if beale street could talk: movie review

this novel is fresh in my mind because i read it this year; my first time reading a james baldwin novel.  within the first 5 minutes of the film, i was already in tears. i was so glad i picked up a couple of napkins laid out on a table in front of the state theater at lincoln square. the silence, the loving stares, the beautiful colors beckoned me to freeze each frame just to linger a little longer. i can’t wait to take screenshots of every frame in order to adorn my laptop. i came in with preconceived theories about the direction and how the storytelling would be approached. for some reason, i didn’t think the narration style would translate well from the novel to the screen. barry jenkins made the right choice.  the acting was superb. they didn’t have to say anything. they could have gazed into each other’s eyes for 2 hours and it would have been time well spent.

there is a sex scene. well, it’s more like a lovemaking scene and it was tastefully done. the man sitting next to me chuckled when he heard me whisper ‘yes yes yes yes’ and ‘my god’ at the visual of dark-skinned beautiful skin expressing love. thank you, barry jenkins. i didn’t know how much i needed to see that on screen. i’m almost certain i’ve never seen a lovemaking scene with black people quite as honest, intense and tender. the only one i can think of that may come close is the sex scene in ‘love & basketball’. i can’t put into words how affirming it is to see dark-skinned people loving on each other.

even given all this beauty, i still left the theater a little angry. i wasn’t angry because i didn’t enjoy my time with this film; i enjoyed every minute. i was angry because it’s a guarantee there are countless stories similar to fonny and tish’s experience. this is not fiction. i think of all the untold stories of dreams halted, love put on hold, creations unable to see the light of day, with an ugly stain on a love story. somewhere in our history, someone with man-made power used it to snuff the life out of what was perceived to be less than, not human. it broke my heart to see fonny’s beautiful existence handled with no respect, beat down by the “justice” system working in the way it was created to work. the narrator’s sweet voice interjected like the constant interference of those in power reminding us why this young couple could not love in the way they deserved to love, with no boundaries. i may have one critique, but it’s not even worth mentioning. it’s a 5-star film receiving 3 golden globes nomination before its release date. take your love to see it. i took myself and i will be taking myself again. 

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Insecure HBO: Season 3 Finale Review

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some more thoughts on the Insecure Season 3 finale:

-putting my disdain for the Molly character aside.. Taurean has some BIG nerve to be in his feelings because when he was taking up all the space in the room and was on top he didn’t give two shits about anybody else.. he had no problem using Molly’s help to prop himself up. now that he has to share the spotlight with Molly he runs away. he really fixed his face to call Molly aggressive when he previously talked over her like she wasn’t even speaking. boy bye!
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-i hate how Molly treated the women in her office.. she used them until she found something she coveted more and dropped them like a bad habit. I see Molly crashing very very soon when she looks around to realize she can’t do it all alone. even the most successful need a team.

-is Andrew willing to forgive Molly for her horrible behavior and move on? i hope so. i would love to see how their connection develops. Molly needs something and i’m wondering if Andrew is that something.

-honey, Jared looked like a whole snack. and, Molly’s judgmental malfunctioning gaydar was SO off.. ugh! why is she like that? i just loved seeing her face when Jared rolled up there with his brother and his girlfriend. HA!
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-for the first time, i felt like Molly truly tried to protect Issa when Nanceford pranced his tired ass up to Issa’s apartment with those day old flowers.. she should have told Issa though..

-sometimes when i squint, i can see Issa’s growth but other times i’m shaking my head in disbelief of her pure immaturity.. i love the way she handled Nanceford and his vague ass none answer to how he seriously hurt her feelings disappearing like that .. again, this man NEVER answers a question .. NEVER . she really handled Molly very well standing up for herself and letting her know she didn’t appreciate her not telling her dude came by. and, it really looked like Molly paid attention. Issa also gave Molly good advice concerning Taurean. Issa gets it right sometimes. she seriously played therapist and was spot on.

-how cool is it to see Issa and Lawrence truly being friends?! i love it. i just love how Lawrence is so giddy around her. he can’t stop smiling. hopefully, they don’t try to get back together and mess up the beautiful reconnection they are making. it wasn’t missed on me that Lawrence finally got it right. he remembered Issa’s birthday this time.
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-i peeped how they put black girl magic on display and how we often support each other.  sometimes, the friends closest to you can’t support you in the way you need. a new friend can be a refreshing addition. “the last dragon” is on my top 5 greatest movies of all time list. i really enjoyed that. Condola is a keeper for that.

-Kelli still annoys me. she is so one dimensional. of course, she is overly aggressive with men, cringe worthy comic relief, and just overall over the top concerning everything with that ponytail at the top of her head .. it was so not flattering.. ugh
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-i don’t want to like Chad but i do. judge me. i know i deserve it because he is a whole mess.. but, he is honest. i like that and i want to see more of him.

-the moment Lawrence shared with his father was awesome. i want to know more about him and his backstory. hopefully, they will open up and give the other characters some backstory time as well. Lawrence’s father is right. this generation doesn’t want to work, me included. we want instant gratification.

