KICKS

Review by Carla Renata for UBNRADIO.COM and The Curvy Film Critic

The obsession over sneakers in a documentary Sneakheadz and getting the latest "kicks by any means necessary is real.  Many kids have been killed, beat up even harassed over the type of sneakers they are wearing.

With a debut earlier this year at the Tribeca and LA Film Festivals, KICKS takes it to a whole new level, by putting this controversial subject to a narrative centered around three urban teens.  When one of them is jacked for his Jordans, he and his friends find themselves on a journey to recover the shoes, but not without consequences and repercussions.

Fifteen-year-old Brandon longs for a pair of the freshest sneakers that money can buy and assumes that having them on his feet will help him escape the reality of being poor, neglected by the opposite sex and picked on by everyone -- even his best friends. 

Working hard to get them, he soon finds that these shoes have made him a target after they are snatched by local hood, Flaco.  Flaco has his own issues  that will are revealed when Brandon goes on a mission to retrieve his stolen sneakers with his two best friends in tow.

Produced by the same team that brought us Morris from America, boasting an amazing soundtrack of both hip-hop classics and Bay Area favorites, Kicks creates an authentic and original portrait of a young man drowning in the expectations of being grown and standing his ground for what he believes.

With an impressive screen debut, Jahking Guillory is perfection as Brandon.  Mahershala Ali is having a great year and his portrayal of Flaco is chilling, yet compassionate as a gang-banger Dad with a heart.

Kicks is  a modern-day Boyz in the Hood Air Jordans as the centerpiece.  I could have done without some of the more graphic scenes, but guess they seemed necessary in order to give this film authenticity around its storyline..

As a first time director/screenwriter, Justin Tipping does an admirable job in creating a magical urban tale about friendship, honor and life in Oakland.

Kicks rolls into a theatre near you on September 9th by Focus films.

https://youtu.be/wWV2hK4HVEk

GHOSTBUSTERS

Baby, the Ghostbusters are back with girl power for days.  Whoever thinks girls aren't funny, I'm here to tell you that you are wrong as two left shoes!!! If Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Melissa McCarthy are bringing the funny, proton packs, special gadgets and lighting up the Manhattan sky for the reboot of the 1984 megabit Ghostbusters.

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Two childhood science geeks/authors/former besties reunite over paranormal sightings in New York City.  Sounds familiar right?  Of course, this time its in 3D, the green screen special effects are ramped up a notch and when those ghosts are unleashed it's an experience one is not likely to soon forget.

Abby (Melissa McCarthy) and her business partner Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) team up with Erin (Kristen Wiig) and former MTA token booth clerk Patty (Leslie Jones) to become 'ghostbusters'.

They take on a male receptionist - Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), who is wonderful to look at, but dumb as a box of rocks...lol.  However, when Kevin's body is inhabited by building janitor Rourke (Matt Walsh), things really get a little slow.  Only for a few moments and then the girls are off and running ready to save New York from impending ghostly doom.

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There are some classy and creative star cameos from Andy Garcia as the Mayor to all the Original Ghostbusters cast (Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson).  Of course, those missing are the late Harold Ramis and Rick Moranis (who has retired from acting).

Having collaborated with McCarthy for the fourth time, director Paul Feig really did his best along with producer and Original Ghostbuster creatives Dan Aykroyd and Ivan Reitman to keep the integrity of the first version in tact.  As an enormous Ghostbuster fan, I really appreciated that.  Even the theme song by Ray Parker, Jr., was  fused with a brand new version from Fall Out Boy featuring Grammy winning artists Missy Elliott called "I'm Not Afraid".

I got a little tickled when after posting a few pix last week this young man sent me his version of the Ghosbusters theme with his little toddler pretending to "haunt" Daddy!

Leslie Jones is "laugh out loud" funny and a real smart cookie as Patty.  Her knowledgable history of NYC, it's buildings and subway tunnels make her a force to be reckoned with.  It's so incredibly refreshing to see a black woman in an onscreen comedy who is not just there for the jokes, but to enhance the plot alongside with her co-stars.

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Kate McKinnon as Holtzman is a strange as hell, but in a nerdy, freaky, fun sort of way that just leaves you shaking your head with a smile on your face.

Kristen Wiig is the "straight man" of the quartet and relentless in her sexual harassment of Kevin.  Pure Comedy for sure!!!

Of course, anyone who has EVER read my blog in the past knows that I adore Melissa McCarthy!!!!  She is a "comedy goddess" and can do no wrong in my book and along with her cohorts!  Kudos to Amy Pascal for bringing some girl power to the producing team and I am totally looking forward to the sequel. "I ain't 'fraid of no ghost!!!"

Ghostbusters opens nationwide TODAY - July 15th in a theatre near you!  Don't miss it!!!

FYI...Had the opportunity to attend a special press conference for bloggers and here is an excerpt...

Los Angeles, Ca-- July 8,2016: Bloggers attend a Press Conference at the Press Junket for Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Carla Renata:  Hey Y'all How you doing!

Leslie Jones:  Hey!

Los Angeles, Ca-- July 8,2016: Bloggers attend a Press Conference at the Press Junket for Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Carla Renata:  Hey Girl...it's Carla Renata from CarlaRenatasCorner.com soon to be CurvyCritic.com (massive laughter). But, anywhoo...we were talking a little bit about empowerment.  Being a curvy girl myself I understand challenges that people may have getting dressed for a red carpet or a special event...so I just want you to speak to that if you don't mind.

Leslie Jones:  I've been six feet tall since the 6th grade and had a size 10 foot in 7th Grade.  It was always hard for me to find clothes.  So, for the industry not to make clothes for me, that average woman who actually goes into the store and buys...it kind of pisses me off a little bit.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being curvy.  I'm a size 10 and I use to be a size 14. (based on her look we burst into laugher).  I mean I need y'all to know a b*&%h been working out.  ( more laughter)  It takes a real designer to design for real women who buys your clothes. I know that there's the Kardashians and all that, but there's on ly a small percentage of them.  The big percentage is us the real people.

We have to say something.  You have to speak up.  You have to!  You're spending the money.  You have to say something.  I mean...I don't know... maybe I should shut up (uproarious laughter)

Melissa McCarthy:  It's a very strange thing.  I've always been bewildered.  I think 72% of the American population is I think a size 14 and above.  (To Leslie)  You don't fall in that.  Most stores do not offer it or if it is it's up by the tires.

Leslie Jones:  Um...hmm

Melissa McCarthy:  I'm always bewildered.  What other business goes Oh it's the majority....ok I'm for sure gonna keep you out.  Mean I started a clothing line because I couldn't shop.  I couldn't get stuff.  I had to have stuff made and I thought this is madness.

Carla Renata:  What's the name of your clothing line

Melissa McCarthy:  It's under my name...Melissa McCarthy.  It's  a crazy thing and I think the more you speak out and say like it's NOT the exception.  They're expecting everyone to be the exception.  It's like...NO!  We come in every shape, size, color, height and everything and they should serve that.

Los Angeles, Ca-- July 8,2016: Bloggers attend a Press Conference at the Press Junket for Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Leslie Jones:  I believe that the craziest, wrongest...(chuckling) wrongest.  The most wrong statement that can be made is that's just how it is.  That's just gonna kill us.  There's no such thing as that...stop saying that.  The worst thing that can happen is they say no.

