The Woman King Passes

The Woman King is the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and a fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen. Inspired by true events, The Woman King follows the emotionally epic journey of General Nanisca (Oscar®-winner Viola Davis) as she trains the next generation of recruits and readies them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life. Some things are worth fighting for…

The Movie Scene Queen™ will be hosting a screening of The Woman King on Friday, September 9, 2022. For tickets, TEXT ‪(412) 407-2805‬ with your name. Please note that sending the text does not guarantee entry.

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

Cha Cha Real Smooth Passes

A recent college graduate becomes a hot commodity on the local bar mitzvah circuit when he discovers a hidden talent as a party starter in “Cha Cha Real Smooth.” This unconventional, bittersweet comedy- romance from writer, director, producer and actor Cooper Raiff uniquely explores coming of age through a cross-generational lens.

Apple TV+ and Movie Scene Queen are hosting a screening at Cinemark Robinson Township on June 14th at 7PM. Please comment below with your interest.

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

Review: Riding with Sugar Makes an Appearance at the Three Rivers Film Festival; A Foreign Film for the Black Community about Identity and Self-Perseverance

by Merecedes J. Williams, Movie Scene Queen™

Sunu Gonera, a film director from Zimbabwe, crosses country lines with the 2020 drama “Riding with Sugar.” The movie is about a young refugee, Joshua (Charles Mnene), whose escape from the life of a child soldier lands him on the streets of South Africa’s Cape Town. A talented bike-rider, he dreams of winning a cycling championship as a way out of poverty. He finds more than shelter after a terrible accident derails his BMX racing career. Under the wings of a trusted advisor, Joshua is forced to balance education, love, health, and trauma to meet his goals.

According to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, more than 32 million Africans are either internally displaced, refugees, or asylum seekers. Imagine being young with no family, no formal education, and nowhere to go. Gonera paints this picture so vividly through his cinematic release.

He shows us the few impoverished options for young Joshua and the other millions of African who seek the same safety and relief. 

The turbulent struggles and murky waters the main character navigates through is a creative glimpse into Gonera’s film making process. The final product is colorful yet dark, making every life turn that much more relatable for the audience.

The beauty of “Riding with Sugar” lies within its adaptability and how even in a different country, on a different continent, the troubles of young Joshua are the same troubles Black youth face here in America. The journey to find oneself and not succumb to gangs, drugs, and other illicit behavior is boundless, impacting both Africans and African Americans.

The cast, which includes Mnene, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Simona Brown, and Hlayani Junior Mabasa, was phenomenal. The only woman to grace the main slate is Simona Brown, who plays Joshua’s beau, Olivia.

Brown is effortlessly radiant. But that’s to be expected. She brings a calm yet complex demeanor to all of her roles. Most recently, she starred in the Netflix thriller, “Behind Her Eyes.” The British actress is racy, delicate, gentle—pretty much the ideal love interest for every flick. 

She breaks up the male-dominated film with her quirks of legitimate care and concern. Brown also debunks all the stereotypes that foreigners hold about African women. She’s smart, capable, healthy, and wealthy. 

“Riding with Sugar” takes you on a journey. It is more than a coming-of-age story. There’s a piece of Joshua in all of us; an inner child who battles with identity, self-sufficiency, and belonging. 

Both Black and African films, such as “Riding with Sugar”, are vital to the fabric of telling stories of the untold and bringing awareness to the vulnerable population of refugees.

“Riding with Sugar,” the winner of six South African Film and  Television Awards including Best Picture, is available for in-person and virtual screenings at the 2021 Three Rivers Film Festival. 

Schedule:

Friday, November 12, 7:15 PM at the Waterworks Cinemas  

Saturday, November 13, 4:45 PM at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater 

The film is available for virtual viewing November 11-17 in PA, WV, and OH only.

Please check theaters COVID-19 safety policies.

