Herself Passes

When Sandra (Clare Dunne) escapes her abusive partner with her two young children, finding a home to call their own seems impossible. After months of struggling, she draws inspiration from one of her daughter’s bedtime stories and hits upon the idea of self-building an affordable home. She finds an architect who provides her with plans and is offered land by Peggy (Harriet Walter), a woman she cleans for. Aido (Conleth Hill), a building contractor, appears willing to help, too. But as her past rears its head in the form of Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson), her possessive ex, and as bureaucrats fight back against her independent spirit, will Sandra be able to rebuild her life from the ground up?

Movie Scene Queen is hosting an advance screening of Amazon Studios’ Herself on Wednesday, January 6, 2020 at 7 PM. Please join us! To secure your tickets, please visit: http://amazonscreenings.com/HerselfPitts

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

Jamie Foxx delivers in ‘Soul’; Film Evokes The Importance of Purpose and Passion

Death is a raw, touchy subject, especially now more than ever.

There are zero degrees of separation when identifying someone you know or love who has been affected by the coronavirus.

Death is also typically a conversation had amongst adults, so when Kemp Powers, Mike Jones and Pete Docter decided to create an animation film about life’s finale, I was more than skeptical.

But after 100 minutes of tear-jerking, feet-tapping, life-thinking reactions, I can proclaim that “Soul” is one of the best things this crazy year has produced.

Ironically, with the many people we have lost during this global pandemic, the movie is a sweet reminder about the true meaning of life, love and finding your purpose.

Pixar finally presents its first feature film with an African American leading role. Academy Award-winner Jamie Foxx lends his voice talents for Joe Gardner, a jazz enthusiast and music teacher whose soul gets separated from his body right before the biggest gig of his life.

“Soul,” like jazz music, is beautiful, smooth and a delightful keepsake of both time and life.

“You already have a pretty fantastic life and sometimes that’s hard to see,” said “Soul” writer and director Pete Docter in a roundtable discussion hosted by the African American Film Critics Association.

Docter told me that when he’s on his death bed, he’s not going to be thinking about finishing the film on time or making sure it’s under budget, but Docter, Pixar’s chief creative officer, wants to reflect upon “family friends, and…everyday moments that I could easily take for granted.”

“I hope that people will have a gratitude for what they have.”

Out of all the undertones that resonated in “Soul,” the idea of purpose lingered at the top of the list. As Joe Gardner seeks to live for his love of jazz, we, too, crave to fulfill our destiny and walk in our purpose even though at times we seem to live aimlessly. If anything, life’s true purpose is the fuel to taking full advantage of your time here on Earth.

That is some deep stuff for a kids movie.

For the full review, please visit The New Pittsburgh Courier, Jamie Foxx delivers in ‘Soul’

Greenland Passes

A family fights for survival as a planet-killing comet races to Earth. John Garrity (Gerard Butler), his estranged wife Allison (Morena Baccarin), and young son Nathan make a perilous journey to their only hope for sanctuary. Amid terrifying news accounts of cities around the world being leveled by the comet’s fragments, the Garrity’s experience the best and worst in humanity while they battle the increasing panic and lawlessness surrounding them. As the countdown to global apocalypse approaches zero, their incredible trek culminates in a desperate and last-minute flight to a possible safe haven.

Movie Scene Queen is hosting a virtual screening on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 7:30 PM. Please visit the following link for tickets:

http://stxtickets.com/tStKM93554

When visiting the link, you’ll register, claim your passes for the virtual screening, and then, you will receive an email confirmation. About one hour before the screening, you’ll get an email to check-in and reserve your spot. Please “arrive” early as “seating” is technically first come, first serve and it may sell out!

