Tales of the Grim Sleeper

image Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and The Curvy Film Critic

If you live in the Los Angeles area and especially on the South Side, you know of The Grim Sleeper.  If not, The Grim Sleeper 'aka' Lonnie Franklin was arrested in 2010 and charged with the brutal murder of nearly 200 women.  While remaining behind bars, his trial date had been postponed three times.  The Tales of the Grim Sleeper was one of big documentary hits at the 2015 Pan African Film Festival.

However, a few days ago Lonnie Franklin was sentenced to death after a trial that lasted for months.  A death sentence for a man who clearly had no regard for human life.

Initially, based on DNA evidence, the police believed Franklin's son Christopher was guilty.  Only  after finding DNA on a cup obtained in the trash at a pizza joint, was it determined the DNA in fact matched Lonnie Franklin - not his son.

When asked how Christopher feel about his Dad being a murderer, he replied "I lost my best friend...I'm still his son".  On whether or not he thought his Dad would be convicted, "...He has a lot of fans in law enforcement and freaks in the street that think what he did was cool".

Told from the eyes of Pamela Brooks (former drug addict and acquaintance of Franklin's) we learn that the Lonnie Franklin, the man described by neighbors and friends as a "really nice guy" had a mean streak...especially with women.

Franklin, a former sanitation worker and ex-con was known to troll close to his neighborhood (Western and 81st) for hookers who ranged in age from 14-36.

Apparently, according to several women who know him, Lonnie liked to take naked pictures of women and have sex with them - all with the aide of his "friends" in the neighborhood.  Those same friends tell investigators that they believed Lonnie hated women because of a tumultuous relationship with his first wife (a crackhead).

Directed by Nick Broomfield (a filmmaker from the UK) many things are brought to life through the eyes of various individuals who seemingly knew two very different sides of Lonnie Franklin.

At the Q& A following the film, Margaret Prescod from the Black Coalition Fighting Black Serial Killers informed the audience of a 911 call which had been suppressed as evidence for nearly 20 years and that only 18 of the 90 women murdered were on the books at the time the crimes originally occurred.  Police allegedly believe that many of the victims wound up in a landfill.

Ms. Prescod brought up a good point noting that when Natalie Holloway went missing, it was international news, but women of color AND from South LA are especially ignored and deemed unimportant.  Things that make you go hmmm....

Check out this trailer...


Abortion: Stories Women Tell

File_001 (5) Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and The CurvyFilm Critic.com

As the child of a military family, we traveled for most of my life.  However, in between moves, we always went back "home".  Home for me is St, Louis, Missouri.  Both of my parents were born and raised there.  My relatives on my maternal and paternal side still live there.  I went to the prom, fell in love for the first time, had my first date, learned to drive, got my first job, became a beauty queen and attended my first college...all in the state of Missouri.

My memories are vast and fond of my life there.  However, as magical and warm the memories are that I have growing up in Missouri, I also remember Missouri for being one of the most racist states in the union.  Some residents of the state can be so full of judgement that some of my friends growing up there who were gay knew that "outing" themselves was never an option.  To do so would result in isolation from friends and family and being labeled and attacked,  Being a young, gifted and black was not celebrated.  To the point, that in 2016,  we are still witnessing young men like Michael Brown being harassed, shot and murdered.

Patient sitting on hospital bed waiting

Needless to say, when I learned of the documentary Abortion:  Stories Women Tell screening at the Tribeca Film festival around Missouri becoming one of the many states to make abortion illegal, I was not surprised.  I was, however, extremely annoyed.

In 1973 the US Supreme court decision Roe Vs. Wade gave every woman the right to have an abortion. Since 2011, over half the states in the nation have significantly restricted access to abortions. In 2016, abortion remains one of the most divisive issues in America, especially in Missouri, where each year sees more restrictions.

Award winning director and Missouri native Tracy Droz Tragos sheds new light on this controversial  issue, with a focus not on the debate, but rather on the women themselves. Women who are struggling with unplanned pregnancies, the providers who show up at clinics to give medical care, as well as the activists on the sidewalks hoping to save one more child.

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Abortion: Stories Women Tell portrays an intimate portrait into the lives of these women through their personal stories, which come to life brilliantly, through the gentle and respectful approach by director Tragos.   Some are heartbreaking and tender, some are bleak and frightening, while others simply inform us of the strength and capacity of young women to overcome and persevere through often-tragic circumstances.  Take a listen to a recent interview I did with Tracy about her doc...

[audio mp3="https://carlarenatascorner.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/tracydrozetragos_abortionstories.mp3"][/audio]

Abortion:  Stories Women Tell also shows us how organizations like Planned Parenthood are being targeted for abortion procedures and allegedly accused  of selling fecal organs for medical testing.  My newly divorced mother (who is also a Registered Nurse) took me to Planned Parenthood as a teen to be educated on birth control and the services provided to young girls like me.  That Planned Parenthood location on Lindell Avenue in St. Louis has been shut down and the nearest location  is two hours away in Columbia, Missouri.

With young girls being sexually active as early as 10 years old, where will those mothers who don't take their daughters to be educated?  Especially now, that sex education has been slowly forced out of the public school system.

I employ each and every one of you reading this to think of all these concerns and facts as your state contemplates making a decision that affects thousands if not millions of American women.

Watch for this powerful doc to show up on HBO, but if you can't wait until then it had its theatrical release August 12th..  You will angered, educated,  but most of all moved to make a difference.



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