Carla Renata:  Well, alright then (laughter)

Los Angeles, Ca-- July 8,2016: Bloggers attend a Press Conference at the Press Junket for Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Summer of Sequels

by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner.com This summer's box office seems to be relying heavily on a "Summer of Sequels" ranging from Finding Dory to Conjuring 2.  Do some of these films require a second look or are studios just cashing in on the success of days gone by?

I don't know about you, but I could care less what the reason is.  I just want to grab my popcorn and snacks and get my movie groove on...lol.  Take a look at the sequels taking over the screens for the summer of 2016.

FINDING DORY

This flick about the "little fish that could" is shattering box office records, kicking tail and taking names (did you like that one...lol).  Finding Dory has already grossed 400 million dollars making it the fastest and highest grossing animated feature of all time!  Thanks Ellen!

https://youtu.be/3JNLwlcPBPI

INDEPENDENCE DAY:  RESURGENCE

I loved the original Independence Day!  It made a bonafide box office summer star out of Will Smith and was just an overall great film.  This sequel does not have Will Smith and word on the street is that it's just ok.  I guess in some cases, some things are better left alone.  Hope they can at least make their money back and break even.  Don't hate on a sister'...I'm just the messenger...

https://youtu.be/LbduDRH2m2M

CAPTIAN AMERICA:  CIVIL WAR

So, I am all about my action adventure flicks, but what is the need to kill off superheroes this year?  First Superman meets an untimely demise in Batman vs Superman, now this!  Having said that, I heard this one is actually pretty good, but is already on it's way to a Blu-Ray DVD release in September.

https://youtu.be/dKrVegVI0Us

X-MEN:   APOCALYPSE

Having been a publicist in a past life, I have a theory.  Whenever you see a major publicity blitz on a film pre-opening and then the film opens and it's crickets...chances are the film doesn't stand up to tall the hype.  Sad to say that was the case with the X-Men franchise this year.  No Halle, No Wolverine leaves you with things that make you go hmmm...

https://youtu.be/PfBVIHgQbYk

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

The prequel to this did extraordinarily well at the box office.  Although word on the street is that the sequel isn't really that bad, Johnny Depp's personal life eclipsed the film and it's potential at the box office.

https://youtu.be/q5IGdL7h1P4

 

NOW YOU SEE ME 2

According to Variety, “Now You See Me 2 is the kind of sequel that has all but gone out of fashion: a follow-up to a blockbuster so flaky and off-center that even those who made the original probably never expected it to spawn a second chapter."  Boom...enough said

https://youtu.be/kMrUHV0VJe4

 

I'm sure you are starting to see a pattern by now, so I won't bother highlighting the other sequels that include Conjuring @, The Purge 3, Neighbors 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Out of the Shadows.  At the end of the day, if you are a fan of the franchise, it won't matter what the word on the street is.  Which is exactly why I am all over the new Star Trek and Star Wars films due to hit theaters this year.  Having the force be with a trekkie is a beautiful thing.

ROSEANNE FOR PRESIDENT

With Hillary Clinton being the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2016 bid for the most powerful office in the land, we would be remiss if we didn't remember all of the women before her who have run...Geraldine Ferraro, Sarah Palin, Shirley Chisholm, Jill Stein, Carol Moseley-Braun, Cynthia McKinney and Gracie Allen...just to name a few. However, none of them brought as much controversy and skepticism as when Roseanne Barr.

Roseanne is known for a lot of things.  Butchering the National Anthem, being unapologetically opinionated and for producing the first sitcom to show a lesbian kiss on national television.

So, when she announced her candidacy in 2012 for the highest office in the land...The Presidency of the United States, most people chalked it up to a publicity stunt.  After all, her popularity had waned considerable after The Roseanne Show.   Between that, her split from ex-husband Tom Arnold and numerous other shenanigans...could she really be serious.? Yes, indeed she was.

While Obama and Romney were squaring off, Roseanne was encouraged by U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney and film activist Michael Moore to make her voice be heard as the leader of the Green Party.  With both barrels blazing, she hired campaign manager Farheen Hakeem and began strategizing to win the nomination from from-runner Jill Stein.

Apart from her political aspirations and views (which she jokes ended her career), I learned some things about Roseanne I never knew.  Never knew she had been institutionalized for mental health reasons in Provo, Utah or that she hailed from Salt Lake.  Nor did I know her family owned an apartment building full of Jewish refugees or that a brain injury she incurred as a child put her in a coma for five days.  When she had awaken...she awoke to being a completely different person..which probably explains a lot about the Roseanne we have come to know in the media.

Roseanne exudes a vulnerable, sweet side showing her sensitivity to the world around her just like the rest of us.  It's never more noticeable than when she watches her loss to Jill Stein for the Green Party nom  149 - 36.  But, of course, we are treated to the Roseanne we have come to love when we watch her puffing on a blunt while passing a cop car...lol

Running for any political office is daunting, but when you are a personality as controversial as Roseanne - it takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there despite the consequences or results.

If you haven't seen this documentary...take a look, learn, be educated and surprised.  Roseanne For President made its debut at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and will be released on July 1st in Los Angeles (Sundance Sunset Cinema), New York (IFC Center) and available on VOD/Digital Platforms.

 

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHlJwPeFJ28[/embed]

 

Float Like A Butterfly - Sting Like A Bee - R.I.P Muhammad Ali

Back in St. Louis, Missouri, our house sat right in back of a drive-in movie theater.  We would hop over the fence, turn up the speakers that weren't being used, grab some lawn chairs, popcorn, snacks, blankets and watch the movie with our whole block sitting on the lawn. One of the films I remember vividly watching was "The Greatest" with Muhammad Ali.  Ali was bigger than life in generosity, kindness, boxing skills and personality.  He truly was "The Greatest of All Time".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYdTtn0UI3w

Over this past weekend, Muhammad Ali lost his battle with Parkinson Disease.  Even after his organs failed, his heart continued to beat strongly for 30 minutes, which is so indicative of how strong-willed the spirit of this champ was for the decades.  He never gave up.

Ali denounced his “slave name” (Cassius Marcellus Clay, which was also his father’s name), the Christian religion and famously refused to serve in the Army stating “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong.”A life decision which was not popular, but when did Ali ever care about what was popular and what was not.  He lived his life on his terms...without regret.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vd9aIamXjQI

Sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for his refusal to comply with the draft, Ali was fined $10,000.  With his boxing license revoked and not allowed to box in the very prime of his career, the State Department even took away his passport to restrict him from fighting outside the country.  Yet, Ali once again bounced back.

After a trilogy of infamous Frazier/Ali fights and a devastating final loss, to the much-younger Trevor Berbick, the champ retired in 1981 after 61 fights, with 56 wins.   Muhammad Ali was not the greatest "black boxer", but simply the greatest athlete to grace that sport.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55AasOJZzDE

His life has been documented on film several times, most famously in the bio pic Ali, which earned Will Smith a Oscar  nomination.

In my opinion, he was an OG rapper..  Check him out, spinning rhymes as only Muhammad Ali could do.

