LITTLE MEN

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

Death is always uncomfortable.  Those left are always second guessing what their loved one would've thought or how they would want their wishes to be carried out.  Often times, when there is a child who has been coddled and protected by the deceased parent,  it forces them to grow up rapidly in ways they don't necessarily want or expect.

Direct from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, writer/director Ira Sachs examines the friendship of two teenaged boys and how the social/economic gaps between their families threatens to overwhelm  and undermine that relationship.

In the wake of Jake's Grandfather passing, he and his family move from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Sensitive and shy Jake (Thos Taplitz) quickly becomes besties with Tony (Michael Barbieri), who is a little more gregarious by nature and is fiercely protective of his new best friend.

While the boys are bonding, the adults are fighting! over real estate.  Apparently, Jake's grandfather didn't handle all of his business, leaving the lease for a dress shop he owned up for grabs.  When Leonor (Paulina Garcia) decides that it is her right to stay at the shop without raising the rent, an immature, unflattering behavior casts a cloud over both the tragic and comedic contrasts to the world that Tony and Jake share.

Michael Barbieri (Tony) and Theo Taplitz (Jake) carry this film, much in the way Tatum O'Neal carried Paper Moon and Abigail Breslin carried Little Miss Sunshine.  Their scenes together are entertaining to say the least, but it's moment they are alone with other actors where they really have an opportunity to shine.

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The highlight of the whole scene is where Tony is in a Meisner  acting class doing a repetition exercise with his instructor that literally garnered applause from the audience at the screening I attended.

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Paulina Garcia as Leonor is deliciously despicable.  Your heart breaks for her.  You realize not only did she lose someone she loved, but now is losing the security of a home, job and business due to no fault of her own.  As a Chilean mother, she is struggling to give her son the best life possible and feels like she is failing.

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Greg Kinnear as Brian is subtle, yet extremely effective as the small time actor juggling the pressure of marriage and kids in the midst of coping with family loss.

Having been a military brat, I am all too familiar with making great friends, moving away and losing touch as the years go by.  You try desperately to hold on to the good times, but life goes on. The only solace you have is that somehow those friends changed the kaleidoscope of you childhood and made you a little richer for having met them.

Ironically, Ira Sachs shared at a recent Q&A that Little Men picks up where Love So Strange leaves off.  Love So Strange ends with a kid on a skateboard and Little Men begins with a kid on a skateboard.  Sachs thought it would be interesting to see what happens to that kid.  Guess What Ira?  Not only was it interesting, but I loved it!!!

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TALLULAH

File_000 (1) Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner.com

Have you ever done what you knew in your heart was wrong for all the right reasons?  So has Tallulah.  A homeless girl who has not been dealt a full deck within the card game of life, Tallulah finds herself in a situation where she makes a decision that ultimately affects not only her...but many others.

Tallulah and her boyfriend Nico (Evan Jonigkeit) are wandering through life trying to figure out what their next move will be.  Will they go to abroad or stay in New York?  One never knows, but Nico decides that he is done with Tallulah and leaves.  While trolling through floors at a hotel/apartment building, she stumbles upon a woman who is clearly troubled and with a toddler. This chance meeting will turn out to change Tallulah in ways she didn't even see coming.

Having debuted at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, this Chris Columbus produced dramedy is one of the best films I have seen yet this year.  Kudos to Bernie Telsey and his casting associates for gathering such a stellar cast.

Although Ellen Page (Tallulah) and Allison Janney  (Margo) are turning in some outstanding performances, this film belongs the insatiably, sadistic Tammy Blanchard (Carolyn).  Since bursting on the scene as a 2011 Tony Nominee for the second revival of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, Blanchard, those who have watched her star ascend knew it would be only a matter of time before all of her true talent would be showcased.  Her performance in Tallulah is only to be rivaled by that of Oscar winner Cate Blanchett in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine.

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Tallulah

Ellen Page is a task master at portraying young woman with no real moral compass.  She's brilliant at it actually!  Her presence brings the much-needed comic element to Tallulah and she never disappoints.  Ellen Page is the only actress I can think of that makes you want to slap her and hug her all at the same time.  This is certainly the gift of skills she bring s to the role of Tallulah.

