Category: Lavish Movies (Page 1 of 4)

The Problem With Zoe


It’s not that Zoe Saldana is a Latina playing the role of legendary singer Nina Simone. Really, it isn’t. Because we all know that Latinas come in all colors and flavors. But its the fact that Hollywood had to go through such troubling lengths to give off the slightest impression that Ms. Saldana is a Blacker than Black singer. From the blackface and prosthetic nose, to her previous lightweight roles, Zoe Saldana neither carries the weight, soul, or appearance of one of the greatest, soul singers of our time. Did they really think that Nina Simone fans would be down with that? Especially when there are dozens of actresses who could tackle the role with aplomb. It says something when even Ms. Simone’s family disapproves!

BET founder Bob Jonson, whose production company is backing this disaster tries to save face by standing behind the casting decision:

Zoe Saldana delivers an exceptional and mesmerizing tribute to Nina Simone. She gave her heart and soul to the role and displayed her extraordinary talent. The most important thing is that creativity or quality of performance should never be judged on the basis of color, or ethnicity, or physical likeness. Quality entertainment should be measured by the sheer force of creativity and the commitment that an actor or actress brings to the performance. We are proud to distribute the film headlined by Zoe Saldana and David Oyelowo on April 22, 2016.

We’re not buying it. You’d be 1,000 times better off watching the amazing Netflix documentary instead.

Lavish Movies: Chi-Raq New York Premiere

#Chiraqthemovie #putdowntheguns

This is a movie to see. It’s been a long time since Spike Lee put out something that I got hyped about, but he did it with Chi-Raq. Set in Southside Chicago, this film tells the tale of one woman who starts a movement to end the violence, using the oldest and most powerful tool known to mankind: sex.

The film is urgent, arresting and thought-provoking. Based on the Greek play “Lysistrata”, Chir-Raq follows as a group of women, lead by a woman of the same Greek name,  begin a sex strike to convince men of rival gangs to end the gun violence after yet another death of  a child, senselessly murdered by a stray bullet. The film is led by a smart group of actors including, Teyonah Parris, along with Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, Wesley Snipes and Jennifer Hudson among many others.







Following the film premiere was a march led by Al Sharpon and the National Action Network, along with Lee, Nick Cannon, and a host of local leaders from New York and Chicago who shed light on the ongoing plight of gun violence in the inner city.

Chirag_march2 Chiraq_march1

Chi-Raq premieres in theaters December 4.

Artness: Newark Black Film Festival

I stopped by an unusually quiet Newark Museum this past week, and was able to revisit some exhibits that I enjoy the first time around. I caught wind of the Newark Black Film Festival, and got a little giddy with excitement over the offerings:
a film o black photographers, a documentary on Alice Walker and Eartha Kitt, and a lineup of amazing movies for kids on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Catch these flicks, all at the museum:

Though_a_Lens_DarklyThrough A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People
July 8, 7pm

Love Always, Eartha
July 15, 7pm

Newark Museum
49 Washington St,
Newark, NJ 07102

David Oyelowo is Terrifying in Nightingale


Well. That was disturbing.

I think I might even have nightmares. It takes a certain type of talent to carry an entire film with only yourself and a single set, but David Oyelowo, of Selma fame, plays it off to shocking effect. I stumbled upon Nightingale a few nights ago while burning the midnight oil, intent on simply having the movie play in the background while I worked. But I found myself caught up in the gripping tale as I watched Oyelowo’s psychotic character document himself on social media videos, engage in conversations with a mirror, and conjure up elaborate relationships that devastatingly jarred with reality. This film is black, haunting, and unredeeming. You may want to watch this with a friend. And sleep with the lights on.


