Tag Archive | cinema

The 2018 Recap Edition

It dawned on me that my 2018 recap which had been roaming around in my head for a month was never put to paper. So how would I sum up 2018, in the immortal words of Dave Chappelle – I’m broke, [word I don’t say]. I’m broke! Wow the hits kept coming.

  1. I got a new car. I worked so hard to keep my beloved Smokey alive at great expense. In the end, my car had this annoying oil leak that three dealerships and several mechanics couldn’t identify. The accelerator pump died which meant I went from 0 to 8 after any complete and total stop for about 30 seconds until it decided to sorta go 50. But I couldn’t let go. But once it got the shimmy shakes when idling I had to let it go at 200,8XX miles. Love live Pearlie Sue.
  2. Black Panther. As an apathetic Hampton grad, the highlight of my first quarter was meeting Ruth Carter – a fellow alum whose career I have been following for 20 years. Being from Hampton really feels like a cult sometimes though. I will see folks I went to school with and the first question I get asked is when is the last time I was on campus. Ummm..what about important issues like is this woman and children next to you your family or what? However, Black Panther had the entire community hype. I still have a Lesotho blanket in my Amazon cart but broke. Wakanda Forever. Peep my General Okoye painting.
  3. Despite my lack of funds, I did a lot of long weekend and day trips.
    1. Went to Dover Downs for my birthday. I really only like to do one thing for my birthday – watch March Madness and eat chicken wings. We discovered that though Dover allows sports betting on football, which is not true for basketball. So watching and no gambling for us.
    2. We traveled to Ocean City for the first time since the first year I moved here. We stayed in a brand new hotel at a discount but truly why does it cost $300 a night to visit there?
    3. We went to New York for Pinknic. Wow was it hot. So really, really hot. I already own cute pink clothes, so I was good to go. It was ridiculously expensive. $70 for a bottle of rose or $12 for a frose. And it was all house music (Yay for me. Boo for other people who wrongly don’t love house music).
    4. I went to Detroit for Labor Day for the Jazz Festival. I made it to tv apparently since we were sitting right by the camera. Thank goodness I love Esperanza and could easily look entertained.
    5. Finally we went Austin for Austin City Limits. I had a bit of an incident the first day of the vacay with an evil scooter. Austin is such a drink and walk around town. We completely wasted money on that city tour as we saw nothing we didn’t see just walking around normally. ACL was great though they swapped Childish Gambino for Travis Scott and I am old and he makes songs I don’t know. Camilla C. (I ain’t googling the spelling) was so cute but her catalog is short. We really were there for Janelle.
  4. I recall counselling my baby cousin (waves if she is reading) that you can go out regularly with ever even thinking of a club or bar. That was certainly true for me. Summer of 2018 was marked by continuous rain, so many of my typical summer activities didn’t happen.
    1. Attended a movie screening. You have to see the movie to understand the earrings.
    2. Painted and sipped. Thank goodness I found a spot that outlines the work because you don’t want to see my previous experience attempting to draw a pumpkin.
    3. I went to fun cooking classes, learning how to make pasta and fry chicken. Honest to heaven, the very first time I made fried chicken, it was absolutely perfect – well seasoned, crispy and juicy. I peaked. I never made chicken that amazing again. But hoping I can try again with confidence.
    4. I took a graffiti and DJ class. Don’t worry all my DJ friends are safe.
    5. I took a poker class and won nothing. Someone gave me a trinket though as she won twice, and I happily took it.
  5. Without trying, I visited three Black-owned hotels. First, I went to Salamander Resort. Smaller than I thought it would be. So ages ago I stayed at the Biltmore in Coral Gables, same problem. It appears to be this sprawling resort and it is amazing, but not truly as huge as I thought. We spent the weekend at Akwaaba Inn in D.C. It’s been there for 14 years and yet never made it there. Plus I have never been to a bed and breakfast in my life. This was so cool. I definitely plan to go to more. Finally, I have been obsessed with the Ivy Hotel in Baltimore since I saw it in a magazine. Happily I found a spa deal and had a lovely spa day and tour of this highly exclusive hotel. I may never afford to stay there, but I can get a massage.
  6. I went to Spain.
  7. I became a boss. It’s much harder than it appears on television. I am no Michael Scott, but I definitely had some odd, exhausting days that felt like weeks that would make it a very funny episode on my version of The Government Office. And good bosses get no glory. It’s all about developing people to be their best or some such nonsense. I did sit down with a really useful executive coach who provided practical advice to ease some interactions.