Allison Janney is better and better with each film she appears in.  As an awkward, socially inept woman on the verge of divorcing her gay husband. Janney conveys all the colors and layers necessary to pull off the character of Margo.  Her attempt to seduce the doorman is hysterical and incredibly sad all at once, as well as, her anger burst toward her future ex-husband are outstanding moments.

It was nice to see David Zayas and Uzo Aduba, as well as, John Benjamin Hickey and Zachary Quinto on-screen in one film.  Each of them spectacular in their respective roles.

Director/Writer Sian Heder has honed his skills in the world of dramedy on such hits as Orange Is The New Black and Men of a Certain Age, but it's safe to say that Tallulah will be the breakout film garnering major attention for him and Blanchard this awards season.

Tallulah debuted on Netflix July 29th and is available for streaming now.

https://youtu.be/8WSz2s-Gemc

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WSz2s-Gemc

 

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...

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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

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

 

PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW with Carla Renata

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

Justin Bieber is a huge recording superstar thanks in part to LA Reid and Usher.  However, it was his YouTube video that initially caught their attention and signed him to a record deal making him one of the most popular tweens of the 21st Century.

As a matter of fact, millions of videos wind up on YouTube and go viral overnight with no formula, rhyme or reason other than the fact that for some reason it has resonated with its online audience.

Add Princess Shaw  aka Samantha Montgomery to that list.  As a nurse and aspiring artist, Shaw records post after post of originals not having a clue that 7,000 miles on the other side of the world another artist - Kutiman is listening.  Kutiman adds a whole orchestra behind Shaw's original, "Give It Up"making her a viral sensation overnight.

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Watching Shaw go from singing to a near empty room to sold out venues around the world is astounding.  We also learn that NO ONE is an overnight success.  Most of us struggle for years before catching a break, however, it has become a little easier with the invention of the internet and social media.

Shaw endures having the tires ripped from her ride, having no electricity, walking to work and even taking a trip to infiltrate Atlanta's music scene for her artistry.  Clearly it has paid off.  Kutiman and Shaw are collaborating on her debut release as I type.

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This fiery diva took some time out of her busy day to chat with a sista' about her newfond celebrity and internet success.  Take a look...

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WEINER

  WeinerPoster

Review for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner

Yes, America we are in the middle of electing a brand new President and with every election there is always some type of drama. Either with the candidates themselves or someone relative to their world.  America, thanks to reality television has become addicted to controversy, ie Donald Trump.

But in 2013, our focus and fascination was with former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Weiner was fearless and his passion as a politician were unmatched.   However, it was that same passion mixed with arrogance that would ultimately become his Achilles heel during his quest for Mayor of NYC that would unravel his political career, personal life and reputation.  His quest for Mayor began as a potential slam dunk, until his appetite for chasing women outside his marriage surfaced - AGAIN!

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Let's go back to the beginning just a tad.   Weiner was considered to be one of the most outspoken Congressmen on Capitol Hill.  He would call out anybody...anytime on ANY issue he felt passionate about.  Although his peers loathed his technique, they almost unequivocably respected his passion for the people who elected him.  He was liberal, savvy, quick and married to a beautiful, smart high-profile aide to now Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton - Hume Abedin.

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All of this would turn upside down when Weiner took some now infamous selfies of his...well.."weiner" in some boxer shorts.  Just like that his political career on Capitol Hill came crashing to a halt.

Fast forward to 2013, one of Weiner's former aides,  Josh Kriegman , along with Elyse Sternberg decided to follow Weiner's return to politics in a documentary.  What none of them could know is that history would repeat itself and make everyone feel as though it were the "Groundhog Day" of political races.  Several young woman came forward claiming to have been intimate with the candidate, but it was only Sydney Leathers who went on a full fledge media tour to announce her involvement.  Leathers single-handedly murdered any chances of Weiner continuing in politics.

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This doc opened to massive enthusiasm and curiosity at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and most recently a limited release in the United States.

