Thank You, Beverly Clearly….

…..for the joy of a childhood book. When you only had five channels in those boring, lonely pre-Atari days. A good book would make you sad because it ended and you’d miss those characters. I did not know until yesterday that there was a series!!!! I’m thinking about buying it!!! LOL!!!

Just found the below last night. It’s awful (an ’80s product 😉 ) but I SO don’t care! LOL!!!!

229-Word Review of “Genius: Aretha”

It takes all eight hours to get the point of Season 3 of National Geographic’s “Genius,” profiling The Queen of Soul

At one point, Glenn Thurman shows Aretha Franklin The Trust Fall and it takes a little bit of internal work for Aretha to make it. But make it she does. Watching eight hours of Genius‘s third season requires a lot of trust in showrunner Suzan-Lori Parks, because the viewer has to wade through aaaa lottttt of Lifetime-type, music-biopic tropes to get to the core of Franklin’s story: She is a woman who is sometimes-comfortably trapped in concentric gender and music circles, pushing out only when they threaten her windpipe. Each burst-through creates its own cycles of searches. Aretha’s stoic speaking voice is the outer shell that hides deep insecurities but also hidden strengths. The seemingly endless flashbacks show where and why the holding patterns stick; her grown-ness comes in her 40s, as an unavoidable right-of-passage beckons. Parks has said she read all the books and articles, so while the hours went by this viewer had to trust that she was going in a direction worthy of so much (relatively) limited discussion of politics and society that seemingly dominated the show’s first two seasons. What the playwright has shown is how complicated the sexist male circles are to surmount–how it takes time and patience to wedge through, to prove oneself, to burst free into a full identity who can do anything–even sing opera on 15 minutes notice.

98-Word Review of “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” A.K.A. “The Snyder Cut”

Verdict: Much better than Joss Whedon (and I’m not by a long shot Snyder’s biggest fan; he thinks every superhero film is his Watchmen in disguise), but you should watch the chaptered film as a six-part mini-series. (Steppenwolf was actually a great villain! Who would’vethunk?!?) What was fascinating to me was how much the Black characters–Cyborg and his father–were the center of the story; Ray Fisher and Joe Morton are probably celebrating, and should! Worth the wait, and I hope this very dark universe will continue in episodic TV form on HBO Max. Superfriends overload? Never!

UPDATE: So it was supposed to be episodic TV, a mini-series, from the beginning of the HBO Max deal, but…..

Asante Sana, Paul Brock

Paul Brock, the fixer

As my friend Malik Russell once said of him, “He is Black media royalty.” I knew him as a fixer–a guy who knew everybody in Washington, D.C. and every other center of power and could solve anyone’s problem. I will never forget that he let me tag along with him to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Colorado.

89-Word Review of “Coming 2 America”

Wesley Snipes and Eddie Murphy star in COMING 2 AMERICA Photo: Quantrell D. Colbert © 2020 Paramount Pictures

It doesn’t completely work, but not for lack of trying. As homages to funnier movies go, it’s fine, just silly instead of witty. The emotional core of the movie–remembering and knowing who you really are, deep inside–almost saves it. The feminism was refreshing. But the obvious-ness of this kind of (dated) film is supposed to be overshadowed by the humor, not the (musical) performances and extraordinary fashion sense. If there’s a Part III, I hope this Eddie-Murphy-party goes to a script doctor to punch up the hilarity.

327-Word Film Review: Catnip

(I’m about to finish this film for the second time as I type this, so I think I can say a few intelligent words.)

This masterpiece is fascinating because of the tension within the film itself. If expanded to the six hours it should have been, what could have been an amazing Season 3 of the Black Panther Party HBO series of my dreams is instead a compressed, truncated story that pushes against the false-equivalencies the format has set up. How can you do a Black Panther film and not talk in-depth about the Ten Point Platform and Program? Or show the naked brutality that led to the naked brutality on all three sides? (The third side is the violence within the Party.) The Judas and the Black Messiah cast is Oscar-bound: LaKeith Stanfield does not miss one Shakespearian note, complexity showing in every brow and movement. Dominique Fishback steals every scene from Daniel Kaluuya, top to bottom, beginning to end, her poetry and prose indistinguishable. The writers and the director are happily trapped in the web of intrigue and anguish caused by Panther informant William O’Neal, but that emphasis comes at the expense of knowing him–and the quasi-sympathetic white FBI agent!–better than Hampton because the filmgoers enter in the middle of the latter’s movie. Having the Panther leader recite his greatest speech-hits does not compensate for this in the way the filmmakers think, but it’s all they decide to do. What do the Panthers believe in again? How’d they come about? What’s their goal? Sad that the political-personal merging, the key to so many American film classics of almost a century, was not good enough here for some (commercial) reason. This spectacular has made this writer want to burn Mario Van Peebles Panther and toss Spike Lee’s almost-30-years-old Malcolm X into the closet of film history, but The Spook Who’s Sat By The Door’s and Reds‘ clearly-explained political analysis, the focal point of its dramatic core, continues to beckon in the Panther’s afterglow while this reviewer is left wondering what might have been and what still could be.