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Harriet . . . Hurry it up and See It! | MOVIE REVIEW

Harriet Tubman is a name like Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglas; all were courageous members of the abolitionist movement. Ms. Tubman, short in stature, barely five feet tall, is a giant in history. And, the film, Harriet, tells the story of Ms. Tubman, the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad's "conductors” and her amazing ability to move in and out of the south. According to the PBS’ Africans in America series, Ms. Tubman made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 enslaved Africans to freedom and without capture.

Harriet brings to life a character whose story, without any embellishment, is amazing. Cynthia Erivo in the title role nails it. She’s authentic, credible and exceptional. There was some pushback over Director Kasi Lemmons’ selection of Erivo, a British actress, in the role of an African American icon. But no one can legitimately challenge that choice after seeing the film.

Ms. Tubman created her own true-life Mission Impossible scenarios. Once she alone escaped to Philadelphia, her accomplishment was widely celebrated in anti-slavery circles. But ignoring warnings about repeating the incredible feat, she made multiple returns, and as her reputation grew, each trip became more dangerous.

At first, it was believed that the person who had become known and wanted as “Moses” was a white male abolitionist in blackface. Because only a white male would be capable of pulling off such cunning and dangerous exploits. But once it was learned that Moses was black and female the outrage and determination to capture her grew.

The film opens with one of the claims associated with Harriet. She prays for her owner’s death. His son, Gideon (Joe Alwyn) overhears Harriet’s imploring to the heavens and tells her God doesn’t listen to Ni. . . people like her. Gideon’s father dies that night.

Harriet and Gideon grew up together and as was often the case with enslaved people and their slaveholders, their relationship was complicated.

Maybe I am a coward. But if I had seen Harriet pray for the death of someone and that someone died shortly thereafter, unlike Gideon, I would have been very kind to her from then on.

One feature of Director Kasi Lemmons’ films that I like is her black characters have depth. They fall in love, make emotional connections with each other and pursue hopes and dreams.

But this film also has the typical Hollywood fairytale gloss. There were always perfectly timed messages from above directing Harriet throughout her journeys. Also, as was the case in another story from that period, 12 Years a Slave, blacks in the North are portrayed as full and equal citizens, dressing in the finest wear, living comfortably and interacting with whites as friends and colleagues. And that was simply not the case.

While blacks were free in the North, they were neither the social nor the professional equals of whites and rampant discrimination was the norm.

As to cast diversity, Harriet follows the racial demographics of that time.

Harriet, also starring Leslie Odom, Jr. and Janelle Monae, is a historical, educational and entertaining event, and you should See It! It’s rated, PG-13 for thematic content throughout, violent material and language including racial epithets. Harriet is 125 minutes in length.

 

New Memoir From Tiger Woods Gets Green Light

Tiger Woods will be putting it all on the line with his memoir, BACK

Right now, most golf aficionados would say that Tiger Woods is the second-best golfer of all time, right behind Jack Nicklaus, who has won a record 18 major championships, three more than Tiger Woods. But, Woods, being right behind Nicklaus in the championship hunt, has more fans and is more famous than Nicklaus and Woods would probably be number one on more lists of golf fans and casual observers lists for the Mount Rushmore of Golf.

Additionally, most golf fans would probably say there is not much they don’t know about Tiger. But, apparently, not, as publisher HarperCollins has acquired world rights to a new book, BACK, the first-ever memoir authored by Tiger Woods.

According to Tiger Woods’ camp, BACK is a candid and intimate narrative of an outsize American life: from growing up a celebrated golfing prodigy to shattering centuries-old racial barriers as a young pro; from rising to unprecedented fame and global icon status to battling devastating injuries and personal issues; from enduring years of physical anguish to mounting an astonishing comeback at 43 years old, culminating with the 2019 Masters, where his thrillingly impossible victory captured the imagination and hearts of people around the world.

Woods said, “I’ve been in the spotlight for a long time, and because of that, there have been books and articles and TV shows about me, most filled with errors, speculative and wrong. This book is my definitive story. It’s in my words and expresses my thoughts. It describes how I feel and what’s happened in my life. I’ve been working at it steadily, and I’m looking forward to continuing the process and creating a book that people will want to read.”

This memoir is the first and only account directly from Woods, with the full cooperation of his friends, family, and inner circle.

The deal was negotiated by Executive Editor Shannon Welch at HarperOne and Judith Curr, President and Publisher, HarperOne Group. The book will be published across all HarperCollins locations worldwide.

