Monday, December 27, 2021

The Insecure Finale: Was It Molly's Show All Along? - A Think Piece

Of course I'm being facetious with the title of this blog post. Even those who haven't watched a single episode of Insecure are sure to have at least heard of its powerhouse, multi-hyphenated star and show creator, Issa Rae, who took her "The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl" (ABG) YouTube series in 2011 and parlayed it into a 30-minute sitcom and runaway hit over at HBO in 2016 that garnered upward of over a million viewers each of its five seasons. Although ABG dealt singularly with Rae's many, well, awkward adventures while navigating life as a twenty-something, single, African-American, Los Angelean, the HBO sitcom would partner her with a cast of characters as besties also on a similar journey in figuring out this thing called life.
Enter Molly Carter, the sharp-dressed attorney/homegirl and ride-or-die friend that Issa's character would describe as someone "white people lovvveeddd and black people lovveddddd." Then there was Kellie Prenny, the sexually liberated, financier who would never enter or leave a room without dropping a (often inappropriate) quip that would leave everyone in stitches. And rounding out the crew was Tiffany DuBois, the conservative, boo'd-up-since-college, wife, publicist and AKA sorority sister to Molly. Mix this cast of characters with a sprinkle of the highs and lows of dating, job woes, family drama, a few freestyle raps, and you got the hit we've all come to know and love, and whose ending we now mourn. On Sunday night, Insecure dropped its equally anticipated yet dreaded series finale for those of us who saw ourselves as the fifth friend of this squad that we got together and "ki-ki'd" with each Sunday night. We wanted to know where they'd go from here? What we'd do without them? But most importantly, we wanted to know where--or make that who--Issa's character would ultimately end up with? 

In season 1, episode 1, we found Rae's character lamenting a five-year relationship with boyfriend, Lawrence, that felt like it was going nowhere, in particular after he had lost his job, was attempting to create a new app and probably, unbeknownst to himself and Issa, was existing in a state of depression. Rae's character would also comment that four of those five years saw Lawrence trying to get himself together. After his dropping the ball on celebrating her birthday, leading Issa to hit up a nightclub with Molly and "coincidently" run into Issa's ex, Daniel, the series would take us on an additional five-year rollercoaster ride of breakups, makeups, side chicks, side dudes, baby mama drama, career changes, friendship fallouts and makeups, and even a shot in the eye (if you know, you know. LOL).  Alliances were created in the form of the "Issa Hive" and the "Lawrence Hive," i.e., viewers taking sides on how both characters should navigate life without the other character. And all the while Molly, Kellie, and Tiffany would navigate equally--if not more challenging life obstacles--postpartum depression, the death of a parent--hell, even one character's own death (hey, you'd have to see it to understand), reinforcing how the uncertainties of life can often leave us feeling insecure about the choices we've made in life. 

However, we trusted by the end of the series--as we often hope for ourselves--we'd see a glow-up for all of the characters that would make all of the lessons learned and hardships endured worth it. And in many ways Insecure hit its mark: Molly, after more failed relationships than we care to count, found herself at the altar with, as one viewer put it, her "economic equal" and law firm colleague (who she once saw as her nemesis), loving her safely and unconditionally like she always wanted and deserved. Kellie who, for as long as viewers can remember, rallied against the idea of parenthood, unexpectedly announced her pregnancy after a year-long relationship with a partner who, from the few words spoken and calming energy he exuded, let viewers know he just lets Kellie be Kellie, which is always what she needed. And Tiffany, who begrudgingly (and fearfully) moved with her husband and toddler to Denver in the middle of the final season was slowly finding her new stride all while being pregnant with a new life. And then there was Issa. 

In all fairness, Issa's character experienced her share of life-changing pivots during the series as well--quitting her job at the "We Got Y'all" nonprofit, which assisted inner city youth, without having a real career path plan in place and taking a gig as an Uber driver and an apartment manager in the interim to make ends meet; embarking on relationships with a few promising suitors (who she ultimately sabotaged futures with); and stepping out on faith to throw her own neighborhood block party to showcase local talent. Ultimately, the latter, would lead her to her true passion in the last two seasons in the form of starting her own nonprofit--The Blocc--designed to help artists of color in L.A. find spaces and platforms to showcase their work. Even a huge blowout with Molly in season four, which threatened to end the friendship forever, found her more introspective and them closer than ever by the series end. Yet the proverbial cloud that hung over the series for five seasons was whether Issa and Lawrence would find their way back to each other. And, spoiler alert, they did. 

