Black Panther Passes

T’Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.

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We have four prize packs which includes two tickets to a February 12th screening at Pittsburgh Mills, a Black Panther hat, shirt, and mini poster.  Please comment below with your favorite superhero.

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

February 2014 Throwback Movie of the Month: Betty and Coretta

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

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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

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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

Black Nativity

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Fox Searchlight Pictures and Eve’s Bayou Director Kasi Lemmons retells Langston Hughes’s beautiful story, Black Nativity. The remake stars Jennifer Hudson, Jacob Latimore, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, and Tyrese Gibson.

Young Langston (Latimore) is forced to leave his mother, Naima (Hudson) in Baltimore to relocate with his estranged grandparents (Whitaker and Bassett) in New York City. Falling into some bad habits, it is up to Langston to restore his broken family, bring some clarity to his mother’s misfortune, and find out the truth about his biological father. Through spiritual songs and creative movement, Black Nativity celebrates and retells the illuminating birth of Jesus Christ.

I enjoyed the complexity and complicated work of Kasi Lemmons’ previous projects such as Eve’s Bayou. However, Black Nativity lacked general flow and understanding. A very long church scene included distorted points of view. The audience will be confused as the movie transitions from dream scenes to present situations. There was no clear delineations between musical numbers and when the movie switched from fantasy to reality.

Since What’s the 411?, I have been an avid Mary J. Bilge fan. But I questioned her and rapper Nas’ existence in Black Nativity. Both musicians made me question their connection to the overall story-line.

As Christians, we too fall short of the glory of God. Naima’s family was torn as a result of her teenage pregnancy. Furthermore, the parents ostracized her for failing to uphold her preacher’s daughter image. Also, it is not our role as onlookers to past further judgement on others, yet we are to forgive them for their transgressions and empower our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to live righteously (James 4:11).

2.5 STARS: Black Nativity had strong moments. But, overall, the movie did not collectively meet my expectations.

August Throwback Movie of the Month: Akeelah & The Bee

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Akeelah and the Bee is an unforgettable movie about an 11 year old African American girl, Akeelah (Keke Palmer), who spells her way to the top. In a single parent home in South Central Los Angeles, there are a lot of odds against young Akeelah. Her public school is not equipped with the resources for her to succeed and she’s still dealing with the violent death of her father from years ago. Akeelah, who initially was written off, used her great memorization techniques and love for words and their games, like Scrabble, to win spelling bees.

This movie is filled with the plagues that stricken our urban communities like gun violence, drug dealing, teenage pregnancy, and poor public education. Akeelah’s school, Crenshaw Middle School, uses her intelligence to further their agenda on educational funding and school school recognition. To ensure her spelling success, principal () recruits college English professor, (Laurence Fishburne) to coach Akeelah. He teaches her thousands of new words, language origins, meanings and more.

Keke Palmer, who is now a beautiful young woman, captured all of our hearts in this movie. She’s definitely one of those Disney Channel kids, similar to Raven Symone, who had to act, sing and dance to cut it in the big leagues. She simply shined as Akeelah, not only did she star in the film but she also was featured on the soundtrack with her hit, “All My Girlz.”

Ike & Tina Turner Together Again
The 1993 tell all story about Ike & Tina Turner, What’s Love Got to Do With It, was the first time we seen Angela Bassett, who played Akeelah’s mother, and Laurence Fishburne together on the big screen. Who knew that 13 years later they would reunite for this warm tale about a little Black’s girl journey to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Only this time, the pair was not bickering and fighting but they were working together as Akeelah’s closest confidants to lead her to victory.

4 Stars: If you’re ever flicking through the channels and catch the Scripps National Spelling Bee on ESPN, count how many Black children are on the stage. This movie reminds us of our duty to expand our children’s horizon, to get them involved academically and scholastically.

P-U-L-C-H-R-I-T-U-D-E

pulchritude means physical beauty

From the root Latin word, “pulcher” which means beautiful

Throwback Movie of the Month- Waiting to Exhale (June 2013)

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Now as an adult, the 1995 classic Waiting to Exhale makes more sense! The unfair rules of the game called love. The awkward dating scene. The struggles of being the other woman. The hectic life of single motherhood. The regretful dark clouds of abortion. The overall uncertainties, unfortunates, and inconsistencies of love would drive any woman insane. In Forest Whitaker’s directing debut, Waiting to Exhale, based off of the Terry McMillan novel, follows four women whose friendship becomes stronger as they battle a rough year.