[embed]https://youtu.be/WsAC4lhbE0g[/embed]

Check out these films, which illustrate the spirit and dogged determination of a man we came to know and love for decades as the "Greatest of All Time"  R.I.P. Muhammad Ali

Here are a few other flicks about the champ...

The Greatest...  Thus was the one time Ali attempted to act by portraying himself in a story of his very colorful life.  The song, "The Greatest Love of All", originally recorded by George Benson, but was immortalized by the late, great Whitney Houston.

 

[embed]https://youtu.be/IYzlVDlE72w[/embed]

[embed]https://youtu.be/_ec0NNjCMuQ[/embed]

There was a documentary released early this year on Ali, which features interviews and commentary from his daughter Laila Ali, Common, Sugar Ray Leonard and many more...

[embed]https://youtu.be/9f-PTBOPo6Y[/embed] RIP DEAR BROTHA' MUHAMMAD...You really ARE the GREATEST OF ALL TIME❤️

Chi-Raq

Spike Lee has been in the news a lot lately for #OscarsSoWhite, his love-letter documentary that premiered at Sundance - Michael Jackson:  The Journey From Motown to Off The Wall and  Chi-Raq.  With Chi-Raq, Spike puts a modern spin melting gun violence in America with the ancient Greek play “Lysistrata.” which results in a classic battle of the sexes with women putting a lockdown on that sweet spot.

So incase y'all are not hip to Lysistrata...homegirl persuades the women of the Spartan and Trojan gangs to swear off sex with their men until the fighting ceases.

It wouldn't be a Spike Lee joint without some war council scenes with the women or trash talking scenes with the men.  All of that is enhanced tied together with Samuel L. Jackson's narration and a raw, original score by Nick Cannon who stars alongside the beautiful Teyonnah Parris.

What I adore about Spike is that he always keeps it real and cast actors that are not only at the top of their game, but are physically reflective of the people of color I see when I walk out my front door.  It's written in prose just as the Greek fables are told and your really have to pay attention to catch the ingenious quips in the dialogue.  Trust me it is well worth the journey.

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It was also refreshing to see some old Spike Lee Joint fav's who quite frankly without Spike  casting them in "Do The Right Thing", "Mo Better Blues", "Jungle Fever" and more it may have taken us a little longer to be introduced to their talents (Wesley Snipes, Samuel L. Jackson, Roger Guenveur Smith).

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My favorite scenes involve a full-scale musical version of the women kinda breaking it down for the men about their chastity belts and a eulogy given by Father Mike Corridan (John Cusack).  Cusack is so compelling in this scene and proves once again why he continues to work in this medium on a grand scale.  Jennifer Hudson's moment as grieving  Mom Irene reminds us all that her Oscar win for "Dreamgirls" was not a fluke.  Mama got chops all day long!!!!

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Chi-Raq received four NAACP Image Award nominations and was honored by #AAFCA landing in its TOP TEN and a Best Actress nod for its leading lady Teyonnal Parris is arriving now available for purchase at all Digital HD retailers as well as, select digital platforms such as Amazon, Vudu, Xbox, Playstation, Google Play and MGO. Blu-ray + Digital HD and DVD + Digital.

Click below to watch the trailer...

Chi-Raq Trailer

Los Angeles Film Festival 2016: The House on Coco Road

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Let's rewind just a tad.  Back in America, Fannie Haughton was a UCLA student who had befriended a young, innovative professor.  A professor who was about to become a fugitive and on the FBI's Most Wanted List whose name was Angela Davis.  After witnessing such injustices and watching yet another group of young people...people of color be jailed and murdered as part of the Black Panther movement and Reagan's war on drugs.  Haughton, scooped up her boys and moved to Granada, which in comparison seemed like paradise.

In 1979, the people of Grenada carried out the first successful  Revolution in the English speaking Caribbean culminating in Maurice Bishop becoming Prime Minister. Meet Fannie Haughton.

In 1982 Angela Davis, her family, and Haughton visited Grenada to witness the Peoples’ Revolution. In 1983 two events pop off.  Fannie is offered a position in the Ministry of Education. While she scoops up her kids, leaves Oakland and moves to Grenada,  America led a military invasion following the assassination of Grenadian Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop.

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Hiding under the bed for three days as bombs shook the island, Fannie and her kids lives were changed forever. Nearly sixteen years later Fannie's son Damani Baker returned to Grenada  and began shooting a documentary, searching for a story that felt untold and unfinished.

Little did she and the boys know that less than a year later, she and her family would be hiding under a bed from the very same government she left in America.  Their existence in paradise would be over.

After discovering some family super 8 footage of his grandmother in rural Louisiana on the land their family sharecropped, Baker began to unravel his mother’s path to activism. During this process,  Damani began to understand why his Mom and her friends put their lives on the line in order to build a better world. You may not know their names, but they have changed the course of history. 

With so many historical stories in the forefront, the black lives matter movement, #oscarsowhite and Donald J. Trump threatening  to build a wall for illegal immigrants...The House on CoCo Road is right on time.

It's fascinating how politicians twist the facts for their own agendas without any regard for the lives their decisions will affect. Fortunately, for Haughton, Davis, Baker and so many others have been able to move forward and this chapter of their life is now a footnote.  However, Damani has has blown the lid off of the Reagan administration' ulterior motives while carefully crafting this shocking, yet compelling story.

Nowadays, Angela Davis still speaks out on injustice, but does so from her classroom at the University of California in Santa Cruz in the Feminist Studies Department.  Damani's Mom, Fannie Haughton, has a doctorate and continues to be an educator.

The House on Coco Road premieres on June 2nd at the Los Angeles Film Festival which runs from June 1  9.

https://vimeo.com/119729008

 

ROOTS: Slavery Saga or History Lesson

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Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and Carla Renata's Corner.com

There is a lot of talk about Roots today and will be for the rest of the week and the other episodes hit the airwaves  For those of you who are not award, please let me educate you and make you think.

Alex Haley's Roots inspired millions of Americans (not just people of color) to look into their ancestry as a means to discover the origins of their family history.

In my own personal quest, I connected with  and remain close with a cousin who now lives in Japan, discovered some historic info about my family and learned that some of my relatives made their living as bee keepers.  All as a result of searching my own "roots".

Historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  even had a show on NBC called "Who Do You Think You Are", in which numerous celebrities had their ancestry researched and aired on national television.  Some results were downright stunning.

Genealogy is the origin from which Roots was born and inspired from, so it is very difficult to listen to masses of people complain about it being a story about slaves.  Slavery is definitely at the forefront of the story, but NOT the main subject.  Roots is a story about how despite the odds, Kunte Kinte, a Mandinka warrior snatched from his homeland, rose above adversity to create a positive legacy for his family.  A family that included Alex Haley.

So, on the subject of slavery, I'ma need folks to calm down!!!

Do you hear people of Jewish descent complaining about a holocaust film every other year?  No. Why?  They understand that for history NOT to be repeated one needs to be aware and remember its existence.  There are actually some schools in this country that are trying to rewrite slavery in America calling it a "migration of Africans to America seeking a better life". Really???!!!  I think not!  This is simply a bold-faced lie.  A migration would suggest Africans were NOT chained like animals on a ship, branded and sold as property.  Let there be no mistake about it...Slavery was anything BUT a migration.

