Review: She’s Gotta Have It

 

She’s Gotta Have It is a comedy-drama TV series created by Spike Lee, which is based on his 1986 film of the same name.

Director Spike Lee burst onto the American film scene in 1986 with She’s Gotta Have It. The film launched Lee’s career and was notable for it’s revolutionary portrayal of female sexuality. After juggling three men, and experimenting with monogamy, the film’s central character Nola Darling, a young black woman juggling three men and giving monogamy a try soon learns that she doesn’t need a man to make herself happy.

The She’s Gotta Have It series portrays the female sexuality as more empowered than before. Nola Darling (played by DeWanda Wise) identifies as a sex positive, polyamorous, pansexual woman who is not a freak, not a sex addict, and not anyone’s property. Outside of her love life, Nola Darling is an artist who is trying to find her voice through her art.

The first season focuses on Darling and the three men she is dating who are updated characters based on the original film. There is Mars Blackmon (Anthony Ramos) who is a goofy, care-free stoner type who works at a bike shop. Then, there is Greer Childs (Cleo Anthony), the vain, muscular male model/photographer who is brings a lot of spontaneity in the bedroom; and there’s Jamie Overstreet (Lyriq Bent), the successful businessman who has a thing for poetry. There is another lover in Nola’s life, but it’s not who you’d expect.

The series comprises of 10 episodes that follow the lives of Darla, her friends and her lovers.

Nola’s candor is the most endearing part of who she is. She’s so complex and yet so simple. At times she’s so hedonistic and selfish she does not realize her antics aren’t necessarily appreciated just because she finds no harm in them. Ms. Darling lives her life with no regard she even dates one of her friends exes and she invited all of her men over for dinner. She’s very unorthodox.

It’s interesting how Nola Darling in the film differs from Nola in the series. In the film, Nola is still no strings attached, but very emotionally invested in her lovers which was obvious when she told Jamie Overstreet that she loved him and she even expressed that she would like to have children. However, in the series Nola is more detached and overtly shows her opposition towards commitment. Throughout the series she shudders at the thought of dating, commitment and having a family.

I like that it showed the viewpoint and life of a black woman in America. It addressed all types of issues such as, assault against women, catcalling, body shaming, body image and more. The biggest theme was black feminism and female empowerment. Nola was unapologetic and confident in the way that she lived her life which was empowering. She does not live her life for anyone, but herself and she isn’t anyone’s property.

I also really liked the film and music references that were made throughout the series. Nola was always quoting movies and such especially when she would change the subject while she was talking to one of the men she was dating.

It started off kinda corny and over the top with the theatrics. At time it seemed as if Nola’s Afro Centricity was over the top and forced, but Overall the series was great and relevant to today’s society. She’s Gotta Have It embraced hip hop culture, art, poetry, sexuality, societal issues and more all in one.

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Movie Review: Mudbound 

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Last week, Mudbound premiered in select theaters and streamed on Netflix.

Mudbound is a period drama film directed by Dee Rees and is based on the 2008 novel of the same name. The film features stars like Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Carey Mulligan and Garrett Hedlund.

Mudbound is set in 1945 shortly after World War II in rural Mississippi, a time and place where Jim Crow laws were alive and well. The film focuses on the of lives of two families who coexist on the McAllan family’s farmland.

The Jackson’s are a family of sharecroppers who unwillingly welcome the incoming McAllan family members that moved to Mississippi to start a new life. The Jacksons are a family of sharecroppers who struggle to maintain the land they have along with other racial and societal barriers they must deal with. Florence (Mary J. Blige) and Hap (Rob Morgan) Jackson do the best with what little they have so they can raise their children and protect them from the evils of the world. Their eldest son, Ronsel (Jason Mitchell) sets off to Europe to fight in WWI. Ronsel sees a side of the world that is unlike anything at home. The way of life and the way black people are received in Europe baffled him which he expressed in his letters that he wrote to his family back in Mississippi.

Then, there is the McAllan family who have come from their Memphis home with the intent to turn the McAllan land into a farm again. Henry (Jason Clarke) drives down with his openly racist father, Pappy (Jonathan Banks), wife, Laura (Carey Mulligan), and their daughters. The land the McAllan’s own is also the same land that the Jackson family sharecrop a portion of.