Savannah- The Settled One
Played by the late Whitney Houston (RIP), Savannah Jackson was the typical successful Black woman; over consumed with her hectic life as a TV producer. Savannah’s love was often put on the back burner making her career superior. She settled for the occasional love of a married man, Kenneth (Dennis Haysbert- you know the Allstate Insurance man “Are you in good hands?”). Kenneth used his sick wife and young daughter as an excuse to remain in his martial commitment. In the end and against her mother’s advice, Savannah left Kenneth while supporting her friends in their own searches for love.

Bernadine- The Hurt One
Played by Angela Bassett, Bernadine Harris had it all until after 11 years of marriage she was confronted with a cheating husband, messy divorce, and single motherhood. Equipped with all the right qualifications to have her own career, Bernie was stuck with no financial resources to care for her home. Her biggest realization was the fact that her former husband was already shacked up with another woman and no longer the sole provider of her family. Bernie had to make a safe balance between caring for her children, reconciling the broken pieces of her heart, and identifying the resources to properly finance her newly constructed family.

My favorite Bernie scene was when she met James Wheeler (Wesley Snipes) in a hotel bar after a day in divorce court. All too many times when I’m traveling on business I find myself being James Wheeler; a person in foreign places meeting complete strangers but relating to them on many different levels. I’ll admit I’ve never (and I mean never) then spent the night wrapped in that stranger’s arms. But how simply sublime would it be to gravitate to someone you’ve never meet before in the matter of minutes.

Robin- The Broken One
Played by Lela Rochon, Robin Stokes, similar to her friend Savannah, was a successful executive who was in love with another woman’s husband, Russell (Leon). Dealing with post-abortion syndrome, Robin yearned for her ideal family and in the movie, you see Robin wasting her time with several men in hopes to snag her own husband. Like most of us women, Robin has a hard time letting Russell go knowing he’s the root of all her relationship problems. In the end, Robin finds the most “peace” with giving up that “piece” of her life.

Gloria- The Reasonable One
Played by Loretta Devine, Gloria Matthews was a beauty shop owner and single mother of a teenaged son, Tarik (Donald Faison). She falls madly in love with her next door neighbor, Marvin (Gregory Hines). Marvin quickly eased Gloria’s fresh wounds after finding out that her ex-husband was gay. Out of the four women, she’s the most reasonable one spewing helpful, realistic advice to her three female friends.

Overall, I love the way African American women were depicted in this film. Sexy & Successful! We’re not all married or all on welfare. Yes, we have our flaws but we create a diverse balanced group of beautiful creatures. The movie was praised for having an all-Black cast and being well received around the world. Well there were two White women in the movie; (1) the little girl who was performing oral sex on Gloria’s son and (2) Bernie’s husband’s mistress who was eventually pimp slapped in the middle of the board room. (But who’s keeping count!)

The Soundtrack
My hope is to eventually expand this blog to cover music as well as movies because Waiting to Exhale was a double pleasure; great movie and an even better soundtrack. I was recently in Boston and I listened to the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack from beginning to end. The soulful soundtrack brings back sweet yet sour memories of the any person you’ve ever loved intimately. What other soundtrack was originally produced and written by legendary music mogul Babyface featuring greats like Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, TLC, Brandy, CeCe Winans, and Toni Braxton? The greatness was all captured on one little CD. It’s a classic!

4.75 STARS: Any woman can relate to the turbulent ride of being with any man. RIP Whitney Houston

This blog post is dedicated to the ONE, who out of all the HIMs, took a piece of me and still kept it!

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Week of 3.18.13- Olympus Has Fallen

Two Words: ACTION PACKED!!!

Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, and Gerard Butler star in a heroic story about a CIA agent who pretty much has the entire country counting on him as Korean terrorists take over the White House. Eighteen months prior to the White House attack, Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Butler) made efforts to save President and First Lady Asher (Aaron Eckhart and Ashley Judd) after a terrible car accident. Agent Banning was only able to save the President and watched as First Lady Asher fell to her untimely death. Banning’s lifesaving attempts removed him from the President’s detail and behind a desk at the US Treasury. This desk position probably puts him in the best predicament because he was one of the first responders to the terrorist aircraft that gunned down innocent civilians.

From the director of Training Day, it was evident why one viewer said “it was like Die Hard 2013 meets Saw.” Similar to Training Day, the movie had a dark glow. You know-that “the world is about to end” glow full of panic, chaos, police sirens, and no sign of running water and electricity. The President and his executive cabinet were slightly tortured but to see one’s man fight to save them was heroic.

This movie leaves you with ONE burning question: HOW OLD IS MORGAN FREEMAN?

Sheesh! He might out live me.

4.5 STARS: This is surely a man’s flick! But I can see the ladies getting together to watch a whole bunch of men kill each for one’s country.

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