Need tickets? Film Pittsburgh is teaming up with Motor Mouth Multimedia to increase diversity and access to both the Three Rivers Film Festival and the Pittsburgh Shorts and Script Competition, which feature nearly 40 Black films shown in-person and online. Enter the discount code LOCMM50 for 50% off the All Festival passes, and LOCMM2OFF for $2 off all individual tickets.  Visit filmpgh.secure.force.com/ticket to purchase tickets.

The Mauritanian Passes

Captured by the U.S. Government, Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim) languishes in prison for years without charge or trial. Losing all hope, Slahi finds allies in defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley). Together they face countless obstacles in a desperate pursuit for justice. Their controversial advocacy, along with evidence uncovered by formidable military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch), eventually reveals a shocking and far reaching conspiracy. Based on the New York Times best-selling memoir, this is the explosive true story of a fight for survival against all odds.

Movie Scene Queen is hosting a virtual screening for The Mauritanian on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 7:30 PM. Please visit the following link for tickets:

http://stxtickets.com/gzqbh70579

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,

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

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’

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.

Name a better comedy duo than Martin Lawrence and Will Smith. I’ll wait. ‘Bad Boys for Life’ delivers

After 17 years, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence finally grace us with the third installment of the “Bad Boys” series. The infamous Mike Lowery (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) are still chasing bad guys and causing trouble when an old case resurfaces in “Bad Boys for Life.”

I thought Martin Lawrence’s weight gain and Will Smith’s age were going to be a distraction. And clearly, movie makers were thinking the same thing. However, instead of covering up their flaws with great makeup and advanced technology, they made it part of the storyline. Genius!

Each “Bad Boys” installment has been consistent with the right balance of comedy, action, and drama. That’s a testament to the on-screen chemistry Smith and Lawrence have built over the years. In my opinion, there’s no better comedy duo in any film series.

WILL SMITH AND MARTIN LAWRENCE star in the new movie, “Bad Boys for Life.”

The third installment of a film series is difficult to overcome. It establishes whether a movie has longevity and success over an extended time span. A good example of how you can royally destroy a film series is “Home Alone 3” (1997). If Macaulay Culkin, who was 17 at the time, no longer fit the little kid mold, then just let it go. On the other hand, there are great movie series like “Fast and Furious” and “Friday” where the third time really was a charm.

As for “Bad Boys for Life,” it truly delivers in this latest chapter. It is a guaranteed ticket of nostalgia and good entertainment. Many of the stars from the original cast, like Joe Pantoliano and Theresa Randle, have returned, making it that much more enjoyable.

Read more at the New Pittsburgh Courier, Name a better comedy duo than Martin Lawrence and Will Smith. I’ll wait. ‘Bad Boys for Life’ delivers

Underwater Passes

Directed by William Eubank, a crew of underwater researchers must scramble to safety after an earthquake devastates their subterranean laboratory in Underwater.

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Movie Scene Queen and 20th Century Fox are celebrating the upcoming release UNDERWATER, in theaters January 10th. We are hosting an advance screening of the film on Wednesday, January 8th at the AMC Waterfront at 7:30pm. Please comment below with your interest.

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

Queen & Slim Passes

Slim and Queen’s first date takes an unexpected turn when a policeman pulls them over for a minor traffic violation. When the situation escalates, Slim takes the officer’s gun and shoots him in self-defense. Now labelled cop killers in the media, Slim and Queen feel that they have no choice but to go on the run and evade the law. When a video of the incident goes viral, the unwitting outlaws soon become a symbol of trauma, terror, grief and pain for people all across the country.

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Your chance to win two tickets to the November 21st screening of Queen & Slim comment below with your worst date (and you don’t have to go into detail). I’ll start with mine– Picture it.  Penn Hills. 2011. I was supposed to meet a guy at a local bar for a dinner date.  Not only did we never make it to the restaurant.  The bar was the restaurant.  He wanted to sit there all night and “hang out”. Nope! I was gone!

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

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