Despite the history of cheating on both of their parts, ultimately leading Lawrence to a new relationship that would produce a son and Issa struggling to accept his new reality, the "love conquers all" adage reared its head and the closing scene showed Issa leaving her nonprofit's new brick-and-mortar office in L.A, cruising in her new Lexus to her new home, and opening the door to find Lawrence and his now pre-school aged son waiting with a cake to wish her a happy birthday. The sparkling diamond on Issa's left hand let viewers know without a word being uttered about it that the two were now engaged. Mic drop. Series end.

Like most, I was filled with a mix of emotions: joy that each character seemed to have found their happy ending; sad that they'd no longer be there each week to provide us the much needed escapism from our own realities. Afterward, there was time spent on social media platforms enjoying the shared feelings and much-deserved praise for Issa and her writing team's ability to create storylines that engaged viewers across demographics (case and point, on the night the finale aired, I got calls from one of my sisters who is in her 60s as well as texts from my nephews who are in their 20s, all wanting to discuss the show's end and how they felt about the choices each character made).

Then there was the group texts between friends sharing their thoughts on possible alternate endings, reminiscing on situations that got the characters to where they are, and creating imaginary futures for them beyond the show's end. I crawled into bed spent yet seemingly at peace, but--as a friend I spoke with later likened to a stomach bug--something was bothering me but I wasn't sure what it was. Then it hit me: Issa hadn't really grown as much as she was being credited with, making the celebration of her "happily ever after" a bit questionable. I immediately grabbed my phone and shared my "a ha" moment with a friend and she quickly replied that there was a reason she couldn't sleep either, and she wasn't sure why until I had possibly unearthed the reason: the return to Lawrence was a bit unrealistic and, as one person tweeted, somewhat irresponsible (as evidenced by the number of viewers contemplating calling ex's and getting that old thang back) leaving an unsatisfying taste in my mouth. 

Now don't get me wrong: anyone that knows me knows I'm the biggest champion you can find for Black Love. But I'm also well aware how most women approach and process breakups, especially when the woman is the "breaker-uper." Issa set in motion the breakup with Lawrence in season 1. And although women are often labeled as being "emotional," when it comes to break-ups we're largely analytical, meaning we've turned that thing around in our heads a million times, back and forth, up and down, and running multiple scenarios of the aftermath before actually pulling the trigger. It's rarely done haphazardly nor with huge regret. Sadness? Of course. Regret, not often. 

Yes, there are exceptions to every rule but, it's for that reason that when women initiate break-ups, they often don't return to those relationships--ever--which makes Issa's being stuck in this regret for five years, even having it overshadow almost every decision she made, only to have her return, unthinkable. Unlike Molly et al., who used their failed relationships to propel them forward toward growth, Issa's relationship became a proverbial albatross around her neck that she was never able to unshackle herself from all the way to the final frame. And as my friend pointed out, a framing shot in which she didn't even appear authentically happy. In fact, it was a decision we felt was primarily motivated out of fear of letting her past life completely go and out of an angst of seeing everyone move on to their new lives quicker than she anticipated. Lawrence was always "home base"; a safe space she needed. And we all know when you're in need more than you're in want, your decision making can be greatly impaired. And that's when I realized this was Molly's show all along. 

If fans are honest with themselves, that warm joy we felt as the credits rolled were really about Molly's story arc, not Issa's. When we first met Molly, she was overworked at her firm, holding her family together, maneuvering through multiple dating apps, and juggling hope and heartbreak like a champ. She tried on various relationships and, when they didn't quite fit, she wasn't afraid to move on and trust love again. We watched her challenge herself by dating outside of her race--a suggestion many African-American women have shunned in keeping hope alive for their IBM (ideal black man)--and when roadblocks would emerge in both her relationships and career, Molly ultimately did the bravest thing one can do: admit she might be her own biggest obstacle and got herself a black therapist to help her navigate this thing called life. In the end, she was thriving at an all-black-law firm (no longer shackled by the corporate myth that it has to be "white to be right"); had taken the reigns on securing her parents financial future in the nick of time (shoutout to Kelly with the assist); and had experienced enough self growth along the way to usher in the love of her life. Now THAT's a glow up and the personification of going from insecure to secure AF. Which is why Issa's constant back track to a relationship that never brought out the best in her felt like somewhat of a letdown. 