Two soldiers return to the Mississippi town after fighting in the war. Jamie McAllan returns home to his family as hero who is battling PTSD. Ronsel comes back home a hero like Jamie McAllan, but with less recognition and more racism. An unlikely friendship forms between the soldiers who come from two completely different backgrounds, but share the same mental struggles that the war inflicted upon them. Their friendship isn’t well received by the racists in the town who force Jamie to make a life changing decision in effort to severe their friendship.

Mudbound was heart wrenching and captivating. It touched on the realities of the black war heroes who explored the world and saw what it had to offer besides blatant racism. Moreover, I think that the film embodied the struggles that many black people faced while living in the south. There was scene where Ronsel had just come back home with all of his honorary badges on and was shopping in a local store for his family. As he went to head out the front door, he encountered Pappy McAllan who demanded that he leave out the backdoor and called him a nigger. The sacrifices black people had to make in order to save their lives and stroke the egos of the racist whites is unmeasurable. The McAllans were generally “tolerable” of black people, but they were unnecessarily inconsiderate when it came to the requests that they made of them. Henry requested that Florence come help his sick children in the wee hours of the night and then his wife, Laura asked that she permanently stay to help with the children with no regard to her own family and household. The actors did a great job especially Mary J. Blige she blew me away. I really enjoyed this movie and can’t wait to see what else Dee Rees has in store for the film industry.

Street Drama, Top Boy is Making a Comeback

DOHX5FtWAAAtPtDMy intent was to write about the series weeks ago and I forgot, but earlier this week on Instagram Drake announced that the series is coming soon on Netflix, which was great news to me and many of the other fans of the series.

There was a lot of speculation over the years about what was going to Drake’s involvement with the series. Back in 2016, he posted on Instagram that Top Boy would rise again. In 2014, he shared that he was a fan of the series and made a references in his Instagram comments.

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Top Boy is a gritty series set in the fictional Summerhouse Estate in East London. The series depicts the lives of drug dealers, Dushane and Sully along with the youth who are either recruited by them or affected by their drug dealing.

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Netflix UK tweeted a thread from their account giving a timeline of how series 3 of Top Boy came to be. They also confirmed that it will stream on Netflix in 2019. Drake will be working with Netflix, the creative team along with actors, Ashley Walters and Kane Robinson to make the show come back to life.

I love that this series is coming because all of the good British series die off too early, but see a series like this make a comeback especially with it having black actors at the forefront. I think it is important to have many tv shows and movies that depict that different ways black people live their lives in different parts of the world.

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The series originally aired on British broadcaster, Channel 4 for two series. In 2019, the series will air on Netflix with Drake, Adel Nur, Jamal Henderson and Maverick Carter will all be on board as the executive producers.

The Fall Follows the Life of the Belfast Strangler

The Fall is really one of my favorite Netflix Originals. I did my forensic psychology presentation on the main character because he just had much to off of.

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The series is a British-Irish series set in Ireland that follows the life of bereavement counselor, Paul Spector who lives a double life. Spector is seemingly a counselor, husband and father, but he is also a murderer known as the “Belfast Strangler.” As a child, Paul Spector witnessed his mother’s suicide and as a result, he was placed in foster care where he was sexually abused for years. Despite what he went through as a child he was able to maintain some sort of normalcy in his life specifically by having a family and a job. He seems to be socially competent and loving to towards his children, not necessarily his wife whom he acts distant and disconnected towards.

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Secretly, Paul Spector is sadistic and obsessive when it comes to his victims who he stalks and kills by strangulation. Most of his victims are young, white woman with white collar jobs. He stalked one of his victims while out with his daughter.

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He also had a notebook and video recordings where he keeps track of all of his victims and stores it in the crawlspace that is above his daughter’s bed.

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The little bit of personal life that he did have outside of his family stemmed from his motivation to kill when he stalked his victims or was being manipulative like when he had an inappropriate relationship with his children’s babysitter, Katie Benedetto. Spector took advantage of Katie’s crush on him and used her to impede the police’s investigation on him.

