Archive for the ‘African-American’ Category

Riverdale: Season 2

May 24, 2018

Spoiler alert: What a crazy, messed up, hodgepodge show Riverdale became in Season 2. All sense of reality and cohesion went out the window. Co-workers bailed on it. I continued each week (on The CW app with commercials – ugh!) shocked at just how ridiculous the series veered off-course. Season 1 set it up to be this cool high school hipster cozy mystery series. Season 2 jumped off a cliff and never looked back. Somehow I continued to love and hate many of the characters. Those who annoyed me in the first season, continued their plague. And those I loved never got enough screen time. WTF happened to Josie and Kevin? Finally in the last episode, Kevin’s make-out with Moose happened. But if felt too little too late. Are there too many characters? Is Archie’s hair too artificially orange? Is Veronica really in high school? Does Betty’s Mom remind me of a character on Twin Peaks? So many questions, so little time with so many characters and plot lines begging for attention. I hated the Serpents. I loved Kevin’s Dad. I hated Betty’s’s Dad, I loved Betty’s Mom. I found Chic to be creepy which I suppose was the point. I have no idea whether I will watch Season 3. If this were on HBO and a bit more adult, it might be fun. But the golly shucks, there’s another dead body vibe wears thin after a while. 3 out of 5 for Riverdale because I did make it to the end.


Dear White People: Season 2

May 18, 2018

I love the complexity of the Netflix series, Dear White People. It uses the fearless quality of a college student to describe the insanity of the world we inhabit. A world where many people don’t seem to care about anything but themselves. Dear White People isn’t afraid to put it all up in our face. And I’m grateful for that. It’s also very funny. I watched the first 3 episodes of Season 2. I love Sam and her inability to focus in episode 1. Episode 2 explores how much things have not changed on college campuses over the decades. And episode 3 shows us how awkward Lionel can be trying to get his gay groove on. For some reason I lost interest. Not because the show isn’t great. It is. Maybe I’m just not in the mood for college angst. 3 out of 5 for this topical and underrated show.

Black Panther (Blu-ray)

May 12, 2018

I’m glad I didn’t go see Black Panther in the theater. I’m thrilled an African-American superhero film made so much money and got such praise. That said, this is not the first time I will say I am simply not the target audience for these films. They are as formulaic as an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical. They remind me of the serials my Dad used to tell me he went to every weekend when he was a kid. Marvel rules this genre no doubt. For me, a steady diet of special effects, pretty costumes, superpowers, car chases, fights where lots of people are killed and potential world annihilation bores me to tears. I give this a 3 out of 5 not because I liked it – I made it to the 49 minute mark. Because it’s good for the genre. And I realize I’m in the minority. Would I give it up for a gay superhero? Honestly I doubt it. These films continue to be a snoozefest for me.

Strong Island

April 5, 2018

Oscar-nominated documentary, Strong Island packs a mean social justice punch in all the right places. Filmmaker Yance Ford takes us on her family’s 20 year journey of grief over the murder of her brother William. Through Ford’s clear, calm, and gentle eye, we witness her mother’s grief, her sister’s grief, her brother’s grief, and her own questioning of a world where black men are expendable and best forgotten. Strong Island can be hard to watch, but it’s message is crucial reminding us of how much work is left to make the world safe and available to every human being. The intimacy queer filmmaker Ford creates becomes a testament to her continual attempt to make sense of her brother’s death. Or perhaps simply to discover understanding in the details. Heart breaking and necessary. 5 out of 5 for Strong Island.

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami – Extended trailer

March 27, 2018

The new Grace Jones documentary, Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami got an extended trailer release from Kino Lorber. Watch it on YouTube.

From Kino Lorber,

Coming to North American theaters starting April 13:

This electrifying journey through the public and private worlds of pop culture mega-icon Grace Jones contrasts musical sequences with intimate personal footage, all the while brimming with Jones’s bold aesthetic. A larger-than-life entertainer, an androgynous glam-pop diva, an unpredictable media presence – Grace Jones is all these things and more. Sophie Fiennes’s documentary goes beyond the traditional music biography, offering a portrait as stylish and unconventional as its subject. Taking us home with her to Jamaica, into the studio with long-time collaborators Sly & Robbie, and backstage at gigs around the world, the film reveals Jones as lover, daughter, mother, and businesswoman. But the stage is the fixed point to which the film returns, with eye-popping performances of “Slave to the Rhythm,” “Pull Up to the Bumper,” “Love is the Drug,” and more. Jones herself has said watching the film “will be like seeing me almost naked” and, indeed, Fiennes’s treatment is every bit as definition-defying as its subject, untamed by either age or life itself.

Seven Seconds

March 26, 2018

I watched the first three episodes of Seven Seconds, the new Netflix series about an African-American child who is accidentally killed by a white police officer. This happens in the first few minutes of the series, so it’s set-up, not spoiler alert. There’s been buzz over Seven Seconds from co-workers, neighbors, and family so I watched one episode on the train going to Philly last week and two more with my niece Lauren during the snowstorm. I wanted to love Seven Seconds, but I found it flat. The family affected by the death worked well. The police officers not so much. They read stereotypical and too many scenes took the easy way out producing simple instead of complicated plots. Too bad, I really like Regina and King and Raul Castillo (Looking). 2 out of 5. Next.