Ultimately, what Issa did was constantly change but not necessarily grow. And that became the greatest lesson we could've all taken from the ending of this series just as we prepare to exit one year and enter into the next. Do our new years resolutions, next moves, or future plans reflect areas that will promote growth or are we simply changing, be it jobs, relationships, area codes, or social circles? One of my favorite sayings is "wherever you go, there you are." If the change is not deep within; if we're not engaging in activities, behaviors, self-care, or relationships that promote growth from our core, then all we're doing is moving in circles, not really going anywhere or--perish the thought--returning to the old familiar when the going gets tough (a la Issa and Lawrence). 

Hell, perhaps their love story was true love after all and so their reconnection was kismet. But while we celebrate the now cultural icon that is Insecure and many laud Issa's character for finding her way back to Lawrence, I'm choosing to give Molly "all her things" for reminding us all that the greatest relationship you can ever have--even before finding true love--is the one you have with yourself, and that that discovery of self is most often found by having the courage to move forward and move forward boldly. As a wise person once said, "If you're scared to go, go scared." 

And to the actresses--Issa, Yvonne, Natasha, and Amanda--who portrayed these characters courageously for five seasons and allowed us to see ourselves, celebrate ourselves, laugh at ourselves and, ultimately, forgive ourselves, you deserve it all. We don't know what we're going to do without you, but we're grateful for the reminder you gave us of what we can do with love, laughter, Black Girl Magic, and a little bit of help from our friends. Kudos, ladies, and Happy New Year to all of my Sistas! May the glow up be within your grasp.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

No Wealth Greater Than Health: A Thanksgiving Reminder

It is without question that the COVID-19 pandemic brought an amount of loss and grief that remains incomprehensible. Thus, as we enter the eve of another Thanksgiving, it's safe to say that what many will be most grateful for--as vaccinations allow us to safely gather with family and friends this year--is the opportunity to do just that: gather. Yet for the many that will have the opportunity to embrace loved ones, there will be just as many experiencing empty spaces at dinner tables; managing the void of familiar laughter in rooms; reflecting on the absence of warm embraces at front doors. Like a callous thief, the coronavirus indeed robbed so many of us of so much and, for those of us who experienced those losses personally, it was a painful reminder that there is no greater wealth on earth than your health. 

For the many who contracted the virus, it was simply inevitable. As the virus came and grabbed hold of persons of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds, it showed itself as unforgiving, non-selective, and relentless. And with 5.15 million deaths worldwide (and unfortunately continuing), it remains a phenomenon unlike any we've seen in over a century, after the 1918 Spanish Flu, which claimed upward of 50 million lives. And much like the Spanish Flu, COVID-19 was a battle many just couldn't win. However, when it comes to managing health that is still within our control, the pandemic served as a wake-up call that we must be diligent in doing so not only for ourselves but for our loved ones as well. 

I was personally reminded of this recently when a close family member was left in wait about a possible diagnosis that would have most definitely put their mortality in jeopardy. What was most interesting was how their possible diagnosis had also impacted everyone around them who was quietly fearing the worst yet praying for the best. The angst and worry was palpable; the wait felt like an eternity. Yet all praise to the Most High, the results revealed my loved one was in the clear. Thanks to early screening, they were able to get ahead of a diagnosis that continues to claim the lives of so many. Much like the fear that had overwhelmed us as a family, it was soon replaced by a joy that consumed us, lending itself to a gratitude that would make this Thanksgiving more special than it has been in a long time. 

This is when I was reminded that our responsibility for managing our health is not just about us; it is about those that love us as well. For those of us blessed to have access to affordable healthcare, not taking advantage of pre-screenings, annual exams, and routine checkups is simply irresponsible--and dare I say--selfish. And for persons of color, not only should many of those screenings happen sooner than for others, but the impact of not doing so if often so much greater. For as many of us have seen, when a person's health is in jeopardy, it is often loved ones who will bare the brunt emotionally, in sacrificed time and, often, financially. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, if everyone in the United States received recommended clinical preventive care, over 100,000 lives could be saved each year. That's 100,000 less heartbreaks, 100,000 less tears and, subsequently, 100,000 less loved ones laid to rest. 

