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The Photograph. See that Picture. [Movie Review]

When a young journalist, Michael Block (LaKeith Stanfield), visits the home of a veteran seaman, a living room photograph grabs Block’s attention. When Block returns home to New York City, his interest in the image leads him to ultimately meet the now deceased photographer’s daughter, Mae (Issa Rae) who also resides in the Big Apple. Their attraction is immediate. While Mae learns some truths about her mother, she and Block try to figure out if they’re meant to be.

Movies with rich, well-developed characters have always appealed to me. The Photograph is that kind of film. The characters are black. But there’s no violence. No one calling each other the “N” word. No one’s on drugs or in prison. They do fall in love. They have close family bonds and loving and supportive friends. It is important to note that this representation of African Americans is authentic because some see only portrayals of black people engaging in seedy behavior as realistic.

Michael and Mae sizzle together. Writer and director, Stella Meghie, has created very deep, very believable characters. When the couple discussed personalities, Mae wonders if we’re all just the people who fit in with those we’re with at that moment. There are also amusing and honest situations. One evening when the couple is alone, he notices that she seems to be praying. She admits that it’s for will power.

With a very strong cast across the board, the story travels back and forth through time when Mae’s mother is young and first moves to New York City, through Mae’s early childhood and then of course into her adulthood.

At $16 million, the film is low-budget by Hollywood standards and film quality is a bit grainy. The story is set in the mid to late 1980s, but only car buffs will realize that a lot of the cars, even those that are supposed to be new, are from the mid-70s.

The Photograph doesn’t reflect New York City’s true diversity. Other than Chelsea Peretti who plays Blocks’ quirky boss, there’s not a lot of non-blacks in this movie. And it gets a C- for cast diversity.

The Photograph, rated PG-13 for sexuality and brief strong language, is 106 minutes long, and is every bit a See It!

Little is Big on Entertainment | WHAT’S THE 411 MOVIE REVIEW

She’s the ultimate Alpha female, Jordan (Regina Hall) runs her highly successful tech enterprise mercilessly. She insults and constantly threatens her staff. She’s condescending to everyone else in her world. One day Jordan offends the wrong person who magically transforms her back to her 13-year-old self. After getting over the shock of this transformation, she realizes that even as a teen she has a business to run. So, she turns to the primary target of her abuse, April (Issa Rae), her personal assistant to serve as her guardian and to run the day-to-day operations of her business.

Little is simply a lot of fun and it gets a See It! rating. It’s funny and even as a comedy serves up superior acting. Marsai Martin of Blackish fame who plays the younger Jordan, rules! She personifies the teenage version of the iron-willed executive that we saw in the adult Jordan. Her performance is key to the success of Little. She also works her natural “do” throughout the movie. Marsai who will soon be 15-years-old in real life also is one of the film’s executive producers, and according to NPR that makes her the youngest one in Hollywood.

Marsai Martin as a preteen Jordan Sanders in the movie Little photo courtesy of Universal Pictures 700x487

Marsai Martin, as the preteen Jordan Sanders in the movie, Little. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

The rest of the creative team includes Tina Gordon, Will Packer, Kenya Barris, and Tracy Oliver. This group of African Americans should be commended for the creation of such positive black characters: Jordan has two married parents. There’s nobody on welfare or in jail. And no one calls each other the “N” word. Jordan definitely behaves like what many would call the “B” word, yet no one says it! (And they shouldn’t.) While this is definitely a female dominated story, the black men are upbeat and supportive of the ladies as they deal with their myriad of issues.

Little earns a solid “A” for cast diversity. It’s frankly one of the most diverse casts you’ll see. Which is also consistent with the fact the story is set in Atlanta. Little is rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and is 109 minutes in length.

Take a little time to see Little. You won’t regret it!

Kaepernick, Wendy Williams, John Legend, Tyrese, and more | Ep. 117

Ava Duvernay, Issa Rae, Jay-Z are up for an NAACP’s Entertainer of the Year Image Award

In this episode of What's The 411 hosts Kizzy Cox, and Onika McLean are talking about Wendy Williams; Cynthia Bailey and Peter Thomas' business venture; John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, the NFL, Colin Kaepernick, Morgan Freeman, Diana Ross, Ava DuVernay, Issa Rae, Jay-Z, Tank, The Rock, Tyrese, and much more.