“We are thrilled and proud to work with Tiger on what I believe will be the publishing event of the decade,” said Curr. “Tiger will reclaim his own story and legacy and it’s a story for the world over.”

Welch, who will edit the book, said, “Meeting with Tiger, speaking with him at length about the process of writing a memoir, I was delighted to discover how much he has to say, and how ready, how eager, he is to say it. He’s at a place in his career and his life where he’s thinking deeply about his story, the highs and the lows, and how it all relates and connects. I think the result will be extraordinary.”

At press time, there was no confirmed release date for BACK.

 

Gemini Man: Regardless of your sign or gender, you will like this film | Movie Review

In any profession there comes that time when one knows he or she just doesn’t have it anymore. For the government’s top hitman, Henry Brogan (Will Smith), it’s when he aims his high-powered rifle at his target’s head but hits his neck.

As Henry sets to retire, he finds that someone he has killed per government instructions was actually an innocent civilian. Henry’s superiors decide it’s best to exterminate the retiree. Blame the Russians. And have him go out as a hero.

He connects with another agent (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who’s sent to tail him. She’s conflicted as to whom to believe, the top brass who wants Henry killed. Or, Henry who claims he’s being unfairly targeted.

Realizing that Henry is the best at what he does, his bosses know that they have to send the very best to take him out. When Henry comes face to face with his determined nemesis, he’s shocked to find out that it’s a cloned 20-year-old version of himself.

Speaking of 20 years, Gemini Man’s route to the big screen took two decades. Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, and Sean Connery were among the actors associated with the project at some point.

This end-product starring Will Smith is creative and entertaining and gets a “See It!” rating. Smith’s now 51. So, the Fresh Prince is middle-aged! He’s outstanding in this role, playing both the aging icon and the bureau’s youthful, hope for the future. Filtering makes the half-century-old, Smith look like a very young man.

The characters actually have scars and bruises from fights that don’t heal right away. As the days go by the marks gradually fade, adding realism rarely seen in films.

There are also some different types of action scenes like young Henry using his motorcycle to give his older version a beatdown. There’s even some humor. When the older Henry speaks of his situation with a Russian counterpart, the Rusky teases him: You American agents get your feelings hurt when your government decides to kill you. With us, we call that Tuesday!

Gemini Man gets a B+ for cast diversity. Obviously, there’s Will in the lead role. Benedict Wong plays Henry’s trusted friend. Two Asian companies play major roles in the production of Gemini Man as that part of the world increases its influence in the film industry.

It’s rated PG-13 for violence and action throughout, and brief strong language, and is 116 minutes in length. Gemini Man’s uniqueness and attention-grabbing scenes make it worth your while. It’s a, See it!

David Oyelowo is Now President

Showtime orders pilot for The President is Missing, just what we need for the upcoming U.S. Presidential Election

If you love actor David Oyelowo, then listen up!

The soon-to-be Showtime drama series (fingers crossed) The President Is Missing has cast the Emmy and Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo (Selma) in the lead role for the pilot. The project is currently in pre-production with the pilot expected to start shooting in 2020. If the pilot wows Showtime executives, then we probably have a show. Just in time for the upcoming U.S. presidential election, perhaps.

The President Is Missing is based on the novel by President Bill Clinton and James Patterson. Now, if you didn’t know that No. 42, is a novelist, with some help, of course, now you know.

The President Is Missing follows a powerless and politically aimless vice president (Oyelowo), who unexpectedly becomes president halfway into his administration’s first term and finds himself facing a secret, world-threatening crisis. This could be VP Mike Pence in a minute, we joke, slightly. Okay, back to the plot. Amid scandal and conspiracy, the new president must choose between toeing the party line to survive and taking a stand. Sounds familiar?

Gary Levine, co-president of entertainment for Showtime Networks, said: “David brings such enormous depth, sensitivity, and power to every role he plays. Having him as our lead ensures that our series will have the exhilarating suspense of a political thriller along with the juicy complexity of a character drama.”

In addition to Oyelowo, the cast of The President Is Missing includes Academy Award-winner Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), Anthony Peckham (Invictus), and Heather McQuarrie. In addition to their acting duties, Oyelowo will also executive produce the series, and Peckham is writing the adaptation. 