Yes, death is inevitable but premature death often remains preventable and the power is often in our very own hands. So as we slowly begin to emerge from a most painful pandemic in which we didn't have much control, take this Thanksgiving to not only be grateful for your health and the health of loved ones who are still with us, but let us all commit to remaining diligent with our own health care not just for our sake but the sake of those who love us the most. 

 Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

For a complete guide to annual health screenings by gender and age, click here

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Monday, August 16, 2021

'Respect' for NextAct Cinema

Although a tad late, it was most likely an article I stumbled across recently that brought me to learn of NextAct Cinema--Maryland's only minority owned, independent, boutique-style movie theater. So, as this self-ordained cinephile prepared for the release of the highly-anticipated Aretha Franklin biopic, "Respect," I knew exactly where I wanted to be sitting to see it. Nestled northwest of Baltimore in the quaint suburb of Pikesville, NextAct opened its doors in March 2019 by brothers Anthony Fykes and Robert Wright, who wanted to elevate their love of cinema normally enjoyed in their at-home theatre room to a larger platform. That platform became a twin screen, 86-total-adjustable-leather-seat movie house complete with in-seat dining and an array of food menu options (in addition to the traditional movie fare of popcorn and candy) including crab cakes and personal pizzas to salads and quesadillas to soups and deli sandwiches courtesy of the adjoined Pike's Diner and Crab House. 

However, the brick and mortar that houses NextAct is not new to the cinematic landscape, as the building was once home to Pikes Theatre, which opened in 1938 and continued to show movies until closing in 1984 and transforming itself into a restaurant/catering business that also closed in 2004. Pikes reopened as a movie theater from 2013 to 2016 before closing its doors once again until Fykes and Wright brought their dream to reality and the rest, as they say, is Black history. 

Co-owners, Anthony Fykes and Robert Wright
A Huffington Post article on NextAct Cinema stated that according to the Motion Picture Association of America, "the number of frequent African-American moviegoers soared from 3.8 million in 2015 to 5.6 million in 2016. However, many black communities across the country are 'cinema deserts' and lack any movie theaters at all, much less any that are black-owned," thus making NextAct timely, relevant, and much needed. In fact, in a March 2020 Washington Post article, Fykes stated, "There are only two other black-owned theaters that we know of. One is in Richmond and one is in Las Vegas." The Huffington Post article went on to state, "even though black-owned movie theaters are rare today, there is a long history of successful theaters that were catered to African-American patrons. Those theaters not only served as places for black people to watch movies but as communal spaces when they were being excluded." Because of this, it's no surprise that Fykes and Wright have also used their theater space for live jazz, happy hours, karaoke, comedy shows, and birthday parties as an effort to extend its reach and further engage the community. 

Therefore, as I comfortably settled into my seat, awaiting my turkey club sandwich and fries to be brought to me while engaging in small banter with other patrons who'd reserved a seat for the Saturday 1 p.m. showing of "Respect," it was not lost on me that I was there to see a movie about one who broke barriers and opened doors, in a theatre operated by two black men who are committed to doing the same. Whether on the screen, behind the camera or, in this case, behind the proverbial theater curtain, supporting NextAct Cinema was a wonderful reminder that there are many parts to play in moving minority entrepreneurship as well as the culture forward. Fykes and Wright have placed their names in the history books and called "action" on their own dreams, while serving as an inspiration to everyone who enters their theater doors with a dream of their own to do the same.

NextAct Cinema
921 Reisterstown Road
Pikesville, MD 21208

Sources: Black Enterprise; The Baltimore Sun; The Huffington Post

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Sunday, July 4, 2021

Happy Juneteenth...Again

One of my most beloved quotes is from the great late poet Dr. Maya Angelou who stated, “…when you know better, you do better.” It’s served as one of the most profound quotes I’ve held onto that has helped me give myself grace when learning from personal mistakes or, better termed, “life lessons.” Which is why on this Fourth of July/Independence Day, the question “Independence for who?” makes it so easy for me to replace waving flags, gawking at fireworks, and singing the National Anthem with sojourning on the couch and watching Ice Cube’s “Friday” trilogy for the umpteenth time. Don’t get me wrong, I—like most Americans despite ethnicity—reveled in all the pageantry and festivities of the holiday for years, which unofficially marks the peak of summer and the beginning of “cookout season.” But if the last year has reminded me of anything, from the health disparities underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic to the growing economic divide to the continuous yet unpunishable murders of men and women of color, is that this country still has a long way to go before it can authentically celebrate its passage of 1776’s Declaration of Independence, which was to guarantee life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the promise of equality for all—although written while more than half a million black Americans were enslaved at the time of its signing. Le sigh. 

