars as a young girl struggling with the disappearance of her scientist father, until she finds herself on an interplanetary journey with a schoolmate and her younger brother to find him, aided by a trio of supernatural beings: Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, and Mindy Kaling.


Acrimony - March 30th 

From sci-fi thriller to hold-on-to-your-seat suspense, the end of March ends with a bang, when Taraji P. Henson returns to the big screen for a second time this year (after a her action-packed role in "Proud Mary"). Henson plays Melinda, a faithful wife tired of standing by her devious husband, who becomes enraged when it becomes clear she has been betrayed. Produced, written, and directed by Tyler Perry, "Acrimony" also stars Lyriq Bent of Netflix's "She's Gotta Have It" and Tika Sumpter.


Breaking In - May 11th

Black heroines will continue to keep theaters"darkly lit"when Gabrielle Union hits the big screen Mother's Day weekend as Shaun Russell, a woman who, after the sudden death of her father, takes her two children on a weekend getaway to her late father's secluded, high-tech estate in the countryside. She soon finds herself in a desperate fight to save all of their lives when four men break into the house in search of something. Union also serves in a producer role alongside super-producer, Will Packer. 


Equalizer 2 - September 14th 

The ladies may have kicked off the summer, but the men will help bring it to an action-packed close. In August, "The Equalizer 2" hits theaters, as a sequel to its 2014 remake. Not much is known about the plot of the movie, based on the 1980s TV series of the same name, but we do know these two things: 1) Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington will reprise his role as vigilante Robert McCall and 2) Academy-winning director Antoine Fuqua of "Training Day" fame climbs into the director's seat again to command this thriller.  Trailer: N/A

Creed 2 - November 21st 

Photo Credit: Gerardo Moreno
Cue the music, pan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art stairs, and brace yourself for another one-two-punch in the form of a sequel to the movie that introduced Michael B. Jordan to mainstream audiences: "Creed 2." The upcoming film, set to drop Thanksgiving week, continues to follow Jordan as Adonis Creed (son of Apollo Creed) and his life inside and outside of the ring as he deals with new-found fame, issues with his family, and his continuing quest to become a champion. Up-and-coming African-American director, Steven Caple Jr., directs and Ryan Cooler will serve in an executive producer role. Trailer: N/A

There's no debating that from the fictional country of Wakanda to the real-life streets of Philly, 2018's adventures on the big screen are sure to offer something for everyone to love. So, mark your calendars, make your plans, and prepare to support black film "Sho Nuff...Ya Digg...By Any Means Necessary." Thanks Spike. 

Sources: Movie Insider; Rotten Tomatoes; YouTube; Wikipedia 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A Happier New Year as Easy as 1, 2, 3

I am definitely my mother's child, but one thing we didn't share was a mutual love of New Year's Eve. While most busied with putting final party details in place, chilling bottles of champagne, and laying out festive outfits to don, my mother spent the hours leading up to midnight in quiet reflection on the year that had passed and a (somewhat pessimistic) view of what a new year could bring. It was definitely a glass half empty approach to embracing another 365 days on the horizon, especially if the prior year was marked with loss of some kind. Needless to say, as I became a young woman, I would have to make a concerted effort to enjoy New Year's Eve in order to shake off the unfounded fears my mom clung to that could easily hang over my celebration like a cumulus cloud, thanks to what I call "familial conditioning."

As I've gotten older and partying on New Year's Eve has become a bit riskier (yep, wisdom speaking here) my celebrations are often confined to gathering in friends' homes who live within a five mile radius; taking to the couch with a bottle of bubbly, Chinese food delivery, and Netflix on deck; or quietly spending it with a significant other. So, I may not "turn up" like I used to but one thing I'm mindful not to do is lament about what possible sorrow a new year may bring, and instead see the impending year as one full of possibility for growth, adventure, and new discoveries. That is why when I ran across a quote from American writer, activist, and feminist, Rita Mae Brown, I realized it provided the perfect recipe for happiness that has unknowingly always been at the root of my joy and also serves as a great reminder of how to approach and, ultimately, have a fabulous new year--every year--in three easy steps.

1. Find Someone to Love: I know traditionally speaking, it's easy to immediately reduce this advice to the definition of love in a romantic sense. And there's certainly nothing wrong with that; if you have a romantic partner to love, love them and love them hard. But, thankfully, love is much bigger than that and is something everyone needs, whether exhibited through a closer connection with family and friends, or through volunteering with the numerous organizations designed to assist the disadvantaged. Be it through organizations like Big Brother, Black Girls Rock, the Red Cross, or even coaching a little league team, there is always someone who could stand being loved on through your time, attention, and efforts. As actor Adrian Grenier once said, "It's enough to indulge and to be selfish but true happiness is really when you start giving back." So, go head, give back and spread some love while doing it.

2. Find Something to Do: Benjamin Franklin once said, "If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality." That also reminds me of something my mother often told me: "Time waits for no man; you either get busy living or get busy dying." Now, that may have been a tad extreme in the literal sense, but the message was loud and clear: get moving! Whether that's picking back up an old hobby or taking up a new one; learning a new language; finally drafting that business plan; finishing school; or--everyone's favorite new year's resolution--getting in better shape, there's a lot more you could be doing if your free time is usually spent twiddling your thumbs or, dare I say, sitting on social media. When you have something productive to do, the idleness that can often lead to restlessness, irritability, and sadness, will have a difficult time taking root. So, get going, which ties directly into the last important piece of advice:

3. Find Something to Look Forward To: This, I must say, is my personal favorite and why you could flip through my yearly planner and see something of interest--a concert, a trip, a Broadway show, even the opening of a new restaurant--noted across every month. Anticipation births excitement. And as writer Gretchen Rubin said, "By having something you look forward to, you bring happiness into your life well before the event actually takes place." And who among us could afford an investment into happiness that yields a return well in advance of its "maturity date"? All of us! So, get to planning and get that joy flowing into your life.

As 2018 welcomes us with open arms, let's make plans to embrace it back with a deliberate investment into our growth and happiness that will ultimately make us better, more joyful people, not only for ourselves but for those in our lives as well.

Happy New Year!