  • Published in Episodes

The 2017 Golden Globe Nominations Are Released

Taraji P. Henson, Nate Parker, Birth of a Nation, and Barbershop 3: The Next Cut, Get No Love from Golden Globes

The nominations for the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards were announced this morning on NBC's "Today" live from the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Denzel Washington, Ruth Negga, Mahershala Ali, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Tracee Ellis Ross, Anthony Anderson, Issa Rae, Courtney B. Vance, Thandie Newton, Donald Glover, Kerry Washington, and Sterling K. Brown are among the actors vying for a Golden Globe Award. Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, and Benjamin Wallfisch are nominated for Best Original Score – Motion Picture for Hidden Figures. The song, How Far I'll Go (Moana), written by Hamilton creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is nominated for Best Original Song – Motion Picture.

Although Washington received a nom for Best Actor in a Movie, Drama category for Fences, he failed to receive a Best Director nomination for directing the film. The movie, based on the August Wilson play of the same name, which also stars Viola Davis, who received an acting nomination, also failed to receive a nomination in the Best Picture - Drama category.

Filmmaker Barry Jenkins received a nomination for Best Direction – Motion Picture for Moonlight, and the film received a Golden Globe Best Motion Picture – Drama nomination.

Actors Don Cheadle, Laura Dern, and Anna Kendrick were joined by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Lorenzo Soria, Dick Clark Productions' executive VP of television, Barry Adelman, and the Miss Golden Globe trio — Sophia, Sistine, and Scarlet Stallone in announcing the nominees. Yes, the young ladies of the Miss Golden Globe trio are related to actor Sylvester Stallone; they are his daughters and will assist in handing out the trophies during the ceremony.

Produced by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Golden Globe Awards will air live from the Beverly Hilton Hotel on NBC on Sunday, January 8, 2017, at 8-11 p.m. ET/5-8 p.m. PT. The ceremony will be hosted by comedian Jimmy Fallon.

Here is the full list of 2017 Golden Globe nominations:

Best Motion Picture – Drama:

"Hacksaw Ridge"
"Hell or High Water"
"Manchester By The Sea"

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy:

"20th Century Women"
"La La Land"
"Florence Foster Jenkins"
"Sing Street"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama:

Casey Affleck – "Manchester By The Sea"
Joel Edgerton – "Loving"
Andrew Garfield – "Hacksaw Ridge"
Viggo Mortensen – "Captain Fantastic"
Denzel Washington – "Fences"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama:

Amy Adams – "Arrival"
Jessica Chastain – "Miss Sloane"
Isabelle Huppert – "Elle"
Ruth Negga – "Loving"
Natalie Portman – "Jackie"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy:

Colin Farrell – "The Lobster"
Ryan Gosling – "La La Land"
Hugh Grant – "Florence Foster Jenkins"
Jonah Hill – "War Dogs"
Ryan Reynolds – "Deadpool"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy:

Annette Bening – "20th Century Women"
Lily Collins – "Rules Don't Apply"
Hailee Steinfeld – "The Edge of Seventeen"
Emma Stone – "La La Land"
Meryl Streep – "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture:

Mahershala Ali – "Moonlight"
Jeff Bridges – "Hell or High Water"
Simon Helberg – "Florence Foster Jenkins"
Dev Patel – "Lion"
Aaron Taylor-Johnson – "Nocturnal Animals"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture:

Viola Davis – "Fences"
Naomie Harris – "Moonlight"
Nicole Kidman – "Lion"
Octavia Spencer – "Hidden Figures"
Michelle Williams – "Manchester by the Sea"

Best Director – Motion Picture:

Damien Chazelle – "La La Land"
Tom Ford – "Nocturnal Animals"
Mel Gibson – "Hacksaw Ridge"
Barry Jenkins – "Moonlight" 
Kenneth Lonergan – "Manchester by the Sea"

Best Original Screenplay:

"La La Land"
"Nocturnal Animals"
"Manchester By The Sea"
"Hell or High Water"

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language:

"Divines" – France
"Elle" – France
"Neruda" – Chile
"The Salesman" – Iran/France
"Toni Erdmann" – Germany

Best Motion Picture – Animated:

"Kubo and the Two Strings"
"My Life As a Zucchini"

Best Original Song – Motion Picture:

"Can't Stop The Feeling" – "Trolls"
"City Of Stars" – La La Land
"Faith" – Sing
"Gold" – Gold
"How Far I'll Go" – Moana