I was one of the 130 million that watched Roots the when it aired on ABC all those years ago.  Back then, you couldn't re-watch it on a DVR, live-stream or even catch it on the internet.  If you didn't see it in real time...you simply missed out.  When I tell you,  going to school the next day was one of the most uncomfortable days in my life...is NO exaggeration.  Roots was the talk of every workplace, school and social settings, just as it is now.

The only difference now is simply the internet.  After the first episode aired last evening, the "twitterers" and internet were buzzing with opinionated reviews of Roots.  Here's my opinion and before you get you pants in a wad...remember this is just that..an opinion.

Roots, which aired its first episode last night simultaneously on A&E, Lifetime and the History Channel pulled in 8.5 million viewers.  The original, which aired on ABC pulled in 130 million viewers.  Not only that, but Roots single-handedly birthed a new genre of television in the 70's (Lonesome Dove, The Thornbirds, Rich Man - Poor Man).

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The new look at Roots, which begins with the abduction in Africa of Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby) and spans decades to include the American Civil War, is unfolded over four consecutive nights, with a different director helming each night, including Phillip Noyce, Mario Van Peebles, Thomas Carter and Bruce Beresford.

In an era dealing with young black men randomly being gunned down, Black Lives Matter and Donald J. Trump promising to build a wall to "keep the Mexicans/illegals" out  of American, films like Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation,  WGN America's Underground and the reboot of Roots are more timely than ever.

Shot in various locations including South Africa and Louisiana, you heart can't help but break when Kunta Kinte is being whipped for refusing to abandon his Mandinka name for the slave name "Toby".  That one scene clocks in at four minutes.  Four minutes of watching  blood splatter to the ground, skin being burst like over ripe fruit, others slaves, overseers, etc... looking on yet turning away in horror and in silence.  Seeing this scene now, with so much life experience behind me than when I watched as a teenager, stirred up feelings that had been suppressed for decades.  I pray that this generation of people watch and watch intently to learn of a history that is slowly disappearing from America.  A history that should never be forgotten.

The first episode felt a little slow in some spots, but was still compelling mostly due to the performances of Malachi Kirby and Forrest Whittaker.  The producers (Mark Wolper, LeVar Burton and Will Packer) make a point in stating a disclaimer reminded viewers that there is "intense language of the time period" involved.

I trust that LeVar Burton (the original "Kunte Kinte" actor who was an unknown when shooting the 1977 miniseries) will treat the legacy Alex Haley left with the dignity, honor and respect it deserves.  Will 85% of households be watching this time? No, but this time around Roots will have a different impact.  Roots is not just about slavery, the "N-word" or pain.  It's about the courage and survival of a group of people who are resilient.

Please watch with your family, friends and every young person you can gather.  Make sure they know now that slavery, just like the holocaust and Pearl Harbor are events that should always be remembered.  If you missed last night, no worries...each episode will re-air right before the current one

Keep your eyes peeled for Emayatzy Corinealdi and Anika Noni Rose in the future installments. These young women are forces to be reckoned with and will no doubt re recognized for their brilliance along with their co-stars Malachi Kirby and Forest Whitaker.

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Don't be silent on this one.  Le me hear from you and what  you feel.  Let's keep the conversation going for the next generation.  Remember I will respect and honor your opinion in the same manner in which you have allowed me to express mine.

 

To get the conversation jumpstarted...watch this video of journalist Roland Martin "going in" on Snoop Dogg for his suggested "boycott" of the miniseries.

https://youtu.be/JPblzKoM7CE

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxmw4gccqnA

 

BLACK GIRL

Review of Black Girl for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner  

In 2015, Cannes Film Festival screened and re-released a digitally restored version of’s first feature film from 1966 -  Black Girl.  Black Girls single-handedly opened the way for African cinema in the West.

Diounna is a girl from Senegal.  Diounna is stylish, classy, sophisticated and a woman on a mission to help her family have a better life.  That opportunity presents itself when she is invited by her mistress to leave Dakar and move to France.  However, the "glamourous life" Diounna envisioned becomes a cruel form of modern-day slavery.  Diounna's dreams are never realized and depression becomes her daily existence.

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While African-Americans here in the America were fighting for equal "civil" rights, our brothers and sisters across the ocean were fighting undercover modern-day slavery.  How could this be allowed to happen and why?  Who thought this was a good idea and why was this considered Ok?Why were white people so fascinated by people of color in terms of our women and how we cook, but then afraid to go to Africa for fear of being caught up in a "civil war"?

Not much has changed, only now the fascination is with our style and our music.

Yes, I was fascinated and infuriated at such behavior.  When will folks learn that we are ALL HUMAN BEINGS!!!!  We are not property to be coveted and bragged about.  We have families, feelings and want the best for our loved ones like anyone else.

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Can we really say that this behavior has changed much from 1969 to 2016?  Yes and No...the answer is totally subjective depending on who you are and what your experience in life has turned out to be.

Black Girl recently screened at BAMcinematek during May in New York and can now be streamed online via YouTube and purchased on DVD.

 

 

 

[embed]https://youtu.be/XRNevX2AJ3Q?list=PL74SzDMhogDUxzBCe2NgHTbYcfOrcxt4A[/embed]

 

 

Remember Our Troops: Memorial Day Flicks To Watch

Memorial Day is often confused with Veteran's Day.  Many of you are probably wondering what the difference is?  Memorial Day is to honor those slain in the line of duty or as a result of wounds sustained in battle while serving their country.  Veteran's Day is the day in which we take time to thank ALL veterans for their service to our country. Now, if your plans to commemorate those who lost their lives include a picnic, cookout or some type of party - BE SAFE.  However, if you choose to do so quietly at home with loved ones or friends, here some flick you might want to check out...

STRIPES

While on a USO/DOD tour, having just performed for the troops, we were invited to attend a screening of Stripes.  It was hilarious!!!  The guys would laugh at stuff that clearly was an inside joke and when they shared it with us we chuckled too!  Baby, when Bill Murray says "Razzle Dazzle" we would howl!!!  If you haven't seen it, the film kinda makes fun of all the serious things one identifies with regarding the military.  Unlike some of the other films, I mention, this one will really bring a smile to your face.

 

[embed]https://youtu.be/bOfZZuygTck[/embed]

 

THE MESSENGER

Having several members of the military in my family, but never having lost any of them to war - this film was probably the hardest for me to watch.  I can't even imagine being the family that receives this type of news, however, have you ever thought of the anguish and sorrow that comes along with the person delivering the news.  Woody Harrelson gives one of his many stellar performances in this film.

[embed]https://youtu.be/1tTIQ8pkGf0[/embed]

 

 

 

SAVING PRIVATE RYAN

Steven Spielberg, Matt Damon, Tom Hanks and the storming of Normandie...that is all

[embed]https://youtu.be/8EsVtn2GvBo[/embed]

 

 

PLATOON

Before Charlie Sheen's shenanigans and being known for "winning", he gave an award worthy performance in Oliver Stone's war masterpiece...

