QUEEN OF KATWE

Review by Carla Renata for UBNRADIO.com, TheCurvyFilmCritic.com and MsInTheBiz.com I don't know about you, but when I hear the word chess, automatically the name Bobby Fischer pops into my head.  It's generally not a game I identify with African-American players.

Although, there have been several players of color.  In 2014, Cuba Gooding, Jr starred in Life of a Kingabout Eugene Brown.  Brown started a chess club for inner city students in Washington D.C. after he had been jailed for 18 years.

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Maurice Ashley is a Jamaican American chess grandmaster, author, commentator, app designer, puzzle inventor, and motivational speaker. In 1992, he shared the United States Game/10 chess championship with Maxim Dlugy.  Fédération Internationale des Échecs or World Chess Federation (FIDE) awarded him the grandmaster title in 1999,making him the world's first Jamaican chess International Grandmaster.   Ashley is well-known as a commentator for high-profile chess events, spent many years teaching chess and On April 13, 2016, was inducted officially into the US Hall of Fame along with Chess Grandmaster Gata Kamsky.

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Enter Phiona Mutesi, a girl from the streets of Kampala, Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess by soccer coach and former missionary Robert Katende.  As a result, she is encouraged to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion. Queen of Katwe is Phiona's story of discovery, love, sacrifice and developing the heart of a lion king while accomplishing a feat even she thought was impossible.

In 2012, at the age of 16, at her second Olympiad, she became a Woman Candidate Master, the first step towards Grand Master. Earlier this year Phiona graduated from St. Mbuga Vocational Secondary School and is now applying to college and hopes to become a doctor or lawyer.

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Played majestically perfect by Madina Nalwanga, “Phiona’s story is like my story,” Nalwanga says. “Her background is like my background, but for her it was chess that changed everything and for me it was dancing and singing.”

It was refreshing to see that Disney made a huge effort to keep this story's authenticity by casting actors from Uganda and South Africa. Both David Oyelowo as Robert Katende and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o seemed destined to be part of the project.

The role of Harriet was written for Nyong’o, whom director Mira Nair has known for years. “I thought of Harriet as a young Mother Courage, and that is the strength and beauty that is in Lupita,” says Nair.   A child of East Africa, an alumnus of Maisha Film Lab and an intern at Nair’s production company Mirabai Films in New York, Nyong’o shot to fame with her Oscar®-winning performance in “12 Years a Slave,” which she followed with roles in “Star Wars: A Force Awakens” and “The Jungle Book.”

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“I have a daughter and I want her to watch this film and feel like she can do anything because she is worthy of it, because she applies herself, as we see Phiona do,” says David Oyelowo.   My hope is that some girl in Iowa who wants to be a pilot will watch this film and be inspired to do what she wants to do.”

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Queen of Katwe is an inspiring, uplifting film that reminds its audience that anything is possible with a little hard work, support, love, self-confidence and belief in one's self.

Produced by Disney,

Queen of Katwe

opens in limited release on September 23rd and nationwide on September 30th.

 

Pete's Dragon

File_000 (18) Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com, The Curvy Film Critic and MsInTheBiz.com

As an avid Disney fan, I was aghast that I didn't remember the 70's version of this Disney Classic starring Grammy Winner, Helen Reddy. Not to mention the fact that I pretty much remember just about every Oscar nominee across categories, but totally missed that the song was nominated.

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I'm kinda glad though, because it allowed me to watch the reboot with a fresh heart, mind and eyes.  When I tell you, I got so caught up that the "ugly cry" was unavoidable...I do not exaggerate.  My own mother was like, "Are you ok"?  LOL!!!

Disney has created a new classic with Pete's Dragon for all ages.  If you have the heart, curiosity and wonderment of a child residing anywhere in your bones, this film will awake it .

Remember, Pete's Dragon came along way before E.T.,, Gremlins and all those other loveable creatures we have fallen in love with over the years. Yet, I fell for Elliott just as hard.  He kinda reminded me of my faithful Maltese Mr. Spanky..  Only difference is Elliott is green, flies and breathes fire.  I'm pretty sure Spanky and Elliott would be besties.

So, I ask you...if your buddy, your partner in crime, your loyal furry friend was in trouble wouldn't you move heaven and earth to save him?  Pete and his new-found friends go to extraordinary lengths to make sure that Elliott is safe and unharmed.  Human beings predictably always attempt to destroy or discredit those entities which we don't understand or fear. and fear is a very powerful emotion that can persuade one to act up and show out.

Even though the 1977 version was basically a film musical, this reboots focuses strictly on the story of a young child who has found a friend in a forest where he has been living an adventure for six years, until a forest ranger and her fiance' invite him to become a family member

Oakes Fegley (Pete) as the orphaned Pete is just yummy!  His instincts are spot on and you believe him every moment he is on-screen.  His acting ability is to be rivaled by any adult and is eerily  reminiscent of a young River Phoenix.  Paired up with the perfect Oona Laurence as Natalie, these two are unstoppable.

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Bryce Dallas Howard for me can just do no wrong and having her own children gave her the right mindset to pull off inhabiting Grace.  The vulnerability displayed will break your heart.. She has somehow been handed down that gene that made America fall in love with her Dad, Ron Howard as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show.

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Robert Redford is one of my all time favorite actors and hadn't been on-screen for a while until this year with A Walk In The Woods and now as Meacham.  To witness Redford become a child before your eyes as he speaks of the fondness in which he meets the "dragon" is really something special.  It takes an exceptional actor to recall that emotion and make the audience take that journey with you.  Well done, Sir!

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You know there is always that one character that throws a wrench into the Hallmark Family moment and Karl Urban is the perfect guy to do it.  As Gavin, he is despicably delicious, comical and handsome all at the same time.  I know...right??!!  He's easily the chameleon of the crew.

Director, David Lowery performs triple duty, as he is also credited as the editor and screenwriter.  As his first foray into the world of Disney he is crushing it.  I think he needs to direct ALL DISNEY movies from now to eternity!

I loved this film!  Mostly because it reminded of a time when life was not complicated by the hard knocks of adulthood.  As a little girl, my biggest issue was what I wearing to school and what boy I had a crush on. Those memories and feelings are irreplaceable, but I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.

Pete's Dragon  will take you back to time where life was simple, joyous and uncomplicated.  Take the fam, the hubby and have a beautiful family night you all will not soon forget.  Pete's Dragon opened nationwide August 12th.

Take the time to download the coloring sheets and activities, Disney has graciously provided for the kids to enjoy.  Trust me...I played them and had a ball!!!

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Pete's Dragon Activity Booklet

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