Best Original Score – Motion Picture:

Nicholas Britell– "Moonlight"
Justin Hurwitz – "La La Land"
Johann Johannsson – "Arrival"
Dustin O'Halloran, Hauschka– "Lion
Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, Benjamin Wallfisch – "Hidden Figures"

Best Television Series – Drama:

"The Crown"
"Game of Thrones"
"Stranger Things"
"This Is Us"

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy:

"Mozart In The Jungle"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama:

Rami Malek – "Mr. Robot"
Bob Odenkirk – "Better Call Saul"
Matthew Rhys – "The Americans"
Liev Schreiber – "Ray Donovan"
Billy Bob Thornton – "Goliath"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama:

Caitriona Balfe – "Outlander"
Claire Foy – "The Crown"
Keri Russell – "The Americans"
Winona Ryder – "Stranger Things"
Evan Rachel Wood – "Westworld"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy:

Anthony Anderson – "Black-ish"
Gael García Bernal – "Mozart in the Jungle
Donald Glover – "Atlanta" 
Nick Nolte – "Graves"
Jeffrey Tambor – "Transparent"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy:

Rachel Bloom – "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – "Veep"
Sarah Jessica Parker – "Divorce"
Issa Rae – "Insecure"
Gina Rodriguez – "Jane the Virgin"
Tracee Ellis-Ross – "Black-ish"

Best Limited Series:

"American Crime"
"The Dresser"
"The Night Manager"
"The Night Of"
"The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for

Riz Ahmed – "The Night Of"
Bryan Cranston – "All The Way"
Tom Hiddleston – "The Night Manager"
John Turturro – "The Night Of"
Courtney B Vance – "The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:

Olivia Colman – "The Night Manager"
Lena Headey – "Game Of Thrones"
Chrissy Metz – "This Is Us"
Mandy Moore – "This Is Us"
Thandie Newton – "Westworld"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:

Felicity Huffman – "American Crime"
Riley Keough – "The Girlfriend Experience"
Sarah Paulson – "The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"
Charlotte Rampling – "London Spy"
Kerry Washington – "Confirmation"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:

Sterling K Brown – "The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"
Hugh Laurie – "The Night Manager"
John Lithgow – "The Crown"
Christian Slater – "Mr. Robot"
John Travolta – "The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"

African Voices Presents The Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival Now in its 16th Year

On the weekend of October 12-13, the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival and Lecture Series celebrated its 16th year at Kumble Theatre in Long Island University. The festival featured various forms of entertainment including 20 films and documentaries, music, and comedy. The festival provided a great atmosphere of culture and creativity among those who were participating, as well as attending.

On Saturday, there were several films and documentaries shown and the featured film “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners” by Shola Lynch. The film told the mystery behind historical figure Angela Davis, who went from being a philosophy professor at the University of California to being FBI’s most wanted in the 1960s. Convicted on three counts consisting of murder, conspiracy, she became a controversial political icon and Lynch captured her journey through the fight to clear her name. Lynch expressed her feelings towards taking on this project stating.

“After I finished making the Shirley Chisholm film, people were asking me what I was going to do next. I said the last thing I’m doing is another film about a woman of color. As being a woman of color I do not want to be pigeonholed. Somehow Angela Davis story kept pricking at me. I kept seeing images of her, someone handed me a book and so here I am again.” Audience members had great reaction to film, one member excitedly expressing “I was aware of who Angela Davis was but it was a broader picture of her life. This film was a more intimate look at who she was”.

This eight-year-in-the-making-production is now creating Oscar buzz.

Another featured film was Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years. This film captured the last few years of the influential African-American lesbian poet. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Lorde resided in West Berlin. She represented the Afro-German movement and played the role of a mentor. Her daughter Elizabeth Lorde-Rollins was very proud of the turnout. Watching her mother’s life through the lens of director Dagmar Schultz’s camera gave her a feel like no other.

“This film was made with such love and respect. There is nothing like Audre Lorde: the Berlin Years, it is a statement about a piece of my mother’s life,” she stated.