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

Songbird Passes

Four years into quarantine the virus has changed and so have we…

In the terrifying thriller SONGBIRD , the COVID-23 virus has mutated and the world is in its fourth year of lockdown. Infected Americans are ripped from their homes and forced into quarantine camps known as Q-Zones, from which there is no escape, as a few brave souls fight back against the forces of oppression. Amid this dystopian landscape, a fearless courier, Nico (KJ Apa), who’s immune to the deadly pathogen, finds hope and love with Sara (Sofia Carson), though her lockdown prohibits them from physical contact. When Sara is believed to have become infected, Nico races desperately across the barren streets of Los Angeles in search of the only thing that can save her from imprisonment … or worse.

The first feature film to be made during COVID-19 in Los Angeles, and about the pandemic itself, SONGBIRD also stars Bradley Whitford and Demi Moore as a wealthy couple who may hold the key to Nico’s mission; Alexandra Daddario as a singer enmeshed in a messy and forbidden affair; Paul Walter Hauser as a disabled veteran whose best friend – a drone named Max – is his eyes and ears to a world that has left him behind; Craig Robinson as Nico’s boss; and Peter Stormare as the corrupt head of the city’s “sanitation” department, which seizes those infected and transports them to the Q-Zone.

Movie Scene Queen is hosting a virtual screening on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 at 7:30 PM. Grab your friends and family to gather for this exclusive movie event:

https://stxtickets.com/main/movie_landing/WkZqQ1I2NDE4Mg%3D%3D

When visiting the link, you’ll register, claim your passes for the virtual screening, and then, you will receive an email confirmation. About one hour before the screening, you’ll get an email to check-in and reserve your spot. Please “arrive” early as “seating” is technically first come, first served and it may sell out!

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

My review of ‘coronavirus’—Zero Stars! Two Thumbs Down!

According to the Allegheny County Health Department, there were 19,499 cases of COVID-19 in Allegheny County as of Nov. 14.

Well, I guess I make case number 19,500.

I will miss Thanksgiving with my family. I will miss getting dressed up to hang at my mom’s house, cracking jokes, and in the words of Uncle Phil, “Turkey with pillowy mounds of mashed potatoes, butter-drenched dressing. Tiny onions! Swimming in a sea of cream sauce.”

What about my cousin’s tradition of Black Friday shopping at the North Versailles Walmart? Last year, I almost clotheslined a woman for jipping the long line in an attempt to get a $98 flat screen TV.

All of those annual family traditions go right out of the window when the world’s deadliest virus is knocking on my doorstep. Who am I kidding? Coronavirus kicked in my door without a warrant and plopped right on my couch.

I don’t know where or from whom I contracted coronavirus, but I am fully aware of its path of destruction and the victims it has so carelessly left behind.

Since the pandemic started, I went straight into Power Ranger mode—the pink one, to be exact. I said to myself, “I can make a difference during these difficult times.” So, to date, I rescued over 600 pounds of food and delivered 518 meals with 412 Food Rescue, distributed 500 pairs of shoes to local children, supplied more than 8,000 students with bookbags and school supplies, and turned a typically small harvest party into a Homewood giveaway.

Ironically, with movie theaters closed, this pandemic has been good to your Movie Scene Queen, too. In April, we raised over $2,000 to provide immediate cash assistance to single parents. We became a registered trademark in August. Movie Scene Queen joined the African American Film Critics Association, creating a space to interview Spike Lee, Issa Rae, Nia Long, Jamie Foxx, Denzel Washington, and others.

All I want to do is help people, and now, I need to help myself. I am hoping and praying that in 14 days I am COVID-free, and equally important, I wish upon a star that I do not spread the virus to anyone I know and love.

Read more at the New Pittsburgh Courier, My review of ‘coronavirus’—Zero Stars! Two Thumbs Down!

Sophie Okonedo successfully tackles mental illness in Netflix’s ‘Ratched’

Typically, when Netflix audiences flock to social media with recommendations, I am skeptical, if not apprehensive, to tune in. But the memes and Facebook statuses twisted my arm into watching Netflix’s newest series, “Ratched.”

