Throwback Movie of the Month: Dark Girls (2012)

The paper bag and snow-and-blow tests are direct derivatives of the 1712 Willie Lynch Speech that taught White slave owners how to put African Americans against one another based off of weight, class, skin color, and age. Willie Lynch’s advice to Virginia slave owners were to use our differences as a competitive separation tactic to better control slaves. Three hundred years later, society is still popularized with social trends like #teamdarkskin and #teamlightskin. A 2012 documentary closely looks at one group of Black people whose pigmentation has been less than “fair”- Dark Girls.

Dark Girls Film Poster

On Saturday, June 21st, Rights and Responsibility, an organization that uses film and other media to focus on human rights issues impacting people of African descent, held its first screenings in nearly 3 years. Dozens of spectators gathered at the Carnegie Library’s East Liberty Branch to watch the 70-minute documentary, Dark Girls.

Rights and Responsibility Executive Director, Dr. Aisha White, welcomed everyone and then introduced a powerful performance by Love Front Porch’s Vanessa German. Once the movie was over, a panel discussion, moderated by Demetria Bocella, included race relation experts like Dr. Stanley E. Denton, Associate Professor of Education at Point Park University, Dr. Beverly Goodwin, Professor of Psychology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Yolanda Covington-Ward, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, University of Pittsburgh.

The documentary, directed by D. Channsin Berry and Actor Bill Duke, has six segments: The Impact, Family, Men on Women, Women on Men, Global, and Healing. The Help star Viola Davis might be the most well-known account in Dark Girls. Davis, who is sprinkled throughout the film, gives a brief synopsis on her childhood about being dark skinned, raised in a predominantly White neighborhood and how she was too Black for her neighborhood but also, coincidentally, too Black for her “Welfare camp” also.

While Dark Girls features expert commentary from historians and psychologists, it also had distinct accounts from African American men and women. We even heard from a couple White men who like Black women. But, who we failed to hear from was- White Women. Not one White woman was featured in the documentary to give us her opinion on the Dark-skinned Black woman. I found that very interesting!

The short film made several references to Black men about how they indulge in light-skinned or White women, prefer dark skinned women, or simply did not have a preference. But the film failed to have a serious, educated rebuttal from White women. And even though light skinned women where in the documentary, it would have also been enlightening to get their feedback as well.

The behavioral dynamics between women are a huge piece of the colorism, specifically the roles non-dark girls play in the perpetuation of stigmas that shadow dark women.

This might be slightly off topic, but I hate when people say they only date a specific race, especially Black men. To make such a sensitive decision, leads me to believe that the person is naive and immature. I would never limit my opportunities by saying that I only date Black men or White men. More specifically, I would never say, “Oh, I only date light-skinned men.” It just sounds close-minded and idiotic.

Dark Girls most informative part is about family and how parents are a child’s initial reassurance and boost in understanding, development, and self-esteem. LaQualla Davis, 30, thought Dark Girls “finally shed light to an issue within the Black community that needed to be exposed.” Davis, a dark-skinned woman, attributes her high self-esteem and confidence in her early values that were instilled by her parents. She recalls her mom always calling her “beautiful” and embracing her equally regardless of her dark skin.

3.5 STARS: Dark Girls is an ideal stepping stone to start healthy dialogue about colorism, but it is not the premiere premise or remedy to the issue. It’ll take more than a few dozen stories to solve this problem. The healing process is multi-dimensional and requires historical knowledge, self-esteem, and professional guidance in order to break the barriers of colorism for all people.

Dark Girls was released on DVD in September 2013 and is currently available on Netflix and Red Box. And if you need to borrow my Netflix account, let me know!

JERSEY BOYS “Fan Pack” Sweepstakes

On behalf of the Movie Scene Queen and Warners Brothers Pictures, enter for your chance to win a Jersey Boys FAN PACK…

JERSEY.BOYS_OneSheetPoster

From director Clint Eastwood comes the big-screen version of the Tony Award-winning musical “Jersey Boys.” The film tells the story of four young men from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who came together to form the iconic 1960s rock group. The story of their trials and triumphs are accompanied by the songs that influenced a generation, including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Dawn,” “Rag Doll,” “Bye Bye Baby,” “Who Loves You,” and many more.