  8. I started and didn’t finish a lot of television. I started so much and yet finished so little. I don’t even know what I was doing with my nights. Maybe I was overwhelmed. There is so much television. I literally finished a bunch of started television over the Christmas holidays. And am still nowhere near finished. And my book reading suffered. I only read 7 books this year and the only thing that got me that far was some long plane rides.
  9. Did I have a favorite movie this year (Black Panther withstanding)? I cannot say. I didn’t see a lot of the popular and critical darlings. I loved Widows but some people did not (I guess).
  10. Music was good, yet social media makes it so difficult to like certain artists. There were lots of soft, crooning female singers to like this year – Ari Lennox, H.E.R., Ella Mai. I’m old and current hip hop mostly annoys me. I continued my consistent concert tradition independent of those I mentioned earlier with, reverse order:
    1. Anita Baker
    2. Bilal
    3. Zo!
    4. Big Freedia / Tank and the Bangas (saw them twice)
    5. Elton John (Goodbye Yellow Brick Road)
    6. Raphael Saadiq
    7. Hamilton (second time is the charm!)
    8. Capital Jazz Festival (In the rain as always. But a tent this time)
    9. Shabazz Palaces (this was obviously free)
    10. Black Alley
  11. Went to some out there parties.
    1. Attended the Fresh Ball courtesy of a friend and got dress up and listen to good hip hop There is a difference.
    2. NMAAHC held the most fun Derby Day party. We learned about the history of Black jockeys, wore amazing hats and nibbled traditional treats from each of the races. Which meant crabcakes for Preakness; hot browns for Kentucky Derby; pretzels for Belmont.
    3. Went to the worst mud ball of Preakness ever. Some attendees slipped, fell and were covered head to toe in mud. I’m taking a year off.
    4. Diner en Blanc was at Nats stadium, which was extremely unpopular due to the length of time to process in through security, sitting in the rafters and not being able to step onto the field. Dah well. Great parties can’t last forever.
    5. The National Portrait Gallery threw an anniversary party. Sadly the full space wasn’t open to partygoers. So the Michelle Obama portrait continues to elude me. But Amy Sherald was there.
    6. I threw axes at a Christmas Party.
  12. My tribe and I recreated my amazing bridal shower by hiring a driver to visit wineries along the Frederick Wine Trail. These elevated excursions we plan for ourselves are the best.
  13. Let me tell you. This diet from the wedding completely fell off. First of all, weddings are exhausting enterprises so you naturally lose weight with nervous energy and not eating. But that drinking green smoothies and popping mints as snack replacements couldn’t last long. I tried my best with exercise but I went to lamb festivals, and high end steakhouses and cooking classes. It was all so delicious. But at this age, I really need to concentrate all my efforts on dry salad.
  14. I continued my fitness outings. I danced to Afrobeat, Soca, Bellydance and Zumba. So many classes are devoted to dancing. Dancing isn’t the best workout for me because I spend too much time concentrating on if I got the moves right and forget the exercise part. I pounded. This was my favorite. Such a release of aggression. I took a kettlebell class. I didn’t do badly due to my semi-commitment to boot camp. However, this boot camp is ruining me for my preferred exercise – yoga. I truly love yoga, everything else I do is make sure my cute clothes fit. There I was in aerial yoga doing a backflip when my right shoulder gave out and I tumbled right onto my head. My muscles are so tired and achy that my practice is regressing.
  15. I barely golfed this year. I think I let those bitter bitties convince me into not coming back. But the end of the season once the rained cleared, I truly regretted my decision. I am not the best golfer by any stretch of the imagination, but I really liked the challenge it gave me. It took consistent effort and concentration, which isn’t my strong suit and a growth area for me.
  16. I realized that my hobbies weren’t strong. It’s important to have hobbies as I realized after having a pre-adolescent pen pal who constantly asked me what I liked to do. “I am a grown-up, kid! I don’t do anything but start television I don’t finish!” Anyhoo, I attempted to write and stuck to it an entire two months. Someday soon I need to start reciting these story ideas to myself (before my husband thinks I am crazy) and write them down. What is my blockage?
  17. So I mentioned that I was broke. Well, being a landlord sucks on ice. I went two months without a tenant after finally ridding myself of the tenant from hell in late 2017. Plus we had an unfortunate incident with a pipe bursting and damaging the basement. So we got all new pipes and walls. I didn’t want all new pipes and walls. But here we are.
  18. For 2018, I didn’t set resolutions. I didn’t even make a vision board. So there was nothing to judge against by the end of the year. I truly was in a grumpy funk at the beginning of the year, because I felt under water with finances. I made strong ones this year. (Hope I don’t fail).