Lavish Movies: Fresh To Death


In the world of hip-hop, fashion is a language,” says Jenkins, 43. “But I also wanted people to understand the climate and the environment that created hip-hop.
-Sacha Jenkins , director of Fresh Dressed


Fashion has long been a staple in Hip Hop, as far as I can remember. I often reminisce about the cool kids tagging their sneakers and stopping at the airbrush spot in the Colosseum in Jamaica Queens, personalizing their jackets and leather high tops to perfection. I remember how those same street kids inspired the likes of the big fashion houses like Tommy Hilfiger, who turns those styles into multi-million dollar profits, to which little credit was given for the true innovators. Fresh Dressed is a must-see for those interested in the fashionably-inclined leaders of hip hop – you!

Don’t have a local indie theater playing it? You can catch the documentary on

Fresh Dressed from Fresh Dressed Movie on Vimeo.

Lavish Movies: The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete

I have to be really compelled to spend money to see a movie nowadays. Everything seems so overblown, overdone and just plain unrealistic. But when I saw the trailer for this one, I was truly moved. Mister and Pete tells the story of two children brought together by a common mission to find out what happened to their mothers, who seem to have unfortunately gotten wrapped up with the same criminal group as a means to make money. The interesting twist is that the boys, one Black and one East Asian, share this commonality in the environment of the city projects.

The movie stars Jennifer Hudson and Jeffrey Wright, with newcomers Skylan Brooks (playing Mister) and Ethan Dizon (as Pete). Alicia Keys co-produced. The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete debuts in theaters October 11, 2013.

Lavish Movies: Like Someone in Love

Like Someone in Love by Abbas Kiarostami
That song, by Ella Fitzgerald, is the song that opens my Sunday morning playlist. And though this film has nothing to do with the iconic singer, the underlying theme of a john becoming smitten with an escort is old hat and often comical.  I’ve heard so many good things about this indie film, that I’ve added it to my to do list.
The basis of this film a young woman in Tokyo trying to balance life as a prostitute with a john whom she befriends, and her real boyfriend, who has no idea she solicits men for sex. All three parties seem to be in a highly dysfunctional romantic relationship. It sounds too amusing and implausible to miss. Catch this one while you can.
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Three Movies/Docs I Want To See Right Now…

War Witch –  The story of Komona, a 12 year old girl forced to take part in a rebel army in a fictitious African country.

A Place at the Table – A documentary chronicling the very real effects of food insecurity: families who are barely able to make it with the available food they have, and the lack of affordable, nutritional food choices where they live. These people go by unnoticed because they lack the cliche’d appearance of being underfed.

Better Mus’ Come – A love story taking place in 1970’s Jamaica where rival political gangs, used as bloody pawns, wrecked havoc in the streets, ending in the Green Bay Massacre of 1978.

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5 Sundance-Buzzed films I want to see

1. 2 Days in New York, where Chris Rock plays an unlikely romantic lead who meets the family of his French girlfriend.

2. Simon Killer, where rugged hottie Brady Corbet plays a sociopath who befriends a French prostitute ( I promise there isn’t a theme here, just coincidence!)

3. Arbitrage, where perpetual screen romantic Richard Gere plays a Wall Street banker who tries to cover up the accidental death of his mistress

4. For a Good Time, Call, where under-the-radar actress Ari Graynor plays a phone-sex entrepreneur and must devise ever-evolving sexual fetishes for her clients

5. Beast of Southern Wild because 8 year old Quvenzhané Wallis holds the weight of this heavy drama set in storm-torn Louisiana.

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You Should See: Florent: Queen of the Meat Market

If you have ever spent a late night clubbing in the Meatpacking District, there was only one place to go at 4am to help cure the effects of an indulgent drink-a-thon: Florent. Florent was the one restaurant you could go to without having to wait on a line,
or worse, fear being rejected at the door. It was an all-inclusive spot, hence the laid-back vibe. I remember spending many an early morning chowing down on Blueberry pancakes and sausage, while laughing at a drag queen dancing at back room booth. Sadly, the low-key eatery, owned by Florent Morellet, shuttered in 2008.

Florent: Queen of the Meat Market, is a David Sigal directed documentary highlighting the diner’s most famed guests through interviews, photos, sound bites, and videos. It is an homage to the nightlife of the past.

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