The Jersey Boys Fan Pack includes:
· 1 – JERSEY BOYS One Sheet
· 1 – JERSEY BOYS T-shirt
· 1 – JERSEY BOYS Tote Bag
· 1 – JERSEY BOYS 3” Round Button
· 1 (Admit Two) – JERSEY BOYS Hollywood Movie Money

Jersey Boys Fan Pack

To be considered for this great giveaway, please comment below with the answer to the following movie trivia:

Jersey Boys tells the story of four young men from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who joined together to form a 1960s rock group. Name this iconic group.

A winner will be randomly selected on Friday, June 20th and contacted via email about the prize pack. GOOD LUCK!

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

Belle

banner-belle-film

Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays a mixed-race 18th century England aristocrat in the movie, Belle. The movie is based off the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate daughter of White Royal Navy officer, Captain Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode) and an African slave woman. Left in the care of her Uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), Belle was above the ranks of captured slaves, but still not able to join the company of her White relatives during public or formal events.

Belle’s uncle, who was also the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, was deliberating on the infamous Zong slave ship case (Gregson v. Gilbert), where about 140 enslaved Africans were thrown overboard and drowned by the crew of the slave ship. The case decided whether Zong slave ship owners were able to claim the loss with insurers. Lord Mansfield’s decision was a landmark judgment in the abolition of slavery in England.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who is mixed herself with English and African, is undeniably beautiful. You cannot keep your eyes off of her. While her resume is petite, the formal training she received from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts attests her excellent acting skills in Belle.

You might remember Mbatha-Raw from her supporting role in Tom Hanks’ 2011 project Larry Crowne. I must admit that Belle is my first big screen experience with the 30-year-old actress, but I am truly impressed. She is radiant and notably one of the most beautiful woman in recent films.

Belle is powerful. There is no way someone can watch the movie and not be charged for change, convicted by the human mistreatment of the slave trade, and grateful for the slight progress accomplished since the 1700s. I truly commend British writer and director Amma Asante for this bold venture.

Belle Director

Despite the seriousness of the film, Belle still has a fairy tale like piece; a woman with money, freedom and (partial) royal status is still in search of love. Belle is a sweet mixture of Color of Friendship (2000) and the Man in the Iron Mask (1998).

Solomon Northup and his 12 Years A Slave autobiographical narrative took 2013 by storm with its unique tale and cruel injustice. But I think we were so intrigued by his story because most of us were not familiar with his story. The same can be said for Dido Belle.

Of the many movies involving slavery, it is films like Belle and 12 Years A Slave that stick out like sore thumbs. Whereas others were ripped from their homes and forced into captivity, including Dido Belle’s mother, some like Solomon Northup and Dido Belle, were free but not fortunate enough to not endure the reality of racism and racial disparity.

Although their stories are centuries old, the Dido Belles and Solomon Northups of the world are still applicable and necessary even today. Both movies, which were previously introduced in smaller film circuits, are taking over the cinematic world by opening minds to untold, rare accounts.

4.5 Stars: Belle’s atypical story is no longer swept under the rug. The world, on a much larger scale, knows Dido Elizabeth Belle. She was remarkable, eminent, and a driving force to all women dealing with race related issues. Belle is in theatres on Friday, May 23rd (Pittsubrgh: Only showing at AMC Waterfront 22.)

Belle Painting
The 1779 painting of Dido Belle with her cousin Elizabeth

February 2014 Throwback Movie of the Month: Betty and Coretta

“They refused to let tragedy defeat them!” -Ruby Dee

betty-and-coretta film poster

Legendary actress and civil rights activist, Ruby Dee, provided beautiful narration for Lifetime’s movie, Betty and Coretta. The wives of late Civil Rights leaders, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. joined forces after their husbands were assassinated in the 1960s. In alignment with Black History Month, the movie has perfect timing. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X are easily associated with coining and strengthening the Civil Rights Movement.

Dr. Betty Shabazz (Mary J. Blige) was left with 6 girls after her husband was assassinated in 1965. Many speculations were made surrounding Malcolm X’s murder, but Dr. Shabazz focused on her small tribe of girls and furthering her education. She received her doctorate degree and began working as a professor at Medgar Evers College. In 1997, after 23 days in the hospital, Dr. Shabazz died from burn complications of a house fire that was set by her grandson, Malcolm Shabazz.