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Spector was eventually caught, but the authorities investigation didn’t go the way they expected it to. I feel like they maybe have underestimated Spector’s intelligence, childhood trauma and his ability to manipulate.

While in custody, Spector had to assist the investigators with the search for his ex-girlfriend who he held hostage in the woods before being caught. Paul Spector was shot by a former counseling client’s ex-husband who suspected that they were having an inappropriate relationship. After being shot and coming out of a short coma, Paul Spector claimed to have amnesia and no recollection of anything that occurred in the last ten years, which meant he could not remember any of the crimes he committed which consisted of him killing and harming multiple women including his ex-girlfriend, Rose Stagg, whom he held hostage for talking to the authorities about him. Moreover, Paul Spector had even attacked Detective Superintendent Gibson during an interrogation and afterwards started a riot, killed an inmate and then himself.

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This series was so captivating because it followed the life of a serial by showing how intricate their thought processes are. Every move Paul Spector made was calculated. He made himself into a sadistic man who was robotic during the day in order to keep his behavior under wraps and unknown. His character was so mysterious because even when you thought you were beginning to know or understand him you were left in the dark again.

Moonlight *Spoilers*

So I just recently watched the 8 Academy Award Nominated film, Moonlight. This coming of age film touches on the important issues that tend to be forgotten about or people turn a blind eye to. Drug addiction, adolescence, and sexual identity are all issues that the main character, Chiron faced. This film really tugged on my heart strings. There was a lot of heartache, but there were some triumphs.

 

The film is told in three parts which follow the key points in Chiron’s life.

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Little:

As a kid, Chiron also called Little is constantly bullied at school and his drug addicted mother, Paula doesn’t help much. Juan, a local drug dealer takes Chiron under his wing. Juan and his girlfriend, Teresa provide Chiron with a sort of safe haven. Chiron struggles to come to terms with his sexual identity all while dealing with his mother’s worsening drug habit as a child. Chiron endured during his childhood. His mother was not always around and whenever she was coming down from her high she would be aggressive towards him. He learns early on what the slur “faggot” meant and that Juan is a drug dealer who fed his mother’s crack addiction. However, Chiron still continued to hang out with Juan and Teresa as they sort of acted as his surrogate parents. Throughout his hardships, he managed to have one friend, Kevin. Kevin always seemed to randomly pop up whenever Chiron was down or going through it.

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Chiron:

Chiron is now a teenager still struggling with his identity.He’s still dealing with bullying only that is different is that now he’s in high school. In class, he deals with constant verbal and physical abuse from a bully, Terrell. After school, he would typically avoid Terrell and his crew and go to Juan and Teresa’s. In the film, it is clear that Juan died, but not much is said about what happened. One day after coming home and having his mother take all of the money Teresa gave him he sleeps at the train station, but unable to sleep comfortably he wanders to the beach. At the beach he bumps in Kevin, his childhood friend. They sit, talk and smoke some weed. At some point their conversation, the mood changes. Chiron and Kevin shared a deeply intimate moment that stuck with Chiron for the rest of his life. Despite their intimate moment, Kevin gave into peer pressure just a few days later at the hands of Chiron’s bully, Terrell. this time the bullying was apart of a hazing ritual. The hazing ritual resulted in Chiron being brutally beaten in front of his peers. Chiron felt there was no point in reporting to the authorities he broke down in his principal’s office and just kept saying you don’t even know. He felt and knew that pressing charges wouldn’t make a difference so the next day he took matters into his own hands. He returned to school the following day and beat Terrell over the back with a chair. Consequently, Chiron was arrested and sent to juvie in ATL.

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Black:

Years later, Chiron is now an adult. He became a drug dealer after someone from juvie put him on to it. Everything in his life was pretty slowed down and consistent. There were no traces of the insecure Chiron from Liberty City up until he gets a surprising phone call in the middle of the night. He picks up the phone thinking it is his mother calling him from rehab, but it is actually Kevin. The call has Chiron lost for words, but Kevin managed to keep the conversation going. The phone call ended with Kevin telling him that since he works at a restaurant whenever Chiron decides to visit Miami he’ll cook for him.  Shortly after that conversation Chiron visits his mother at the rehab facility she lives at. They have a heart wrenching conversation about her lack of love and care for him as a child and how regretful she is. The next day, Chiron drives from Atlanta to Miami to see Kevin. They sit and chat for awhile with mostly Kevin talking because Chiron seems apprehensive and unsure of Kevin. Kevin closes the restaurant and Chiron gives him a ride home. Back at Kevin’s place they seem to beat around the bush, but Chiron finally opens up. He says that Kevin is the only man he’s been intimate with and that he has never been with anyone else since. The film comes to a close with them embracing one another and talking.