-i will be lifting up the Issa in prayer. we are hoping she is ready to show growth when she finds out Condola and Lawrence are dating. it could get messy but let’s just send some positive vibes Issa’s way.

-again, the music is always on point. i caught that “come together’ joint by the internet. Owww! loves it! i discovered some really nice new artitsts/songs this season. Raphael Saadiq and the music team is doing a great job matching the right songs with the right scenes.

-even though i talk shit about this show, i love it and i’m gonna miss it. i love that Insecure is so “blackass”, said in my Jill Scott voice. we need more. 10-12 episodes would have been sweet. but, hey.. they have already been approved for season 4. we must be patient.
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‘Praise Song for the Butterflies’ Review

71c5TOjcPSLI am interested and devoted to all things from the continent of Africa. I find myself watching video after video on youtube concerning all things African. I love to watch videos about the different cultures, languages, practices. I get knowledge from travel vlogs, documentaries, and videos from native Africans speaking about their home. This book is exactly what I needed. It shined a light on to a ritual that is merely male serving and evil. I learned about the ritual servitude/slavery that is trokosi last year and it broke my heart. These rituals always seem to involve a girl/woman giving her very life for the idea of luck or idea of being able to evade bad luck. It gives those that practice this ritual the idea that the sacrifice of someone’s life for the betterment of others is the only way to stop the so-called ‘bad luck’. To me, sacrifice is a personal commitment, not the idea of offering up another person’s life. Sacrifice your OWN life.  It’s always interesting to me when people think they can romance karma’s retreat. This book takes you on a journey to see how this practice trokosi ravished lives but at the same time helped others find their purpose. This is a story about forgiveness. This is also a story about pure evil left unchecked. This is a story about the centuries of hatred toward black girls/women bodies and how they are used as footstools in many cultures. This is also a story about how your very own family can be the authors of your darkest hour.

Trokosi is mainly practiced in Ghana, Benin, and Togo. Aside from being a black woman who has given birth to a black girl, learning about this practice personally touches me because these countries are in my DNA. Benin, Togo, and Ghana show up being the highest percentages in my DNA makeup according to ancestrydna.com. I can’t help but wonder if any of my ancestors shared similar experiences as the young girls in this book. Ms. McFadden did a great job describing the mind of a young child and how evil creeps in to shift their perception forever. She shines a light on how lies, even little white ones, can destroy someone’s entire world. The theme of guilt is very strong in this story as well. You are able to see how everyone seemed to carry guilt in different ways. She captured the purest heart of a child. Tears were shed. Tears were shed not just due to the pain displayed but also the hope you will find in this book. If you are triggered by the mistreatment of children/women, approach this book while giving yourself self-care and take your time.

I believe in life and all that represents. I’m not really sure if I believe in bad luck or good luck. I won’t deny often wondering if this so-called bad luck has taken hold over parts of my life. However, I believe life and bad/good luck should not be used interchangeably. Life can often look like tides at sea. Sometimes gifts are brought in through the tide and other times hard lessons. Its ever moving, ever changing, ever evolving. It is up to us to constantly adjust to how we react to said life. Sometimes there are calming ripples and other times the waves of life will try to rip you apart. Yet, you still manage to find a reason to smile in the midst of it all. This is a story about how Abeo’s life was turned upside down because life happened and someone else decided she had to pay with her innocence. It’s touching, honest, and painful. It’s all the things life is made of.

Plots Fired

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Love & Basketball scene, tweet taken from tumblr. as you can see this is not my tweet.

Okay. I know the title is corny. I had to. I found the above tweet circulating on tumblr. This post happened as a result.

I still got mad love for Ms. Gina Prince-Bythewood, director/writer. She redeemed herself in my eyes with “Beyond the Lights”. I understand that Nate Parker is cancelled. So, I will spare you my critique. I understand that some of us are not able to compartmentalize certain personal issues with the artists from the art. However, if you are interested, I wrote a little review about “Beyond the Lights” a few years ago if you are interested.

 

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Gina Prince-Brythewood

‘Love & Basketball’ came out in the year 2000. And, so did “Disappearing Acts”.. we all know the disaster that was. 🤨 That movie had me looking at my crush, at the time, with the side eye, Wesley Snipes. I loved that man so much that I started dating (I say that loosely) a guy I thought looked just like him. In her defense, “Disappearing Acts” was based on a Terry McMillan novel. So, it really wasn’t her fault. Even within that story there were such tender intimate moments. Now, the cluster fuck that was “Love & Basketball”.. hated almost everything about it. I think I heard the characters of “Love & Basketball” were based on a real couple. Not sure how true that is. The movie made me feel so uncomfortable; squirming in my seat uncomfortable. The movie made us look at some issues concerning love we don’t like to look at intently. For that, I respect her so much. One of the things I didn’t hate was Meshell Ndegeocello’s song ‘You Made a Fool of Me” that played in the background during that last scene. Well, the song was indeed placed accurately. No?

 

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Shots Fired – Hour Eight: Rock Bottom (Stephan James, Sanaa Lathan)

I love Gina’s fearlessness as she displays some of the ugliness of our humanity in a beautiful authentic way. All of these stories need to be told. Yes, even the ugly ones. We need more willing brave artists to tell honest, raw, gutterbutt, lovely stories. I see you, Lena Waithe. She is also amazing.