[embed]https://youtu.be/hGsyEkfjhQk[/embed]

 

 

GLORY

Denzel Washington earned his first of two Oscar wins alongside Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freeman in this unforgettable flick about the first all-black company to fight in the Civil War

[embed]https://youtu.be/8XuUGD7aa3E[/embed]

 

 

 

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Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, affects almost 30 percent of the 834,467 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans treated through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Consumed by anger and traumatic memories long after their return, soldiers often resort to drugs or suicide to end their suffering.

Filmmaker Laurent Bécue-Renard provides a searing account of how the disorder has affected veterans and their families in Of Men and War. The film offers an unparalleled look at the enduring consequences of PTSD and the role treatment can play in helping soldiers reclaim their lives. An Official Selection of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, the documentary has its national broadcast premiere during the 29th season of POV (Point of View) on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, 2016 at 10 p.m. on PBS. (Check local listings.)

IMG_5584 Of Men and War is a production of Alice Films.

Of Men and War Trailer

THE UNKNOWNS

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THE UNKNOWNS reveals the training of the elite group of soldiers at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. These Sentinel's guard the Tomb 24 hours a day, 365 days a year through snow, heat, and rain to honor those that have fallen in the line of duty to grant us the freedoms that we enjoy today.
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THE UNKNOWNS is produced by Army Veterans Ethan Morse and Neal Schrodetzki. Because they both had the honor of serving at the Tomb, they were given an unprecedented level of access from the US Army, allowing them to bring a unique perspective to the rigorous and intricate training process that soldiers must endure to be stationed there. The film is also produced by Matthew Little and executive produced by Mark Joseph (Reagan, The Vessel, America: Imagine the World Without Her).

[embed]https://youtu.be/7sToKMDso_E[/embed]

BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT

  Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com  and CarlaRenatasCorner.com

 

Rapper turned actor/producer Ice-Cube is already having a great year!  AAFCA (African-American Film Critics Association) honored his film 'Straight Outta Compton" and now he's back in the third installment of his hit film "Barbershop".

This one takes a serious tone focusing more on the unprecedented violence in Chicago than on the jokes.  Even Anthony Anderson's character is a little more straight-laced.

Faced with the violence finally hitting the block where the barbershop is, Calvin (Ice-Cube) is once again faced with the decision of moving the shop or giving it up altogether.  As it that weren't enough, the son who was a baby in the first installment is now a teen on the verge of joining a gang just to fit in.  So, the shop gets the gangs to hold s truce for 48 hours in hopes of getting the violence under control if only for a little while.

Barbershop wouldn't be the same without its old standby's Eddie (Cedric The Entertainer),       Terri (Eve) , who is now married to Rashad lushly played by my celebrity crush Common and the young politician/barber trying to make a difference Jimmy (Sean Patrick Harris).  However, the new blood infused fits right on in like my girl Nicki Minaj as Draya, Regina Hall as Angie, Margot Bingham as Bree, Tyga as Yummy, Jamal Woolard as Marquis is giving you Suge Knight in look and presence, Deon Cole as that one customer that don't know how to go home (Dante) is hilarious, New Girl's Lamorne Morris (Jerrod) and Raja (Utkarsh Ambudkar)  and JB Smoove as One-Stop provide much of the comic relief this time around.

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The young men playing Jalen (Michael Rainey , Jr.) and Kenny (Diallo Thompson) are turning in some stellar work and their scenes are some of the most poignant and heartwarming of the film

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Barbershop:  The Next Cut drives home the point of the senseless shootings when one of the "good ones' happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This wasn't my favorite in the franchise, but I applaud the efforts of the cast, Cube, directors Malcolm D. Lee and "Black'ish" writer Kenya Barris for throwing this issue in America's face and making them think if only for a minute what they could do to curb the problem instead of adding fuel to the fire.

Barbershop:  The Next Cut is in theaters NOW!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2vPDGStL4k

TFF 2016: Children of the Mountain

img_4942 Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner.com

 

It's unfortunate that we live in a world where when you are different or special, that characteristic is not always celebrated or looked upon positively.

As we complete a weekend where the world has lost one of the most different voices in the music industry ever (PRINCE), it suffices to say that being different is sometimes the greatest gift one can be given.

In Ghana, Africa and with most men around the world, nothing pleases them more than having a son to carry on the family name.  They take great pride in that accomplishment.  However, when a that same child is born with a deformity, it is seen as a curse and the woman carrying the child is blamed for the unfortunate circumstances.

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Priscilla Anany, the writer/director/producer  in her cinematic debut of the Tribeca Film Festival  Jury winning film "Children of the Mountain" is a cinematic and storytelling genius!  Often times with these types of films, we see the after effects of a deformity from only the point of view of the child.  Very rarely is the story mostly focused on the mother and her mental state under such a painful and emotionally challenging time.  The guilt, shame, disappointment is usually always played under the surface, but Anany hangs this mother's feelings out in the yard like laundry drying on a line in the hot summer heat.

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As many of  you know who read my blog, I watch hundreds of films and attend a multitude of film festivals, but this film right here had me in the ugly cry and I literally had to pull myself together before sitting down to pen my thoughts.

There is nothing worse than loving someone unconditionally only to have them light your feelings up in flames for all to see and judge.  Essuman would have done anything for Edjah.  She laid with him out-of-wedlock, had his child and still believed that he would come back and be her family.

Essuman (Rukeyat Masud) is having an affair with Edjah (Adjetey Anang) when she finds herself pregnant.  When the child is born with a cleft palate and multiple sclerosis, Essuman struggles to find clarity and peace while attempting to obtain healing for Nuku from spiritual leaders, medicine men and hospitals after being abandoned by his father.

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It's only when he calls the baby a monster, blames her and literally dismisses any feelings she might have that she slips into a deep depression resulting in the unthinkable.  postpartum depression is real and will make a woman react in a way that she never sees coming. Fortunately, she finds love again and her future suddenly doesn't seem so bleak and unlivable.

Every single actor in this film turns in breathtaking performances to where I forgot I was watching actors in a performance.  Anany's writing is so poignant and realistic that it draws you into the story from the first frame.  I, for one can't wait to see what she does next and hopefully have the opportunity to work alongside her.

To find out more about where to see ChildreN of the MountaiN, you can go to www.facebook.com/childreNofthemountaiN

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVN94jOegx8

TFF 2016: Murder, Madonna, Murphy and more

The overall theme for the 2016 Tribeca Fim Festival was a little more serious this year in tone and in film selections/screenings.  From the Opening Night film "The First Monday In May" to the tribute of Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" to the Closing night film "The Bomb" the films were mostly thought provoking and emotional. Here is my take on a few films that I happen to squeeze in:

STARRING AUSTIN PENDLETON

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I was intrigues to find out who the actor was that has earned the respect of such peers as Meryl Streep, Ethan Hawke, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and many many more.  What I discovered is that I actually know who Austin Pendleton was, but he is such a chameleon of an actor that I didn't realize it.  For those of  you who are reading and wondering who I am talking about, if you have ever seen "My Cousin Vinny", Austin turns in a performance as a stuttering lawyer that will leave you in stitches.  That's only ONE of his films!!!!

When I asked him about that film he told me that he took that particular role as favor to a friend and joked that as a real life stutterer, it is ironic that he recognized for that role more so than any other.  Ironic...isn't it?  Like fellow thespian James Earl Jones, he began acting to hide his stuttering.