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Review: there’s so much about this movie that I love. I love the all black cast. I loved how passionate the characters were. An LGBT movie was needed for the black community. I love and feel like there are so many parts of this movie that resonates with a lot of people. The young men who played Chiron as a child and teen did a great job. They had a big responsibility of understanding difficult issues and portraying them for the world to see and grasp. It was also interesting how Chiron never came out and explored after the moment he had with Kevin. In one of the last few scenes, he tells Kevin when he left Miami he built himself from the ground up and wanted to forget the things of his past. However, he never pretended to be straight or have any relationships with other men. It seemed as though that trip to Miami made him bring all of things he tried to put in the back of his mind back at the forefront for him to come to terms with. The writers and production team did a good job depicting a situation where there is beauty in the struggle.

My Favorite Netflix Original Series

By: S. Easley

Narcos

Narcos goes back in time to follow the rise and ultimately the fall of  Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar. Most of the show is in Spanish so if you like watching movies and shows with subtitles like myself you’ll love this show. It’s interesting to get a little history lesson on who hip hop culture seems to love referencing. Season 1 is already available to watch and season 2 will be available this Fall.

 

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This sci-fi series follows 8 people from different parts of the world who somehow begin to connect with one another. They begin to share thoughts and visions which comes in handy when they all realize their new found ability is now a threat to their existence. I really enjoy this show because it connects cultures and people that would typically be seen as apples and oranges. It even focuses on sexuality, gender and religion.

 

Master of None

This show is something pretty much any young adult can relate to. It follows the story of Dev living in New York who is just simply trying to figure out life like most of us are. He’s trying to navigate through work, his parents, friends and his relationships. Life is one big juggling contest and this show depicts it pretty well in my opinion.

 

Stranger Things

A new sci-fi series set in the 80s that focuses on the disappearance of a young boy named Will. He mysteriously goes missing on his way home from hanging with his friends. Will’s disappearance causes a series of strange events and even uncovering things that were hiding in plain sight.

Blizzard Movies/Tv Shows

If you live on the east coast I’m pretty sure you’re experiencing this blizzard. We’re all snowed in and bored so with that being said I’ll be spending my weekend watching movies and tv shows all day so I thought I’d share a few of my “must watch” movies and shows with you guys

  • Top Boy – British series following drug dealers in London
  • Girlhood – French movie about a Black teenage girl looking for acceptance and a way out of her troubled home life
  • Mississippi Damned – A movie that follows different members of an African American family that are struggling to get by in the south
  • Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 – Follows a woman as she seeks revenge on those that have wronged her
  • Sense 8 – supernatural series that focuses are 8 people who are somehow connected through a newfound power

By: S. Easley

 

The Affair

By: S. Easley

This is a pretty captivating series on Showtime. It starts off slow, but picks up and gets really intense towards the end of the season. This show basically follows the story of Noah and Alison’s affair and how it links to a murder investigation. Their summer fling had long lasting effects on their loved ones especially their now  ex spouses . The key characters of the show are Noah, Helen (Noah’s ex wife), Alison, and Cole (Alison’s ex husband). There are also children involved. Noah and Helen have four children. Alison and Cole had a child who is deceased. The show consists of flashbacks that follow the affair and also goes back to the present time where it leads into how the affair connects to the murder investigation of the death of Alison’s ex brother-in-law.

My favorite part of this series is that it is told in more than one part meaning one part is told from one person’s perspective and then the other half of the episode is told from another. It is interesting to see how differently people perceive events and something someone has said to them. I enjoy this series mostly because it doesn’t really give you an opportunity to feel like anyone is a bad person.