 

Anyway, I forgave Gina. “Shots Fired” was a pleasant surprise. We cool now. You know what I love about her style.. she writes some of the most beautiful love scenes you will ever see; even in “Love & Basketball”. Writing/directing love scenes is a very difficult endeavor. She does it so well. Check out the love scene in “Shots Fired” if you are into that kind of thing. It was steamy HOT, real intimacy. People tend to turn their noses up at romantic stories/storylines. It takes as much skill to execute a love scene as it does a fight scene; just a skill of another kind. I was also here for that cute young tender, Mack Wilds, loving on that dark skin sista who played his wife. Loved it! Just read somewhere that Gina helped write the screenplay for “Nappily Ever After”. I will be there. Lastly, don’t forget to check out “The Secret Life of Bees”.  Good stuff. Overall, Gina can tell a story that will move you. That is a promise. Like they say, “you get what you bring”.

“she’s gotta have it” short & sweet review

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so, I really wanted to like “she’s gotta have it” on Netflix. but, I should have known I wouldn’t like it because I hated the movie. the corniness of spike lee’s satire and his over the top approach concerning serious topics has always rubbed me the wrong way. all the men are totally ridiculous. they all gave me gay vibes and it was so distracting watching them do ‘i love pussy’ gymnastics trying to be convincing. greer? mars? mars, my G?? come on now. who would even believe that craziness?! not I! the writing was painful. the acting? look, Dewanda Wise is frikkin’ awesome to me and she is absolutely stunning. she did the best she could with the material she was given. i made it to episode 3.

in conclusion: I hated it!

1 star out of 5

“Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi: Book Review

 

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UK book cover

 

I decided to finish reading the last couple of pages of this book at work during my extended lunch break. And, now I’m in tears. This book took me on an emotional roller coaster. Given the racial climate here in the states, “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi was almost too much for me to bear. At times, I had to put the book down to catch my breath. Homegoing is about two sisters with very different journeys on two different continents. One sister, Effia,  was married off to a British slave master while the other sister, Esi, was sold into slavery forcing her to brave the middle passage. We go on a journey from the Ghana coast to the Harlem concrete.

Each chapter was from the point of view from a family member from each half sister’s lineage. Yaa Gyasi really delves into how everyone played a part in the slave trade; the British, missionaries, and the Africans. I cringed as people were forced into slavery so easily due to any battle lost. Sometimes I wonder if things would have been different if the Africans knew of the horrors their people would face in America. Even though this book spoke of the degradation of slavery, each chapter was also peppered with beautiful sad love stories. I learned many things about the British and how they interacted with the African people. They often married the local women while on the coast to do their slave trading business because they were away from their homes for long periods of time. I also learned about how superstitious Africans were and how those ideas can shape someone’s life into a nightmare. Marriage was also an important theme in this book. I got a clear understanding of how marriage was approached back in the 18 century and how it changed throughout the generations.

My only gripe with this book, along with many others, is that it’s not long enough. I needed more details about the lives of each character. Basically, Yaa Gyasi left us wanting more. The love of Kojo and Anna was the most beautiful and tragic of them all. This couple deserves a book all their own. I was amazed at the strength of the characters. I often wondered if I were put in these situations if I would have survived. Would I still be able to love? I’m still not sure. This book is as beautiful as it’s UK book cover. I give it 5 stars out of 5.

“The Underground Railroad” Book Review

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Life almost made the completion of this read impossible. I was supposed to read this book for Diverse-A-Thon, but it didn’t make it. “The New Edition Story” 3-night miniseries happened and I went down memory lane which took me away from my reading.

Colson Whitehead takes the idea of the underground railroad, which are pathways with safe houses to aide slaves helping them to enter free states, and makes it into an actual underground railroad. Each destination of the underground railroad revealed a different world racially. Certain states were more accepting of blacks escaping than others. This story follows a slave, Cora, in her perseverance to gain freedom from slavery. Cora’s determination for freedom is as relentless as the slave catcher’s desire to capture her to return her to bondage. It seemed that every time Cora started to relax, her past reached out to pull her back to slavery. Along her journey to freedom we are introduced to many characters. Abolitionists and sympathizers along the way were also treated as subhuman if they were caught harboring slaves.

I walked away from this book thinking about freedom. What is freedom? Does attaining freedom bring about danger due to its ability to precipitate contentment? Do you still have freedom if there are people willing and able to take it away? Is freedom a state of mind or a tangible destination?  It was amazing to me how preoccupied white people in antebellum south were with keeping track of black people. Slave catchers were willing to travel thousands of miles to bring slaves back to their owners. How far are you willing to go to acquire freedom?

“Whether in the fields or underground or in an attic room, America remained her warden.” The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

The writing was very graphic at times, and it should be given the content. To be honest, I felt that the book could have been longer. Many vloggers and bloggers have spoken of the coldness of the narrator. And, I agree. Overall, I really enjoyed this read. I gave this book 4 stars out of 5.