Don't be fooled.  This doc is not your usual fare of watching a politician go down in flames and the audience left feeling sorry for him like in the Netflix doc "Mitt".  There are more humorous moments simply due to the fact that Anthony Weiner is a very colorful character who has landed on his feet in spite of himself and his choices.  You wind up respecting him and his devoted Hume Abedin, who  stood by her man with dignity and respect during times when it was nearly impossible to maintain both.

You also witness how some folks (Sydney Leathers) will do just about anything for the "15 minutes" of fame at any cost.  The chase through McDonald's is epic...as is their nickname for Leathers "pineapple".

I'm sure now you are mega curious. If so, take a trip to the nearest theatre and check it out.  You will be educated, entertained and most of enlightened on the persona and life of Anthony Weiner.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJ4FIGnJknk

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJ4FIGnJknk

 

 

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

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.

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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.

2016 Pan African Film Festival: THE CHURCH HOUSE - Sexuality in the Black Church

  Review by Carla Renata for Carla Renata's Corner, UBNRadio.com and On Air With Tony Sweet

So, everybody talks about it.  It's whispered during the sermon amongst the church members in the pews.  Is the Minister of Music a little on the sweet side?  Why are all these women half naked sitting in the front pew lustfully staring at the pastor?  Why are all the female pastors?

Not until now, has the issues been discussed on such a grand scale as though the latest documentary form "Dark Girls" director - D. Channsin Berry in "The Church House -Sexuality in the Black Church"

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At first glance, the audience at PAFF was all ready to have their jaws tight at the prospect of "homosexuality" being attacked or certain clergy being called out on their questionable behavior.  Instead, what we got was a very well-rounded and educational view of how Black people as a culture handle sexuality in the church.

“A young girl would get pregnant in church who sings in choir. Suddenly she’s pregnant. Now she can’t sing in choir,” says Pastor John Faison from West Grove Baptist in Nashville, more than halfway through the film. "Back in the day,” that same girl would come in front of the church and apologize to the whole congregation. “Now the deacon who got her pregnant was never brought up, nobody said anything,” Faison adds, in frustrated disbelief. “It’s the same thing today. It’s the exact same thing.”

I personally remember in my own family, girls being sent away for a "summer vacation" to have the baby.  When in reality, the baby would be born out-of-state and placed with another family member or put up for adoption away from the watchful eyes of the hometown congregation.

The same thing goes for homosexuality in the church.  Now, y'all know he was flaming like the last of the forest fires, but as long as he is being of "service" to the church it's not an issue.

Christ Community Temple - Church of God in Christ is where I spent most of my childhood evenings and Sundays.    All the pastors since the beginning of time have been know to always be male.  The same was true at my church.  The women were on the usher board, supported the men and prepared the basement dinners available after every service.  In other words, there did not speak unless spoken to.  Are women not interested in leading a flock or have they been suppressed by their male counterparts? I think it's safe to say the later may very well be true.  Just look at how women are treated when running for President...just saying.

We won't even get into pastors and their ongoing relationship with lustful opportunities in skirts.  D. Channsin Berry does it though and very effectively!!

Check out this trailer for THE CHURCH HOUSE and for up to date release info go to The Church House on Facebook

https://youtu.be/tzGshEmmf38

 

 

 

THE PROPHET

  Review of  KAHLIL GIBRAN'S "THE PROPHET" for Carla Renata's Corner, UBNRadio.com and On Air With Tony Sweet

I remember watching reruns of "The Wonderful World of Disney" wishing I could jump into the television set and play with all the characters on my screen.  From Pinnochio to Peter Pan, they never let my imagination down.

Imagine, growing up and becoming a real-life Disney character onstage in one of the longest running shows to hit Broadway?  That's right, I had the time my life recreating the role my good friend Tracy Nicole Chapman created on Broadway and my idol Whoopi Goldberg created for the screen as "Shenzi" in the Original Los Angeles production of Disney's "The Lion King".

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The show ran at the Pantages theatre in Hollywood for three years and afforded me the opportunity to work with the incomparable Julie Taymor, as well as, numerous cast members flown in from South Africa who are still dear friends of mine to this day.