This is why Juneteenth—a day commemorating the emancipation of African-American slaves on June 19, 1865 (yes, two whole years after President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation issued on January 1, 1863 officially outlawed slavery in Texas and in all of the other states of the original Confederacy)—is so much more meaningful for me to celebrate. And why although President Joe Biden officially signed the day into law this year to be recognized as a federal holiday, makes no difference to me, since it was an honor for me in recent years to use my personal leave time to take the day off from work in reverence to. In fact, I actually have great reservation about Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday for fear the day may become like any other holiday for most and misappropriated for mattress sales and “ladies free before 6:19 p.m.” club promotions, but I digress. 

Therefore, for that reason and before the possibility that the richness of Juneteenth is dismantled, I was ecstatic to commemorate the holiday this year with family at the historic Leimert Park with its two-day celebration of Black liberation designed to “educate, entertain and activate” through art, music, food, and performances. Spending that time intentionally with family and the extended family of “skinfolk” was the perfect reminder that regardless of our progress, we must continue to celebrate, and uphold one another and the many facets of our culture, if we are to continue to survive and thrive within a country that regularly reminds us that July 4, 1776 was and is just another day for us.
Thus, while I’d never turn down a good ol’ grilled hot dog or hamburger offered to me on this fourth day of the seventh month of the year, my inactivity is solidified with an excerpt from abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass’ famed 1852 speech to the Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” in which he states, “…I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common….”

On that note, and to my African-American brothers and sisters, Happy Juneteenth…again.

Sources: Wikipedia, Britannica

Angelou and Douglass Image/Photo Credits: N/A

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Black Brilliance on the Big Screen

On a recent self-imposed sabbatical, I was able to (once fully vaccinated :-) travel and spend much-desired time with family to do a lot of the “joyful nothingness” that bonds us, from watching crime shows over a jumbo bag of potato chips to taking late night neighborhood strolls while trading “remember when…” stories. However, my family’s greatest bond is our love of cinema. So, incorporating a few trips to the movie theater into the itinerary was a must. Unfortunately, with the theater industry being one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, it was no surprise that my family and I were often the only moviegoers present, even with the world reopening and making its slow return to “normalcy.” Not surprising since the closing of movie houses helped streaming services reign supreme during a most unprecedented time in history. I personally missed the regular Friday night treks to a physical movie theater, smelling fresh popcorn wafting through the lobby, and being placed in the middle of the action courtesy of IMAX-sized screens and Dolby stereo sounds. Because of this, I am whole-heartedly committed to returning to the theaters despite the simplicity and accessibility streaming allowed us, for I’m wise enough to know joy is not always about ease, but often about a full experience. And the moviegoing experience is one I’m ready to embrace again. So, if you’re like me, enjoy this list of blockbusters coming to a big screen near you soon (even if they show up simultaneously on your streaming apps).

Zola – June 30th 

When I first read the premise for the Janicza Bravo-directed "Zola," I recall having a déjà vu moment of “Why have I heard this story before?” It’s because I and million others had, courtesy of a viral 148 tweet-thread that A'ziah "Zola" Wells King had posted in 2015, recounting her tale as a waitress who meets a sex worker and embarks on a wild cross-country adventure. Almost everyone agreed it sounded like something out of a movie; it’s no doubt Bravo felt the same, prompting her to rush to her agent and manager for advice on next steps on how to make it so. And as they say, the rest is history. Or, better yet, the rest is one of the most anticipated movie drops of the year. Starring Taylour Paige (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) and Riley Keough (“The Lodge”), the noir dramedy follows Zola who meets sex worker Stefani at a restaurant where Zola works and where the two immediately bond, leading to an impromptu two-day cross-country road trip to Florida that finds the two of them, along with Stefani's lovesick boyfriend, caught in a tangled web of madness that involves strip clubs, seedy hotels, unwelcoming locals, and a pimp named "X."   See trailer here

Summer of Soul (Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) – July 2nd 