Only three years after Malcolm X’s assassination, Coretta Scott King (Angela Bassett) became a widow too when Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot on a Memphis hotel balcony. Both Betty and Coretta were determined to carry on their husbands’ legacies through service, hard work, and campaigning. Coretta fought the nasty allegations that surfaced from the FBI’s surveillance and wire tapping of Dr. King and petitioned for the government to make Dr. King’s birthday a national holiday. While, Dr. Shabazz tried to change the minds of people who believed her Malcolm X was a traitor or trouble maker.

Coretta Scott King passed on January 30, 2006 after respiratory failure due to complications from ovarian cancer. Both women rest peacefully next to their husbands.

Mary J. Blige and Angela Bassett didn’t quite win me over as Betty and Coretta, but there were hesitantly believable moments. I have never been a fan of Mary J. Blige as a actress or dancer, but Betty and Coretta might be her best work. On the other hand, I am positively an Angela Bassett fan. She’s always plays the more serious roles, and Ms. Bassett is known for playing non-fictional people. Ironnically, she’s played Dr. Betty Shabazz twice, once in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X (1992) and then on a smaller scale in 1995’s Panther. Bassett has also played Rosa Parks, Michael Jackson’s mommy, Catherine, and Notorious BIG’s mother, Voletta Wallace.

Malik Yoba had a shocking resemblance to Dr. King. I was pleasantly surprised by his presence. Yoba has kept a relatively low profile since his hit Fox sitcom, New York Undercover. But, he was handsome, brilliant, and captivating.

According to a February 1, 2003 Washington Post article, Malcolm X’s third daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s daughter, Rev. Bernice King spoke out about the imprecisions in the biographical film. Both daughters wish the women TV network would have consulted all of the children before filming. Shabazz’s cited her mother’s portrayal as the biggest inaccuracy, claiming the movie is ”fiction.”

The reality is that the movie, accurate or not, made viewers ponder on the already established legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. More importantly, it made us focus on two widows who for so long stood behind shadows. Admittedly, I never knew how many times Malcolm X was shot (21 times), that the FBI tried to incriminate Martin Luther King, Jr. with surveillance, and specific details of Dr. Betty Shabazz’s death. Of course, I was aware of the historical events, but the movie prompted me to do more research.

3 Stars: It is difficult to produce a made for TV movie, it’s even more difficult to convey a true story. Similar to VH1 and TLC, the Lifetime Network created a movie that was based off of facts and perceptions. Ultimately, the movie played the best role by being both informative and entertaining.

I urge you to learn one new Black History fact, for it’s not just “Black” History…but History!Betty-and-Coretta

bc widows
Civil Rights Widows
From left to right, Dr. Betty Shabazz, the late wife of Malcolm X, Coretta Scott King, the late wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Myrlie Evers-Williams, the wife of the late Medgar Evers

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Mandela-Long-Walk-to-Freedom-poster-idris-naomie-610x324

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, starring Idris Elba as former South African President Nelson Mandela, is a lesson to be learned by all ages. As the world still mourns after Nelson Mandela’s December 5th death, there’s a slight comfort and learning opportunity with this movie. With seven different movies about Nelson Mandela’s life, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is only movie authorized by Nelson Mandela and his family.

Idris Elba and Naomie Harris as Nelson and Winnie Mandela is a match made in heaven. Elba, who was recently nominated for Best Actor by the Golden Globes for his role in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, is strong and poised, and with the spot of makeup magic, gave the audience an intense snapshot of Nelson Mandela from a young lad to a senior citizen. Whereas, Harris is feisty and mild tempered as the former First Lady of South Africa. Both actors portray the couple as they had studied their behavior and work for a long period of time.

As expected, the movie was long. Although worth it, I wonder why the movie focused a great deal of time on his first marriage and his promiscuous ways. I know all leaders are not perfect and hold their own flaws. But the focus on that particular part of his life was not detrimental to story line. I wish the movie would have shed light more on the work he did once he was elected president in 1994.

On December 12th, Movie Scene Queen hosted a special screening of the movie and invited Pittsburgh Public Schools students and District leaders. Student members of the African American Center for Advanced Studies (AACAS) Executive Committee, a group of PPS Black gifted students, and young African American men a part of the WE PROMISE program, a District initiative to mentor male students and help them obtain the Pittsburgh Promise, were in attendance.