Touted as the "the most famous actor you've never heard of", this entertaining do has Austin reflected on his career while his A-list peers discuss what it's like to be an original in a celebrity obsessed, social media driven world of entertainment.  When I asked Austin about his social media presence he jokingly remarked, "If I have a Twitter account...I don't know about it".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=589UM006TYM

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cYyttDLdL4

 

STRIKE A POSE

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Honey, who can forget that "Vogue" video by Madonna?  It's iconic and whenever someone says "Strike A Pose", you can't help but hit one and think of homegirl and that famous "Truth or Dare" movie.

Well, Directors Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan didn't forget how to strike a pose and the lasting impression inspired them to seek out Madonna's infamous dancers and find out what they are up to now.  Kevin Stea, Oilver Crumes III, Carlton Wilborn, Jose Guiterrez, Luis Camacho, Sue Trupin and Salim Gauwloos lives were changed by the "Blonde Ambition" tour and its accompanying "Truth or Dare" documentary.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Hqh7lwaNKw

https://youtu.be/-V8-r6wBmV4

THE FAMILY FANG

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How does one move on being the center of a performance artist group with your parents?  Caleb (Christopher Walken) and Camille Fang (Maryann Plunkett) are celebrated and controversial performance artists whose work revolved around staging elaborate scenes with innocent bystanders featuring their young children.  As they age, their work starts to suffer, so when they go missing under mysterious circumstances, their children set out to discover their whereabouts.

Annie (Nicole Kidman) is convinced her parents have staged another performance piece and Baxter (Jason Bateman) is worried that the worst has occurred.  Bateman, in his follow up directorial debut of "Bad Words" does a spectacular job of telling the story of a dysfunctional family with humor and realism that makes The Family Fang very enjoyable to watch.

https://youtu.be/uhF7M1HHADo

A KIND OF MURDER

Being a huge Hitchcock and Patricia Highsmith ("Carol") fan, this film was on my radar from day one and it did not disappoint.  Based on Highsmith's 1960 thriller ("The Blunderer"), investigates how quick one is jump to conclusions of guilt or innocence.  Architect Walter Stackhouse and his wife Clara have a troubled marriage, but is it troubled enough for Walter to commit murder?  On the other side of town Kimball is accused of murdering his wife and regularly harrassed by the cops.  Did he or didn't he do it? Susan Boyd does a spectacular job of weaving that edge of your seat Hitchcock style with the brilliant story telling of Patricia Highsmith into a  fascinating game of cat and mouse.

On the carpet, I asked Susan (hypothetically, of course) what her method of murder would be and this is what she had to say...

https://youtu.be/AzeyNxBc_nk

CHILDREN OF THE MOUNTAIN

This film won the Jury Award at Tribeca and deservedly so.  It had me in the ugly cry and mo beyond words or tears.  Check out the review and click  below

TFF 2016: CHILDREN of the MOUNTAIN

I also had the opportunity to watch several shorts and docs.  My favorite doc was Southwest of Salem and favorite shows were You Can Go and Mildred & The Dying Parlor

SOUTHWEST OF SALEM

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Directed by Deborah S. Esquenazi, "Southwest of Salem" explores the case of what would known as the San Antonio Four.  In 1994 four women were accused, tried and convicted of assaulting two young girls.  Twenty years later these women maintain their innocence, citing that the accusations against them were fabricated and were perpetrated from the homophobic prejudice surrounding lesbians and that lifestyle leading to covens, cults and child abuse.

It is heartbreaking to watch this women railroaded, much like the subject of the Netflix series "The Making of a Murderer".  It tore several families apart and ruining some relationships beyond repair.

Not having seen the film when I spoke to the ladies and while offering congrats on they release, they were quick to remind me that, "it's not over yet...we could still go back to prison".  Let's hope not, so that these beautiful women and get on with the little bit of life they have left to enjoy.

https://youtu.be/f3ALTVinsi0

YOU CAN GO

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Gun violence in this county is a real problem. It has made Americans paranoid to attend a large film opening, send their kids to school or even big outside in a big crowd.  Directed by Christine Turner, we watch  in horror as a high school administrator (S. Epatha Merkerson) talks down a troubled student (Charlie Tahan).  Upon first glance, I thought this was a film about a guidance session with a student brought in for counseling.  It wasn't until I heard a gun cocked that I realized this was a hostage situation of an administrator versus a student.

S. Epatha is a master at establishing a calm presence in the most dire of circumstances on screen and this performance is no different.  However, Charile Tahan effectively conveys the confusion, hurt and overall emotional merry-go-round a student experiences in this stressful situation that can ultimately effect his life and anyone he may come in contact with.

This is a film that should be shown on a grand level.  If nothing else, but to  let those students contemplating such a horrible act see how lives can be affected in an instant.

MILDRED AND THE DYING PARLOR

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Who doesn't love a good fairy tale?  Alex Gaynor very slickly take Little Red Riding Hood and turns the fable into a narrative taking place in a dying parlor (which is exactly what you think that means).  Starring Zosia Mamet,  Jane Krakowski, Steve Buscemi and Evan Jonnigkeit, one who enjoys a dark twisted version of the famous fable will get a kick out of this one.

https://youtu.be/JUgi75BVnB0

 

 

 

HBO's CONFIRMATION

Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner.com File_002 Separate but equal is a phrase often synonymous with the Civil Rights Movement. However, the phrase took on a very different meaning when it came to the Clarence Thomas hearings, in which a college professor, Anita Hill accused the future Supreme Court justice of sexual harassment. The hearings was so intense and popular that even SNL parodied them with a skit in which Chris Rock introduces himself as "long dong silver".

Sexual harassment is no laughing matter. Having been in this situation with a former boss and a former colleague, I can testify that as a woman you are frightened. Frightened that you will be called a liar. Frightened that your reputation will be forever tarnished. Frightened that your own self-respect comes into question. Most of all, you are frightened that if you tell or speak up that the person you are accusing will come for you not just emotionally, but physically. No people sexual harassment is not laughing matter or a day at the beach.

Unfortunately, Anita Hill found this out the hard way. Her reputation was tarnished. Hill lost her job, friends and the respect of some her colleagues. What she did not lose was her dignity and self-respect. In addition, she gained thousands of admirers. You see, she became the face for those who were afraid and her actions now gave them to the courage to no longer sit back and remain a victim. The number of women that became elected to political office after those hearings was staggering and now America finds herself in a position to actually elect a woman as President of the United States. My,,,how times have changed...sort of. We still have Clarence Thomas who I wouldn't be surprised is a staunch supporter of Donald Trump. The thought of it all make me cringe.

HBO's "Confirmation" takes us back to that time when Anita accused, Thomas denied and hearings were led by now Vice-President Joe Biden.

Kerry Washington as Anita Hill is spectacular. She is much more contained than her character on ABC's "Scandal" and nails the vocal nuances of Hill's emotionally cracked voice, as well as, the grace, quiet fire and subtly when Hill finally does let her veneer armour crack. Washington may finally get that Emmy that has eluded her thanks to this polished performance.