Some movies are just too powerful to not be seen on the big screen. Although streaming on Hulu as well, you’ll want the full concert experience of The Root’s Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson’s directorial debut, “Summer of Soul (Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised”). As the 2021 Sundance Film Festival moved to a virtual platform earlier this year, I had the pleasure of seeing the release on its opening night and it did not disappoint. As Thompson recounted in a recent Essence July/August 2021 issue, when producers David Dinerstein and Robert Fyvolent told him about archival footage they’d stumbled upon of a 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival that rivaled Woodstock and, in fact, took place mere months before over a period of six weeks, Thompson called B.S., stating there was no way such greatness had occurred that there would be no record of. Oh, there was record of it; sadly, it was all sitting in the basement of late filmmaker Hal Tulchin’s home, all but forgotten after his many attempts to shop it for distribution failed due to “lack of interest.” Thompson, reluctant of being handed such a treasure, hesitated to get involved with the project. But, after seeing a snippet of footage, knew bringing it to light would be one of his greatest callings. The roster of artists who appear in 'Soul' are too long to list and their performances too astounding to be captured in words. All I’ll say is this: the 117-minute concert documentary features a young Stevie Wonder—on drums. Thank me later. See trailer here.

Respect – August 13th 

The Queen of Soul has been getting a lot of, well, respect the past year from Cynthia Erivo’s portrayal of the superstar in "Genius: Aretha" to the soon-to-be released biopic, “Respect” starring Academy and Grammy-award winner Jennifer Hudson (“Dreamgirls”) as Franklin; Academy-award winner Forest Whitaker (“Black Panther”) as Franklin’s father, C.L. and, in his first big screen dramatic role, Marlon Wayans (“White Chicks”) as Franklin’s first husband Ted White. Directed by Liesl Tommy, the movie's star power alone is guaranteed to make 'Respect' a winner, especially since the late Franklin herself endorsed Hudson to best portray her, but also because much of Franklin’s personal life remained somewhat of a mystery, leaving fans to use all the joy, hurt, and pain she delivered in her songs as the only tiny glimpse into her world. What Franklin never kept from her fans, however, was her soul. Neither does Hudson. And if Hudson’s tour de force performance in Dreamgirls is just a prequel to what we can expect her to deliver in 'Respect,' “ain’t no way” it won’t be a hit. See trailer here

Candyman – August 27th 

You already know not to say it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see it…. Let’s face it: the original 1992 Candyman (and its subsequent two follow-ups) didn’t, as the young folks would say, “give what it was supposed to have gave.” Sure, it gave us a fair share of jumpy moments but there’s a whole different fear factor level anticipated whenever Jordan Peele adds his name to a project. As the writer of this fourth installment, Peele and director Nia DaCosta's revamped version of Candyman merges morality and macabre as Chicago artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, “Watchmen”; “Us”), now residing in the infamous, yet gentrified, Cabrini Green neighborhood, is told about the horrific history of Candyman and the Cabrini Green Towers. Looking to revitalize his flagging career, McCoy decides to incorporate the legend and images of his destruction into his artistry, unknowingly awakening Candyman and sending him on murderous new streak. We all know chanting Candyman’s name five times leads to doom. Here's hoping Peele’s offering, after several lackluster attempts, will revive the legend in a more "positive" way. Also starring Vanessa Estelle Williams (“Soul Food”) reprising her role in the original film. See trailer here

The Harder They Fall - late 2021

Not since 1993’s Mario Van Peebles-directed “Posse” has a Black western been as highly anticipated as this year’s forthcoming "The Harder They Fall" directed by Jeymes Samuel, who co-wrote the screenplay with Boaz Yakin. 'Harder's" chamber is locked and loaded with the best in Black Hollywood including Jonathan Majors (“Lovecraft Country”), Idris Elba (“The Wire”; “Luther”), Zazie Beetz and LaKeith Stanfield (both of FX’s “Atlanta”), Delroy Lindo (“Da 5 Bloods”) and Regina King (“Watchmen”). Need I say more? Okay, if I must, here's a little bit of a plot drop to lasso you in: Major portrays real life African-American cowboy and former slave, Nat Love, who reassembles his former gang to seek revenge against the man who murdered his parents. Love’s real-life exploits have made him one of the most famous black heroes of the Old West. Saddle up and head to a theater near you. Note: 'Harder' is scheduled for a Fall 2021 Netflix release but may be available in theaters as well. See trailer here.

That’s it for now, my fellow cinephiles. May each of you continue to stay safe and return to indulging in those things that bring you joy! See you in the lobby after the movie….

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