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.

A Quiet Place Part II Passes

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Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe) must now face the terrors of the outside world as they continue their fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.

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Movie Scene Queen and Paramount Pictures are hosting A QUIET PLACE PART II ADVANCE SCREENING. Please join us in Monday, March 16th at 7:30PM at AMC Waterfront 22.  Please comment below with your favorite sequel. My favorite sequel of all time is Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992).

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

The Invisible Man Passes

What would you do if your abusive partner suddenly became invisible?

Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass (Moss) escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister (Harriet Dyer, NBC’s The InBetween), their childhood friend (Aldis Hodge, Straight Outta Compton) and his teenage daughter (Storm Reid, HBO’s Euphoria).

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The Invisible Man screening will be held on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at 7:30 PM. Please comment below with your interest. See you at the movies!

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

Onward Passes

Set in a suburban fantasy world, Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” introduces two teenage elf brothers (voices of Chris Pratt and Tom Holland) who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there. Pixar Animation Studios’ all-new original feature film is directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae—the team behind “Monsters University.” “Onward” releases in theaters on March 6, 2020.

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Movie Scene Queen, Disney, and Pixar are hosting a special screening on Monday, March 2, 2020 at AMC Waterfront 22 at 7 PM. Family four packs to catch the advance screening of Onward are available.  All you have to do is comment below with the last Disney movie you’ve seen.

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

Sweat Equity: Merecedes Williams is ready for her closeup

By Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The first row of the balcony at an advance screening for “Harriet” at AMC Waterfront 22 in Homestead was filled with high school students from Allderdice, laughing and enjoying the evening out.

The laughter settled down once the movie started and the life of 19th-century abolitionist Harriet Tubman unfurled on the screen. They were absorbing the re-creation of a world they had missed by more than 160 years. Still, there was no denying the parts that resonated.

Merecedes J. Williams, aka Movie Scene Queen, looks forward to that moment of recognition. The social media project assistant for Pittsburgh Public Schools is also the movie critic for The New Pittsburgh Courier.

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It was in her capacity as the Courier’s movie critic with access to free advance screenings that it occurred to Ms. Williams to make that opportunity available to Pittsburgh Public School students when it comes to films with educational value.

With the mission of expanding awareness of quality films for young people, Ms. Williams created the Movie Scene Queen entertainment blog seven years ago. Her goal then — as now — is to engage young people in discussions of films and to make free passes available to those in the Pittsburgh Public Schools who want to attend advance screenings.

On evenings when she is supervising a dozen or so students at a screening, Ms. Williams is also thinking about how to approach the movie critically and fairly as a reviewer. She’s both hostess and critic on those occasions, a burden she happily accepts many years into the gig.

The first movie she reviewed for the Courier was “Fruitvale Station,” the 2013 Michael B. Jordan classic about the killing of an unarmed and handcuffed black commuter by cops at a BART Station in Oakland, Calif.

“I thought, ‘Wow, how can I write about this?’” she said, recalling the tears streaming down her face when the movie was over. She fought her way through the sorrow to an evaluation of the film based on its aesthetic merits and social/political implications for African American viewers.

“This is much more than a movie,” she said of the film directed by Ryan Coogler. He would later gain even more fame as the director of “Black Panther,” one of the highest grossing movies of all time. “This is a film about unrepresented people who are being slaughtered by those who are supposed to protect and serve them,” she said.

Just as every superhero movie has an origin story, it was at that moment that Merecedes J. Williams became Movie Scene Queen.

There was so much educational value — painful as it was in a film like “Fruitvale Station” — that she wanted to play a role in exposing young people to that aspect of cinema culture.

“The idea was to stick with black films that predominantly showcase black actors, producers or directors,” she said. Early on, Ms. Williams also decided she had a social responsibility to bring things up in her movie reviews, even though it might cause some people to “look sideways at her” for being too preachy.

“It’s important to me to stay true to myself in every movie review, especially when I’m representing my opinion to a population I’m a part of,” she said of the Courier’s predominantly African American readership. “It’s a burden I’ll live with for the rest of my life as long as I’m black, female and writing.”

Read more at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sweat Equity: Merecedes Williams is ready for her closeup

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

New movie ‘Like A Boss’ has great chemistry between Haddish, Byrne

Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne are an unlikely best friend duo in the year’s first comedy, “Like A Boss.” Mel (Bryne) and Mia (Haddish) are in major debt with their cosmetic company when a makeup mogul (Salma Hayek) tries to buy them out and take over the company.

The movie overall seemed to be missing something and I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think the promotion and marketing was grand. Maybe too grand, because I thought that the movie was going to be gut-busting hilarious. In reality, “Like A Boss” gave me a couple chuckles at most. I was definitely expecting more.

Salma Hayek’s character, Claire Luna, was cliché, almost satire. Not only was the character not believable, but it put a huge damper in the storyline. It was a poor attempt at “Devil Wears Prada” (2006). The orange wig and porcelain teeth was too much.

The film’s biggest takeaway was the value of a long-lasting friendship. What seemed like a strange pair, Haddish and Bryne actually meshed well together and brought the key messaging to life. Their chemistry was evident and rubbed off as authentic. Haddish was over the top and loud, while Bryne was bland and reserved. The pair was an out-of-the-box balance.

A small piece of Pittsburgh was in “Like A Boss.” Pittsburgh native Billy Porter plays Mia and Mel’s spicy production assistant, Barrett. He was wonderful. The “Kinky Boots” star almost played himself—bubbly, zesty, and quick-witted.

Read more at the New Pittsburgh Courier, New movie ‘Like A Boss’ has great chemistry between Haddish, Byrne

Dolittle Passes

Dolittle stars Robert Downey Jr. with an ALL-STAR voice cast of supporting actors. After losing his wife seven years earlier, the eccentric Dr. John Dolittle (Downey), famed doctor and veterinarian of Queen Victoria’s England, hermits himself away behind the high walls of Dolittle Manor with only his menagerie of exotic animals for company.

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The screening will be Saturday, January 11 at 10:00 AM at AMC Waterfront 22. Please comment below with your favorite animal movie. For me, it’s easy! I love Monkey Trouble (1994) and Dunston Checks In (1996).

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

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

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