Ad Astra doesn’t add up. [Movie Review]

Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to outer space to figuratively kill two birds with one stone - or one trip. There are electronic waves coming from the heavens threatening earth and this phenomenon leads scientist and high-level government officials to believe that there’s a connection between the waves and a space voyage 30 years earlier led by McBride’s father (Tommy Lee Jones) from which his father never returned.

Despite Brad Pitt’s stellar performance, Ad Astra never really takes off and it gets a Rent It rating. Screenwriters James Gray and Ethan Gross layout the story effectively and clearly. There’s the threat to destroy the world which is likely connected with the McBride’s father space journey decades earlier. But other than that, this story moseys through a series of modestly interesting scenes serving as little more than filler until McBride reaches his final destination.

And those of you who expect Star Wars-type battles and scenes, you’ll be disappointed. Many of the scenes are serene and calm – which probably better represents what outer space is really like. There’s a mildly amusing portion: The film is set in the future where passengers can take commercial flights to the moon. Those wanting the comfort of an on-flight blanket pay a cool, $125!

Again, Brad Pitt does all he can to propel this story into an entertainment sphere. And the cinematography is out of this world, with creative angles and vantage points. However, those features are not enough.

Ad Astra gets a “B” for cast diversity. This is very much a white male-dominated cast. However, Ruth Negga has a major supporting role. Kimberly Elise plays an astronaut, but with very little to say. There are other people of color with visible but minor roles.

Ad Astra is rated PG-13 for some violence and bloody images coupled with brief strong language. At 124 minutes, it’s too long.

In the end, Pitt’s performance coupled with the visually stimulating scenes is what gives this film some entertainment value. But don’t see it now. Wait and Rent It

50 Cent is Feuding with Paris Jackson, Rosie Perez to Receive Latinavator Award

VIDEO CONVERSATION: Nicki Minaj says she is retiring and the Barbz says not so fast; is there a Real Housewives of Chicago on the drawing board?

In this episode of What's The 411's Quick Takes, award-winning journalist, Kizzy Cox, and; comedian Onika McLean are talking about Demi Lovato’s Instagram post of a picture of herself exposing cellulite with the caption, Cellulit! and Mike Johnson of Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise fame’s positive response.

R. Kelly is now in the general population and his trial for sexual misconduct is set to start on April 27, 2020; meanwhile, Harvey Weinstein’s trial date is set for January 6, 2020.

What is a 50 Cent story without a feud with someone? This time, 50 is feuding with Paris Jackson over his belief that singer/songwriter Chris Brown is better than Michael Jackson. 

Popular actress Rosie Perez, who is from Brooklyn, will receive the Latinavator Award from John Leguizamo’s NGL Collective. 

Nicki Minaj says she is retiring to start a family and many say they will believe it when they see it.

The US House of Representative’s Judiciary Committee will begin a Congressional Impeachment Probe/Inquiry into Donald Trump’s unconstitutional and alleged illegal activities.

And, rumor has it that Bravo producer Andy Cohen is considering a “Real Housewives” show for the Midwest, Real Housewives of Chicago.

Malik Yoba is Accused of Soliciting Sex from Trans Teen | What's The 411 Ep. 149

VIDEO DISCUSSION: Azealia Banks receives backlash from Lizzo's fans after making "insulting" comments about Lizzo, Cardi B, and Lil Nas X

In this episode of What's The 411, award-winning journalist, Kizzy Cox, and comedian Onika McLean, are discussing news items Malik Yoba, Azealia Banks, Lizzo, Cardi B, Lil Nas X, Kandi Burruss' daughter Riley crowdsourcing money for her birthday, parents making their children feel indebted for being born, and a white woman named LaKeisha.

What’s Poppin’ – CULTURE

Actor Malik Yoba, best known for his starring role as NYPD Detective J. C. Williams on the Fox police drama New York Undercover, and more recently in the television program, Empire, stepped into a hailstorm after making a comment in support of transgender women. Mariah Lopez Ebony, a former transgender prostitute turned activist, claims Yoba paid for sexual favors from child sex workers. The Sigma Beta Club program, which provides counseling and guidance for pre-teen boys and teenage males dropped Yoba as its spokesperson. The program is a service offered by Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

Q. Have you ever heard any whispers about Malik Yoba and can he survive the allegations?

What’s Poppin’ - MUSIC

Azealia Banks, a rapper who hasn't had a hit record in several years, spewed a few words after the singer, Lizzo’s, record Truth Hurts, ascended to No.1 on the Billboard 100 list. Banks wrote a scorching post on Twitter going after Lizzo stating:

“The song is not good, nor is the dumpy fat girl spectacle live set she does. Saddest bit is that the girl is legit talented and truly only being allowed to shine so long as she allows herself to be this millennial mammy of sorts.”