The Deuce: Season 1

February 28, 2018

David Simon‘s (The Wire, Treme) new HBO series, The Deuce released on disk this past week. Simon’s series offers a gritty, heady, intelligent look at NYC’s sex trade during the birth of the porn industry. The Deuce starts out quietly. The huge signature ensemble cast features street hookers, pimps, police, bar owners, college students, journalists, and young gay men all discovering their lives weaving in and around the sex industry of the early 1970’s. Simon takes his time showing us the changing landscape of business and pleasure in one of the world’s most outrageous neighborhoods. Costuming, props, set design, hair and make-up are all so spot-on, you’d swear you were thrust back in time to the post-hippie era when free love could come for anyone at a price and women and queers were beginning to feel their power. The city was still run by criminals, but other voices are beginning to be heard. Stellar acting from Maggie Gyllenhaal, luminous in the pivotal role of Candy. James Franco plays double duty as twins Vincent who’s smart and a hard worker and Frankie who’s proud of being a fuck-up. I hate to say this after all the posing Franco’s done over the years but damn that boy can act. The Deuce features Gbenga Akinnagbe (The Wire), Gary Carr (Downton Abbey), Dominique Fishback (as my heart Darlene), Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (The Wire), Margarita Levieva, Emily Meade, Method Man, Kayla Foster, Don Harvey, Chris Bauer (The Wire, True Blood), Chris Coy (Treme), Natalie Paul, Michael Rispoli, Kim Director, Pernell Walker (Ruby!), Tariq Trotter, and Ralph Macchio (yes, him). Told you it was an ensemble. Chris Coy plays quiet, sexy, out and proud Paul with dignity and mischief. Everyone fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. The Deuce moves slow and steady through the subtle changes which affected the avalanche of what has become a 97 billion dollar industry. David Simon gives due respect to the industry’s beginnings and the characters who made it all happen. 4 out of 5 for The Deuce.

Before Moonlight: 10 films that celebrate the African American LGBT experience (LGBTQ Nation)

February 23, 2018

Great list from LGBTQ Nation featuring ten fantastic films celebrating the African-American LGBT experience. I’ve seen 9 out of 10. The only reason why I haven’t seen them all is I’m waiting for Saturday Church to come out on DVD. I’ve ordered a copy for the library’s collection. Seven are stellar films in their own right and I’d mark them as classics:

The Watermelon Woman – Cheryl Dunye’s indie masterpiece
Moonlight – Oscar finally got something right
PariahMudbound‘s Dee Rees’ debut film
Tongues Untied Marlon Riggs’ late 80’s doc on gay, black men
Brother to Brother – Anthony Mackie’s breakout performance
Looking for Langston – Isaac Julian’s love story to the Harlem Renaissance
Tangerine – Trans women of color in a film shot on an iPhone.

Looking for Langston – Isaac Julian (1989)

Richard Pryor and Marlon Brando Sitting in a Tree

February 11, 2018

Have you heard the gossip? Supposedly Richard Pryor and Marlon Brando slept together. Yes, full-on gay sex. You would think in 2018, this could be viewed as no big deal. Just another affair in the lives of Hollywood men. Instead the quotes from music producer Quincy Jones who started the conversation and Pryor’s widow confirm we are definitely not living in a post-gay world. The patriarchy still wants to get off to two hot women together while simultaneously retching over two men. Pay attention to the words in these quotes:

from Quincy Jones via HuffPost,

[Marlon] “Brando the actor and Jones were longtime friends. During a down period in Jones’s life, he spent time on the island in Tahiti which Brando owned. The two called each other Leroy, owing to a story recounted extremely well (one among many) in this recent GQ profile. used to go cha-cha dancing with us. He could dance his ass off. He was the most charming motherfucker you ever met. He’d fuck anything. Anything! He’d fuck a mailbox. James Baldwin. Richard Pryor. Marvin Gaye.”

And this from Pryor’s widow Jennifer Lee Pryor in Vulture,

“It was the ’70s!” she said. “Drugs were still good, especially quaaludes. If you did enough cocaine, you’d fuck a radiator and send it flowers in the morning.”

Do any of the following words or phrases sound like they are from a person who lives in a society which respects male/male relationships as much as it does male/female?

“He’d fuck anything.”
“He’s fuck a mailbox. James Baldwin. Richard Pryor. Marvin Gaye.”
“If you did enough cocaine, you’d fuck a radiator…”

Thanks for equating gay male sex to having sex with a mailbox or a radiator. Guess real men have to be pretty desperate or extremely horny to have sex with other men.

Are some men bisexual or fluid? Of course they are. Are some men situationally ok being intimate with men? Yes. Do some men enjoy the company of other men when there is alcohol or other intoxicants around? You bet. That still doesn’t give people the right to dehumanize gay male sexuality. Men and women can experiment all they want. And they can determine who they want to be in relationships with and who they want to just fool around with. People do that all the time. At the end of the day, I hope most of us are living our lives respecting each other no matter what the circumstances. Sex can be fun, it can be a release, it can be an escape. It can also be something deeply connected to a committed relationship. Let’s try to respect everyone’s orientations, choices and decisions and not frame their experiences as less than or other. We are all in this together.






Insecure: Season 1

February 4, 2018

Watched the first three episodes of Issa Rae’s Insecure (HBO) this weekend. Enjoyed the writing and wit. She explores the intersections of race and gender in Los Angeles beautifully. Certainly not an easy thing being a woman of color in our culture. Smart stories and natural acting from the cast. Created by Rae and Larry Wilmore. Premise revolves around a 29 year-old African-American woman who’s still single (although living with her boyfriend), no children, and working for a non-profit. She’s ambivalent about her life choices. Makes for a good jumping off point. In the end, the all 20-something cast didn’t interest me. That’s certainly not a slight on the quality of Rae’s Insecure. I’m simply at an age where I’m more interested in older, complicated characters. 3.5 out of 5.

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