“The only thing I knew about Nelson Mandela was that he fought to end apartheid and spent 27 years in prison. Everything else that happened in the movie, I never knew” says AACAS executive committee member and Brashear High School junior, Makeda Drew, 16.

Drew and roughly 40 other students spent 139 minutes learning the multi-layered story of Nelson Mandela. “I think it’s important for us to be exposed to a great leader. The movie was inspirational to see what changes one man could accomplish because of what he believed in,” says Drew.

The movie has already seen cinematic success in South Africa. According to Box Office Mojo, the movie debuted at #1 during its opening weekend (November 28th release date) and has currently grossed an estimated $1.2 million.

4 STARS: In addition to the many local initiatives in Pittsburgh to honor Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy, let’s maximize on this holiday break and support this movie. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a must see for everyone.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Passes

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” -Nelson Mandela

Mandela Film Poster

Days after the December 5th death of South African Former President Nelson Mandela, The Weinstein Company presents a movie about his life, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) served 27 years in prison and was very instrumental in the abolishment of apartheid and eventually became South Africa’s president.

The Movie Scene Queen has the opportunity for you to see the movie on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 7:30 PM. The screening will be held at South Side Works Cinema (425 Cinema Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15203).

PLEASE COMMENT BELOW TO RSVP

mandela1

CrazySexyCool: A TLC Story

TLC

The movie had me at the opening credits!

VH1’s CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, the #1 trending topic on social sites during its premiere Monday night, reignited the buzz and fan-based admiration for the Grammy award winning trio.

The movie covers a lot of the backstage occurrences that we never saw like Left Eye’s father’s murder, Chili’s chilling abortion, and T-Boz’s unexpected diagnosis of sickle cell anemia. For 150 minutes, viewers also enjoyed the great moments like when the girls heard their song on the radio for the first time or their very first tour with MC Hammer and Jodeci.

The movie clearly shows that although the three ladies came from different walks of life, they shared synonymous relationship turbulence. After burning down his Atlanta mansion, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes (Natia “Lil Mama” Kirkland) struggled with her jealousy-filled relationship with Atlanta Falcons WR Andre Rison. Rozonda “Chili” Thomas (Keke Palmer) had her own emotional rollercoaster with Atlanta songwriter and producer, Dallas Austin (Evan Ross). And Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins (Drew Sidora) had a couple celebrity flings with Jodeci singer, Dalvin, and West Coast rapper, Mac 10.

The love affairs showcased the deep tenderness and sacrifices they made for their careers and their significant others, especially Chili. Always been forced to be Austin’s presence due to work commitments, she was constantly reminded of previous loss. The abortion scene and the discussion about the decision set the entire tone for the movie and better explains Chili’s jumpy journey with Austin.

KeKe Palmer is all grown and up and simply beautiful. Palmer has evolved since her spelling bee days as Akeelah; however, I was not quite sold on her role as Chili. I never thought she resembled her, even from the promotional ads, but the movie solidified my suspicion. Palmer took on Chili’s emotions but did not really nail the physical aspects; maybe it was the bad front lace wig.

Lil Mama, on the other hand, absolutely blew my mind as the late Left Eye. She mastered her moves, speech delivery, and overall joyous, rambunctious spirit. It was as if Lil Mama was made for this role. There were moments in the movie, like her last moments in Honduras, where I actually thought I was looking at Left Eye.

VH1 (and Twitter last night) did not hold back on Mercedes Boy singer and former TLC Manager, Perri “Pebbles” Reid (Rochelle Aytes). The movie depicted her as an evil villain who took advantage of the jovial innocence of the 90s girls group and ultimately forced the girls into bankruptcy and seeking other management.

TLC commemorates the movie release with an album release, 20. The 20th anniversary album features hits like Waterfalls, Creep, No Scrubs and headlines with a brand new song, Meant To Be, which is also introduced in the movie.

4 STARS: Even though we know how the story ends with the tragic death of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, the movie reminds all TLC fans that Left Eye’s legacy lives on through the remaining members of the group. A really good made-for-tv movie!

If you missed last night’s premiere, VH1 is bound to play the movie several times this week.

And I know this is random, but can I just say that Cole from Martin (Carl Anthony Payne II), who played record executive L.A. Reid, looked good? He ain’t chubby and goofy looking no more. He was chiseled and fine!

TLC-Baby-Baby-Baby-1664091

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