And, Banks didn’t stop there, she went on to say:

“Like illiterate Cardi then fat Lizzo. They are really choosing the worst of the black womens crop to advertise America with. I guess they saw us moving too fast with it because if you realize, after Beyoncé became political in ways they didn’t like, the elite stopped giving her that top top spot and started cycling out these lessers like Cardi and Lizzo (even Lil Nas X trash ass buckbreak mountain anthem) giving them Beyoncé level accolades while both being nowhere near the level of black female excellence she is.”

Q. One could say, Azealia Banks, is at it again. Or, you could say, there is some truth in her statement. What do you think?

What's Poppin' - Real Housewives of Atlanta

Recently, Kandi Burruss’ daughter, Riley Burruss, landed in hot water for an Instagram post on her birthday asking her fans to send her money. Some RHOA fans asked her to stop because her mother’s a millionaire and she shouldn’t be online asking people for money, while others came to her defense.

Q. Do you think this was a wise move on Riley’s part? Were some of her fans right that she shouldn’t be asking for money online?

What's Poppin' - Family Matters

Recently, there was a great article in MadameNoire, titled, Stop Making Your Children Feel Indebted To You For Being Born.

Q. Do you think this is a thing? If so, why do you think most parents do this?

What’s Poppin’ –POP CULTURE

We have talked about cultural appropriation on this show quite often. What do you think it's like to be a white woman with the name LaKiesha?

 

Jeffrey Epstein found dead in his cell; Marlon Wayans on the Cancel Culture | What’s The 411 Ep. 148

VIDEO CONVERSATION: Cassie is engaged to be married, what’s next for Diddy? Porsha Williams takes back Dennis McKinley

In this episode, the hosts, award-winning journalist, Kizzy Cox; comedian, Onika McLean, and; Keisha Wilson are talking about the death of Jeffrey Epstein; Wendy Williams considering friendship with her estranged husband, Kevin Hunter; Cassie Ventura's engagement to Alex Fine may be having an effect on Diddy, why else would he be dating Lori Harvey; RHOA's Porsha Williams and Dennis McKinley are engaged for a second time, and; Marlon Wayans has his say on the Cancel Culture in Comedy

Katrina Walker is Unbreakable | What's The 411 Ep. 147

VIDEO DISCUSSION: Katrina Walker rises from poverty, 5 husbands, and homelessness to become a self-made millionaire

Katrina Walker's story is very inspiring. She went from poverty, four husbands, including an abusive relationship to becoming an author, self-made millionaire, playwright, and TV producer. In addition to this interview, you can get more details in Ms. Walker's new book, Unbreakable: 5 Husbands, Homeless to Self-Made Millionaire the Katrina Walker Story.

 

 

Ready or Not is Gruesome [MOVIE REVIEW]

One of the days many women dream about from childhood is their wedding day. Grace (Samara Weaving) can’t hide her excitement about marrying Alex (Mark O’Brien). They have been blissfully happy together for years. And today, they both are thrilled to formalize their love before family and friends. However, the night after the wedding, Grace, and Alex join in a ritual that has been a part of Alex’s family for generations: selecting a game to play. When Grace pulls the hide-and-seek card as the selected activity, her dream day turns into a nightmare.

Ready or Not is bloody, violent, bloody, morbid, bloody, intriguing, and bloody. If you’re a horror film fan, you’ll love it. And it gets a See It! rating. The screenwriters' layout of this story, detail by detail. Viewers know what’s going on and why. Every character plays a valuable role in the development of this movie.

Samara Weaving is a sympathetic protagonist as the young, trusting, and very much in love bride ultimately relying on her wits to win this life or death game she never imagined playing. Without her strong performance, this film doesn’t work.

The directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett visually highlight the macabre results of every act of violence. You’re not human if don’t wince a few times watching this film.

It’s hard to give Ready or Not, a cast diversity rating because it centers on the (Caucasian) groom’s few family members. I guess they could have had a person of color as part of that group which in this day and age wouldn’t have been uncommon. But they don’t. However, at Grace’s and Alex’s wedding earlier that day, the guests include several people of diverse races.

Ready or Not is 95 minutes in length and rated “R” for violence, bloody images, language throughout, and some drug use. Ready or Not is an exceptional production and again, gets a See It! rating.

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