As we know, Olivia Pope on Scandal is loosely based on Judy Smith, a "crisis management expert". Interestingly enough, Smith was White House Press Secretary for the George H. Bush administration and played a rather large role in countering Anita Hill's claims of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas in the media. I guess all that suffices to say that Washington was born to inhabit this role.

Wendell Pierce, often known for being the cherubic comedic relief in many of his projects (Remember him in "Waiting to Exhale" or on the CBS sitcom The Odd Couple?), plays Thomas with an iciness that is reminiscent of the Supreme Court justice seen during that time. Pierce might want to polish off his mantle for a little gold as well.

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Director Rick Famuyiwa and Writer Susannah Grant compliment and enhance each other's strengths. Grant, known for writing numerous projects where women are at the forefront (Erin Brockovich, Pocahontas, Ever After, In Her Shoes), is the perfect off-screen partner for Fumuyiwa, who has written about the African-American experience from every vantage point ranging from the hip hop world to interracial marriage to coming of age stories (Dope, The Wood, Brown Sugar). Together, they make "Confirmation" very enjoyable and educational to watch for those who weren't privy to watching this in real time.

As we now know, Thomas and Hill's refusal to continue testimony brought the hearings to a screeching halt and allowed Thomas to be sworn in as a Supreme Court justice. Anita Hill became popular on the lecture circuit and continues to inspire women all over the world.

If you don't have HBO and are not able to catch "Confirmation" check out this documentary on Anita Hill and the review I wrote up on it...

Review: ANITA (Anita Hill Documentary)

Anita Hill

Here is the trailer for CONFIRMATION

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHIvZuypso4

CHELSEA DOES

Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner.com I have to admit...I have a little girl crush on Chelsea Handler.  She's hot, hilarious and mad-honest...not to mention that she dated 50-Cent!  I know right??!!!

Well, nowadays, Chelsea teamed up with Netflix to do a four-hour documentary series on the subjects of Marriage, Silicon Valley, Racism and Drugs. As we have all come to know Chelsea over the years, we know that she holds no prisoners...including herself!   She shoots straight from the hip and delves into each category with both barrels blazing!

CHELSEA DOES MARRIAGE...

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Marriage and relationships are looked at from every angle possible...gay, straight, lesbian, adulterers and even gets some advice for herself from some pre/middle schoolers.  Some of my favorite moments were her officiating at the Little White Chapel in Las Vegas to her grilling her Dad on liking black women to interviewing the owners of the controversial Ashley Madison.

https://youtu.be/Q166PYuQdc4

CHELSEA DOES SILICON VALLEY...

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Like most people nowadays with technology it can be über overwhelming!  Chelsea is no different.  She's confused, frustrated and hates streaming...anything.  Not to mention the fact that she's convinced gadgets never work when they are in her possession...lol.

An intimate, yet engaging conversation with friends about what age they all felt their kids should be given cell phones was hilarious to say the least with some really good points made along the way.  The Silicon Valley installment is complete with explanations of algorithm's, kids who know how to code, App development class and even a Digital Detox retreat.  All of it teaches us the lesson of the more technology increases, so does the expectation of one's productivity level.

https://youtu.be/940MMD1Il5E

CHELSEA DOES RACISM...

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What can I say?  Racism for all practical purposes its just plain stupidity magnified in every living human being ignorant enough to give it energy.  This is the major reason I loved the fact that this installment was included.  It points out the obvious while throwing the facts right tin your face!  Complete with Al Sharpton interviews, a visit to the Middleton Place Plantation to meetings with leaders from all the races and organizations that fight against all racism and stereotypes.

How far have we come?  Not far.  There are actually southerners who believe that not all slaves were treated badly or whipped.  Black Americans who are relieved that they can complement a white woman without fear of being jailed or lynched.  What was most heartbreaking was a montage of all the black teens killed over the years with President Obama singing Amazing Grace in the background.

Chelsea doesn't stop there.  She goes to an Indian reservation, speak with her Dad and a former Israeli President regarding the percussion of Jews throughout history.  Most importantly, the point is made that millions of people have come to America only to have their heritage lost, miscommunication and misunderstood.

https://youtu.be/MeISuq2wn0s

CHELSEA DOES DRUGS...

Only Chelsea Handler would start out a docuseries chapter with the most infamous cannabis speaker of all time...Willie Nelson!  I loved it and I will just leave it there to infuse your curiosity for the remainder in the series.  I, for one, would love to see her do another docuseries in this format.  It was fun, enlightening, scary, but most of all hella educational.  I wish there were more humans on this earth as enlightened, honest and curious as Chelsea Handler.  She gives me hope that humanity has the potential to do better in this world.

https://youtu.be/SepeswVPDRs

You can catch-all four chapters of Chelsea Does streaming on Netflix NOW...maxresdefault.jpg

THE REVENANT

Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner.com. Ok...I have to admit , when I heard there was a massive scene involving a bear and my beloved Leo, my interest in this film waned.  Not to mention the fact that word of mouth on it was that it was really bloody and violent...two things that never sit well with me and two reasons why I NEVER watch horror films.

However, after being in the press room at the Oscars and seeing Leo finally take home the gold I though to myself...Gurl!  check out your boy and see what is really up with this bear action.

Needless to say, I finally watched it and it was everything everyone said it was.  It was violent, bloody and there was massive action concerning a bear brawl.  But, Leonardo DiCaprio did his thing and I'm pretty sure the fact that he was giving us the movie star Grizzly Adams look while speaking a Native Indian dialect didn't hurt his chances this time around.

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The Revenant, set somewhere in the 1820's, revolves around Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) after the loss of their wife/mother set out on an expedition with fellow fur trappers, when Hugh is injured.  Left for dead, Hugh fights for his life and for revenge of a loved one against a friend turned enemy.

In a year that has incited so much discussion about diversity, it was refreshing to see a film that utilized so many Native Americans in the cast and the crew.  Native American are an ethnic group that is very under utilized on-screen, so I was elated to see them throughout the film and not in a stereotypical way.  Yeah!!!!

Tom Hardy had a stellar year (LEGEND, MAD MAX:  FURY ROAD, THE REVENANT) landing in two Oscar nominated films.  As John Fitzgerald, I wanted to slap the taste out of mouth, which makes his unbelievable in The Revenant.  All that means, is that hardy did an exemplary job and this film is worth seeing on his performance alone.

Other notable performances are from Forrest Goodluck as Hawk and Will Poulter as Bridger.

And now for praises to my secret crush...which now is NO longer is secret for Alejandro G. Inarritu.   This man gives genius a whole new face and energy.   As writer, director and producer, he and Leo took home the Oscar and deservedly so.  Inarritu and his cinematic collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki make any location  look breathtakingly  stunning and creates a completely independent character with the lens.

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If you haven't seen The Revenant, you can now catch it on DVD and live streaming online via  iTunes, VUDU, Amazon and more.

https://youtu.be/LoebZZ8K5N0

2016 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Kick Off

  One of my favorite film festivals to attend throughout the year is the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and I'm usually the only person of color at any number of screenings...lol

I love this festival, because these films bust the stereotype of Asians wide open.  It's an opportunity to see this diverse ethnic group as just that - a diversified, talented faction of society that displays an emotionally charged sense of family, togetherness and quality work.

Visual Communications production and @angryasianman aka Phil Yu invited to their #LAPFF kick off party a few weeks back and here is a little preview of how that went...