Fast forward to 2015, CAA invites me to a screening of "The Prophet" based on Lebanese artist, philosopher and writer Kahlil Gibran's book of 26 prose poetry essays written in English. It was originally published in 1923 by Alfred A. Knopf and to date is Gibran's best known work.

prophet_artwork.jpegThe imagery and use of prose, music and animation in a narrative setting blew me away.  The gamut of emotions I experienced ranged from euphoria to the ugly cry in a corner...in the dark.  The narrative follows a young girl, Almitra (Quevenzhane' Wallis), who after the death of her father, ceases to speak.  Which is actually very reminiscent of Maya Angelou's "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings", wherein after an extremely harrowing ordeal, Maya stops talking for years.

Almitra and her mother Kamila (Salma Hayek) befriend and protect Kamila's employer Mustafa (Liam Neeson) as they evade the authorities who are fearful that's Mustafa's words and teachings will cause the people to emulate him, his strength in character and the need to fight for what is fair, just and right for themselves and others.

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The illustration and detail to the artwork is spectacular and invokes that same magical feeling I felt when I saw "Fantasia" for the first time.  That Disney classic also took a chance melting music and animation together for the first time on screen.

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Afterwards, at a short reception, I felt compelled to let its producer and star (Salma Hayek) know how I felt, as well as the director (Roger Allers) who was in attendance.  Salma Hayek is lovely, beautiful and a fantabulous business woman.  When I expressed how I wanted to get the word out for this film, she put her arm around me, introduced me to her media team and instructed them to "take me seriously".

However, it was the the director Roger Allers, whose name and face rang familiar to me.  Why?  He was also the director of "The Lion King"!!!!!  Isn't that wild??!!!  so, as luck would have it, Roger did me a solid and let me interview him about the film.  Take a listen and click on the link below, as well as watch the trailer for "The Prophet".  Before "The Secret" and "The Artists Way" there was Kahlil Gibran's - "The Prophet".

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

Review: Playin' For Love

   

 

Review of "Playin' For Love" by Carla Renata for Carla Renata's Corner and On Air With Tony Sweet

This may come as a surprise to many of you, but Robert Townsend and I go waaaaay back.  You see, before Hollywood Shuffle...before A Soldier's Story...before The Five Heartbeats...Robert Townsend was a stand-up comedian doing a British accent in a really nice chapeau.  I remember him well, because there were not that many men of color doing comedy and there really weren't that many that were stomach cramp hilarious.  Robert Townsend was and IS one of the best.

His latest flick, "Playin' For Love" follows high school basketball Coach Banks,(played by Townsend) who is very self-sufficient at calling all the shots for his team and his love life.  His life gets flipped on its side when he meets Talisa McCoy(Salli Richardson-Whitfield).  She's a beautiful, strong, single mom with her own opinions on how a winning team should be run.  Especially a team in which her star player son is now a part of.

Produced, directed and co-written by its star, Townsend enlists a little help from some friends like Esai Morales, Jenifer Lewis, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Melysa Ford and the incomparable Salli Richardson-Whitfield to make this film an enjoyable experience.

Unlike a lot of films produced today, "Playin' for Love" showcases a diverse cast and a love story between two people of color that are attractive, smart and a man who is not afraid to love a strong woman who has children that are not biologically his.  It was refreshing to watch and I, for one, would really like to see people of color portrayed in this light rather than the alternative.  As this is the image of life that is reflective of myself, my friends and colleagues who date, fall-in-love, are strong willed, strong minded, independent women.

In speaking with Robert (as you know we're family now...lol), he revealed that in addition to the release of "Playin' for Love" TODAY via Digital Video and DVD for an SRP of $27.97, there is going to be a huge surprise for all of "The Five Heartbeats" fans. To purchased logo onto www.us.rljentertainment.com.

Enjoy the trailer and take a listen to our interview below to hear what he revealed about the 25th Anniversary of "The Five Heartbeats", working with Salli Richardson, #OscarsSoWhite and of course how the idea to write "Playin For Love" dropped into his lap.  For more info about "Playin' For Love", "The Five Heartbeats" and all things Robert Townsend...log onto Robert Townsend Website or on Twitter @Robert_Townsend.

 

 

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