After all the posts I stumbled across, I was interested in one particular person, Sophie Okonedo.

The 52-year-old actress plays a patient, Charlotte Wells, who is suffering from multiple personality disorder. Based on Nurse Ratched in Ken Kesey’s novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Ratched” follows a wacked-out nurse (Sarah Paulson) who terrorizes a California psychiatric hospital in hopes to set her serial-killer brother free.

SOPHIE OKONEDO

SOPHIE OKONEDO

The Netflix show also stars Finn Wittrock, Sharon Stone, Cynthia Nixon and Judy Davis.

This eight-part adaptation, which is set in 1947, is oddly wonderful. The familiar faces of American Horror Story, gruesome storylines, and quirky punchlines are a wonderful potion to great TV. But Sophie Okonedo steals the show.

Her raw talent is actually what saves the entire series for me because when “Ratched” gets slow she picks it up. When “Ratched” gets redundant and starts to look like every other season of American Horror Story, Okonedo pulls up with the craziest (no pun intended) monologue I have ever heard on a Netflix series.

She does not have much screen time and we are not introduced to her until the fifth episode, but it is just enough for her to capture audiences with her conviction and aptitude.

She is better than James McAvoy in Split (2016) and Glass (2019). She passed the “Acting with Multiple Personalities Disorder” test with flying colors. Since we are talking about how social media fads completely take over the world, let me add my two cents—it’s her range and commitment for me.

Read more at the New Pittsburgh Courier, Sophie Okonedo successfully tackles mental illness in Netflix’s ‘Ratched’

ALL IN: The Fight for Democracy Passes

Tonight, join me for a special virtual screening of All In: The Fight for Democracy! Here’s the link for tickets: http://amazonscreenings.com/AllInMSQ

In anticipation of the 2020 presidential election, ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY examines the often overlooked, yet insidious issue of voter suppression in the United States. The film interweaves personal experiences with current activism and historical insight to expose a problem that has corrupted our democracy from the very beginning. With the perspective and expertise of Stacey Abrams, the former Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, the documentary offers an insider’s look into laws and barriers to voting that most people don’t even know is a threat to their basic rights as citizens of the United States. Coming to theaters Sept. 9, on Prime Video Sept. 18.

Virtual screenings work a little bit different than in-person movie theater screenings. So here’s some pointers: Once you visit the link above to claim your passes, you will receive an email confirmation. And then about an hour before the screening, you’ll get an email where to check-in to reserve your spot. Please plan to “arrive” early as “seating” is technically first come, first serve.

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

Spike Lee and Delroy Lindo Reunite after 25 Years for Da 5 Bloods

It has been two and half decades since veteran actor Delroy Lindo and Academy Award winning director Spike Lee hooked up for a feature film.  The pair reunited for Netflix’s newest release, Da 5 Bloods, a tale of five Vietnam War veterans who return to Asia to tie up some loose ends.

Lindo portrays Paul, a veteran suffering with PTSD, wrestling with some war secrets, and battling with a “fractious” relationship with his son. Even in this vulnerable role, he is a fierce, strong, and proves why he works well with a visionary like Spike Lee.

“I needed to do this,” said Lindo referring to his part in the film.

In a virtual roundtable hosted by the African American Film Critics Association, Lindo tells me, “Spike inviting me to be part of his projects has gifted me with these brilliant characters to play as an actor.” Lindo has graced us with his presence in three Spike Lee joint previously- Malcolm X (1992), Crooklyn (1994), and Clockers (1995).

“That’s a gift to any actor that a creative worker of Spike’s statute would just call you and say “hey man come do this”, not only the invitation to participate in the work, but the content of the part,” said Lindo.

There is an undeniable alchemy when Spike Lee is sitting in the director’s chair and Delroy Lindo is on the other side of the camera. Both Lee and Lindo admitted some of the most powerful scenes in the movie are opportunities where Lindo and the cast improvised such as the riverboat market scene and when Lindo’s character breaks off from the group.