The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival sponsored by Lexus runs in Los Angeles from April 21 - April 28.  for more info, film screenings and locations, please log onto www.vconline.org/festival.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9xjlfMEg_0

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner.com  

One day while living in New York City, I ran into Frank Gorshin.  Many of you reading this will not know him, but will recognize his character "The Joker" from the old Batman television series.  I kinda lost my mind a little.  I mean, it felt like "the joker" had jumped out of my television set and onto a street in Manhattan just to meet me!!!

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Needless to say, when I heard that there would be a movie where Batman was going up against Superman...I had to check it out!!!

Let's start with the good news.  The technical aspects and photography of this film are absolutely stunning.  Loved the fact that director Zack Snyder kept true to both franchises reminding us of both superhero origins, as well as, bringing back Clarke Kent's film parents Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent) and Diane Lane (Martha Kent).  The franchise has become somewhat diverse with the additions of Laurence Fishburne  (Perry White) as the Daily Planet Chief and Harry Lennix (Swanwick) as the Chief of Police and Amy Adams (Lois Lane) stays true to being the strong-willed heroine with a heart.

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I'm all down for a good superhero fight, but felt like the fight scenes in this film were all about 20 minutes too long.  It felt like they would never end and you could really feel the fact that they were choreographed.

Ben Affleck is my dude!!!  I am one of the few people who saw "Hollywoodland" where he portrayed real George Reeves (Superman from the television series)!!!  So, of course, I was curious to see how he would handle Batman.  Well, I kinda wasn't feeling it!  Love Ben, but his best  moments as Batman I feel got left on the cutting room floor.  on the same note Henry Cavill as Superman was just OK.  I felt like his strength mentally as a superhero was washed over a little in the installment.  Love both Ben and Henry, but again felt like this film didn't do either one of them justice.

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  ****SPOILER ALERT****

Even though director Zack Snyder is a master of the DC comic franchise having also directed Justice League, Aquaman and two untitled DC comic films slated to be released in 2018 and 2019,  I was mortified at the revelation of killing off Superman?  I wasn't having it!!!  How can you kill my boy??!!

My faith in the film was only redeemed in the characterization of Lex Luther portrayed with  much venom by the brilliant Jesse Eisenberg.  It was  a little reminiscent of Gene Hackman's Lex Luther from the old Superman flicks in the way that the humor was very understated yet effective for the character.

So, would I recommended this one?  At the end of the day it doesn't matter what I think.  Batman v Superman:  Dawn of Justice has grossed nearly $300 million dollars thus far and will continue to touch a nerve with all fans of both franchises.

[embed]https://youtu.be/0WWzgGyAH6Y[/embed]

HIGH STRUNG

Highstrung Before American Idol, The Voice, So You Think You Can Dance, Glee and even those now defunct reality show looking for their next Broadway lead ...there was FAME.

Who can forget that famous scene on W. 46th Street where the kids danced on top of taxi's during their lunch break, or how Leroy went to the audition with his friend and he got into the School of Performing Arts, or those famous words of Lydia Grant aka Debbie Allen..."You want FAME, well FAME costs...and right here is where you start paying in sweat..."

Well, baby now Young & The Restless star Michael Damian brings us an updated, hit-charged version called "High Strung".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3Xi1yEDN7U

Ruby Adams (Keenan Kampa) has come to the city to begin her scholarship at the famed MCA, considered to be one of the toughest performing arts schools in the country.  While waiting for the subway, she stumbles upon a brooding violinist Johnnie Blackwell (Nicholas Galitzine) and a fight to the finish between two dance crews on the platform.

These two discover, not only are they attracted to each other, but both have obstacles to overcome, in addition to them both not fitting in.  Ruby desperately needs to hold onto her scholarship and Johnnie is facing deportation when they join forces with the SwitchSteps to win a contest that would solve both their issues.

Baby, the results are amazing and make for a very entertaining, high energy, emotional and fantabulous ride thanks to Director/Writer Michael Damian.

I would be remiss in not giving a massive hand of applause to Choreographer - Dave Scott. His choreography and the dancers he chose to execute his imaginatively, warped sense of melting street with classical is mind-blowing!  It made my knees and back hurt just to watch...lol!!  Back in the day, I started out as a dancer and am amazed every day at how complex and technical it has all become.  I wouldn't stand a ghost of a chance against these dolls at an open call nowadays.  Surely, I would be annihilated within the first few seconds of a combination.

There were many battles that I adored, but the two that stick out in my mind the most are the battle between Johnnie and Kyle at a high society fundraiser and the battle of the best crew on the subway platform.  Both are absolutely genius.

Ruby Adams is very natural and an amazingly flexible dancer.  Her sidekick, Sunoya  Mizuno as Ruby's roomie Jazzy is hilarious and will remind every one of that one girl in college who just "wanted to have fun".  However, Nicholas Galitzine has "it" and is very reminiscent of a young 21 Jump Street Johnny Depp.  He commands the screen every time the camera catches his face.  Knowing that Jane Seymour started out as a dancer and did her thing a few seasons back on Dancing With The Stars, it was such a pleasant surprise to see her be the "Lydia Grant" of this film.

I will leave you with a few quotes and some red carpet footage from the premiere at the Hollywood Chinese theatre that should keep your minds lubricated until you hit a theatre on April 8th to check out High Strung

"See the music...heart the dance..."  -  George Balanchine

"Dancers DANCE no matter what"!

"Music, like dance , is a link to the soul"

"it's the imperfections that keep us alive"

https://youtu.be/J7ZTn0Q8H1E

The Perfect Match

Review for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner.com I'm always down for a good Rom-Com and especially wanted to support my former co-worker/friend Bille Woodruff and my girl from OITNB (Orange Is The New Black) Dasha Polanco. So, some girlfriends and I hopped on over to the nearest AMC to check out The Perfect Match.

Charlie (Terrence Jenkins), a self-professed player, finally meets his match when he locks eyes with the gorgeous and mysterious Eva (Cassie Ventura). Having more in common than they anticipated, they agree to have "friends with benefits" type of relationship. As luck would have it, Charlie's nose is wide open and finds himself wanting more out from Eva.

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Writers Brandon Broussard, Gary Hardwick and Dana Verde clearly are fans of Boomerang, The Best Man and Love Jones , as there are elements from all three flicks present within the Perfect Match.

Being a music video veteran of such classics as TLC's "Waterfalls" and the dance film "Honey" with Jessica Alba, it goes without saying that Bille Woodruff knows to beautifully capture a moment. The love scenes in this are sexually steamy and visually stunning.

There are major familiar faces like Paula Patton as Charlie's therapist sister, Kali Hawk, Lauren London, Brandy Norwood, Donald Faison, Joe Pantoliano, rapper French Montana and Draya Michele. However, the standout was J Lo's boo Beau Casper Smart. He was hilarious and his hoverboard skills are to be rivaled!

However, The Perfect Match doesn't have a perfect ending to the story, which was quite refreshing to watch unfold.

Put up those Magic Mike flick and have a little fun with girls...and guys take a break from the girls with your crew and have a little chuckle with a night on the town watching The Perfect Match -- in a theater near you NOW.