Sunday, the festival continued with more films and documentaries. The final event for the night was an award ceremony honoring filmmakers and special awards going to Lynch for Free Angela and Issa Rae for The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl. Mistress of ceremonies was Abiola Abrams. There was also a musical performance by the talented Tamar-kalil on guitar and Juliette Jones on the violin and a comedy stand-up by the very funny MK Lewis. Winners of the awards were What About Us by Deatra Harris, Asa: A Beautiful Girl by Aimiende Negbenebor Sela, El Camino by Raquel Tresvant and Peter Monahan, Sahasi Chori by Erin Galey, and Salty Dogs Blues by Al Santana and Denise Belen Santiago.

Raquel and Peter were in great shock when they won an award because as stated by Raquel, “You make movies for yourself, you never think to be acknowledged for it so this is the cherry on top”.

Special guests at the film were supporters of Reel Sisters, New York City Councilman of the 45th District Jumanne Williams and newly elected New York City councilwoman of the 35th District Laurie A. Cumbo. Williams and Cumbo presented awards to filmmakers and gave their input on the festival. Laurie mentioning that it was a way to “validate, recognize, and celebrate women of the African Diaspora in filmmaking and media. The work is important.”

She also stated, “I’ve been coming to their events since the inception. So this is real exciting for me. The 15th anniversary last year was incredible, and it is really exciting to see the energy grow, and continue on top of such a great legacy. Carolyn Butts is truly dynamic in terms of providing a venue, a vehicle, and a space for African American women and women of the Diaspora to present work that would not be normally seen on television or traditional mainstream media. So it is a great opportunity to be here."

Councilman Williams being the only male on stage expressed how much Reel Sisters meant to him due to it being a part of the arts that he supports completely.

After the ceremony, everyone was invited to have food and drinks in the lobby. The atmosphere was very cultural and inspiring with all of the power felt in the room. It was a great thing to be a part of it and see everyone conversing with one another and enjoying themselves.

Outside of the Festival

Although the festival was for films, there was more than that occurring outside the doors of the theatre. There were exhibition platforms such as the Uchiyami brand, Motown on Broadway, and Beadguiling Jewelry for customers to purchase and enjoy. The Uchiyami brand is a lifestyle brand that sells apparel for men, women, and children, and accessories created earlier this year in May. Making its debut at the Reel Sisters Festival, the team is hoping to accomplish much success in the future. Beadguiling Jewelry by Ife is also hoping for more success in the future, falling in love with beads and making her own creations of bracelets, necklaces, and earrings, since 2006.

What’s Real About Reel Sisters

Reel Sisters was founded by Carolyn A. Butts in 1991. It was originated to give women of color the opportunity to participate in filmmaking. Considering the scarcity of African American women in the industry, Butts provided a platform in which they could display their work to the public.

“I was doing a short film on a poetry movement and I found that when I was trying to get that film in the universe that there was no one who was really receptive to the images that we had there. I found out there were less than one percent of films directed by African-American women.” she expressed.

This was the starting point of the development of Reel Sisters.

Although it is mostly about women, Reel Sisters does cater to the men as well.

On this topic, Butts explained that “we have films that are co-written by men so we’re not totally excluding them. We understand that men have an important role to play so we want to have space for them too.”

Rhonda Haynes, curator for Reel Sisters Festival for four years, expressed her thoughts about the festival.

“I feel real good that Reel Sisters Festival is still around after 16 years and is doing an incredible work that they do for young Black women filmmakers from around the world.”

Catching up with Haynes, she also expressed how global the festival has become through the filmmakers and the films themselves. Reel Sisters has given the opportunity to women filmmakers from all around the world and this year’s Festival featured films from Asia, India, and of course, Africa.

One of the judges of the films shown at the festival Rachel Johnson also expressed her views of Reel Sisters and her role in the process stating that “The Reel Sisters Festival is a wonderful platform for women of color and for audiences looking for new content and bridge the connection with different filmmakers. It is a gift that keeps on giving. I’m honored to be able to help judge some of the films and have the opportunity to give back.”

The 2013 committee included Carolyn A. Butts, Founder/Festival Director; Rhonda Haynes, Film Festival Curator; Patrice Bradshaw, Founding member/Lecture Series Director; Pearl Bowser, Festival Advisor; Pittershawn Palmer, Film Festival Coordinator; Michael Fequiere, Production Manager; Maitefa Angaza, Associate Programming Manager; Nazalima Durham, Education Coordinator; Maat Kesa, Education Coordinator; and Charlene Brown, Volunteer Coordinator.

  • Published in Movies
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