Give Delroy Lindo his flowers now. He continues to solidify his seat with the Hollywood greats, and he is tremendously talented.

Also starring Chadwick Boseman, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Norm Lewis, Clarke Peters, and Jonathan Majors, Da 5 Bloods, even in 2.5 hours, is hard not to watch.  The suspense, intensity, and striking attractiveness of war brothers coming together calls for a really good cinematic picture.

This film is a dark reminder that Black soldiers went halfway around the world defending a country where they were barely free.  Black servicemen fought on the front lines in Vietnam, while their brothers and sisters fought for voting, desegregation, and basic civil liberties.

The Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War were running congruently. Dr. King, Malcolm X, and JFK were all assassinated during this time. Imagine being a freedom fighter or person of color fighting a war abroad when there’s one in your own backyard.

For millennials, like myself, Da 5 Bloods is definitely an eye-opener. Even in fiction, the drops of relevant, thought-provoking history cause for deeper conversation about how Black people respond to war and the sacrifices a Black solider endures. I did not know much about the Vietnam War before watching this film, but I am now on a journey to find out more.

That is powerful remnants of a great film.

Support MSQ During COVID-19 Pandemic

As movie theaters across the country temporarily shut their doors in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Movie Scene Queen was forced to make some difficult decisions as movie screenings are our bread and butter. We are teaming up with Revival Printing Company to help small businesses, like Movie Scene Queen, during these hard times.

We encourage you to purchase a t-shirt for only $20. When you purchase a shirt, $10 goes directly to Movie Scene Queen supporting our Single Parent Project. So, you’ll be supporting two local small businesses– MSQ and Revival Printing Company.

 

Image of Movie Scene Queen

The first 50 people who purchase a Movie Scene Queen t-shirt will automatically be entered in a raffle to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card! The winner will be announced April 15th.

 

No taxes. No hidden fees. Free shipping. Shirts are available at https://www.pghtees.com/product/movie-scene-queen.

Some Pittsburgh Black mothers reliant on ‘huge support system’ – Family and friends helping with childcare, groceries and a positive outlook

When Homewood resident Allison McLeod heard the news of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf closing all K-12 schools in the state, she instantly felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the change in schedules, I had to scatter my son around from family member to family member, all while ensuring he stayed up to date with his studies,” she told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an exclusive interview.

As many Pennsylvanians scrambled to purchase groceries and toiletries, McLeod and other working mothers had an additional layer—finding childcare and balancing work with children.

With schools closed, McLeod now has to put even more food on the table for her son, Christopher. Additionally, as a behavioral specialist for two companies and founder of Building Bridges Parent Support Group, her work requires her to travel to three different counties. With all of the traveling for work, her biggest fear is, “becoming sick and bringing anything home that can compromise my son’s health.”

Health plays a big factor for mother of two, Willesha Miller. The Garfield resident, who works at a local hospital, is concerned about her son’s health, as he has previously suffered from pneumonia three times. Those who have had or currently have pre-existing health conditions are more susceptible to harsher complications from COVID-19, or novel coronavirus.

“The biggest inconvenience so far is trying to keep my kids occupied and food in the house,” Miller told the Courier. “It’s getting so expensive having to constantly buy food since they are home all day, seven days a week. I am honestly getting to the point of having anxiety if schools are closed longer.”

Jena Cox, of the North Side, also has two children, and they may each miss an educational milestone this school year. Her son, Jaoir, 10, is looking forward to his promotion to the fifth grade. And Cox’s daughter, Jaiden, 4, is looking forward to her promotion to kindergarten. “It would be very unfortunate if they don’t get to experience and celebrate their accomplishments with their peers and family,” Cox said.

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Read more at the New Pittsburgh Courier, Some Pittsburgh Black mothers reliant on ‘huge support system’ – Family and friends helping with childcare, groceries and a positive outlook

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