That was my 2018. Here’s to 2019 (two months in)! Check the gallery.

 

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The Nothing To See Here Edition

Last weekend I saw the Best Man Holiday. I was very excited. I remember the original movie came out right when I graduated from college and it was nice to see a movie about a group of Black college graduates, just like me. I of course told no one of my excitement because well…race-themed movies (thanks USA Today!) are fraught with unsolicited commentary. I’ll happily admit that I am a movie snob. I like intricately plotted, well written, superbly acted movies and silly romantic comedies (my guilty pleasure instead of the usual reality shows). My quibble is that a lot of popular movies directed at Black audiences or with Black characters as the lead rarely possess those four elements I prefer. See Tyler Perry.

But there’s another problem with telling people about my excitement about the movie. Black people hate seeing themselves on the screen. Is this harsh? Yes. Am I over exaggerating? Probably. The endless commentary surrounding movies is exhausting. No other artistic endeavor is dissected so deeply.

I remember when Brown Sugar came out. It was after a slate of films such as The Best Man, Love and Basketball, The Wood, etc. came out. A lady in my book club stated that she was tired of attractive, educated Black people in love movies. She wanted to see more movies with “regular” Black people. Here’s the issue: she was a pretty, college graduate with a white collar job living in Montgomery County. So I told her, if movie was made about her, she would be closer to Sanaa Lathan, than say Maxine in Soul Food. Her idea of regular wasn’t even who she was. This reminded me of another conversation we had in college, but I digress.

With the growth of social media, people who hate everything finally have a platform and can form partnerships with other people who hate everything. It is awesome for them and terrible for everyone else as they suck the joy out of everything. This strong vocal group of everything haters spend a lot of time disparaging movies with predominantly African American casts. So much so, you feel bad for even seeing certain movies, let alone liking them.

The vitriol aimed at The Help forced me to filter the term out of my twitter feed. The socially serious Black folks (see I used W.E.B DuBois for them) really hated the fact that Blacks were once domestics. This same group had similar reactions to The Butler. They say they disliked the movie but I knew the truth. I felt it was actually insulting to our ancestors who served as domestics. As someone with two out of three grandmothers as domestics, I really didn’t like how the arguments against The Help were framed. I actually challenged a well-known blogger on it.

The everything haters also feel that the actor is a reflection of the character, so that becomes a complaint. For example, folks really hate Terrance Howard–not for the crazed marital issues but because he commented on baby wipes–and thus his presence negates the quality of all movies that he is in. And there are a lot of actors people simply don’t like, so movies with those actors are trash. Jennifer Hudson and Terrance Howard made a movie together that I knew would never prosper. Amazingly people really like Nia Long though she is truly a meanie in real life.

People don’t like Black people being unhappy in movies, so slave movies are awful (12 Years a Slave). However, if the slave isn’t sad enough or has too much power then that makes slavery look too good (Django Unchained).

Apparently romantic comedies must be rooted in realistic situations or shouldn’t be made (Baggage Claim). These people obviously never see White romantic comedies, which don’t follow that rule at all.

Black characters cannot be too nice to White people or they are not down with the struggle because we all know in reality African-Americans are always holding meetings to discuss how to rise as a people.

Comedies may lead to cooning. Romances may cause people to think we are overly sexualized. Dramas only highlight our problems. We can’t be impoverished because there are so many middle class African-Americans. We definitely shouldn’t be lower class teenagers being helped by a dedicated non-Black teacher through the use of chess, dancing, hockey or writing. However, if the teacher is also Black then no one will go see it. We cannot make all the African-Americans affluent because that it not realistic. Historic dramas are bad because once the details are scrutinized, someone always gets something wrong.  “She had a brown pocketbook, not a black one!” Women can’t be the lead because that makes the movie boring. But if a woman is the lead, she must have a nice boyfriend or it is man bashing.  

There are basically two pretty safe movie genres. Christian movies: this is why I have counted a dozen movies in the last 5-7 years where the congregation is trying to save the church through a choir competition or a bake sale. Okay, I have only seen two of these movies and chalked the rest of them up as the same plot. And impossible Black man movies: Denzel, Will (not After Earth though, which looked terrible), occasionally Jamie (No Django!), etc. Hopefully, a pretty Black woman will play his love interest. I think this is how most Black actresses keep their mortgages paid. Salli Richardson and Kimberly Elise are the queens of this.

So in hindsight, I didn’t see anything last weekend. No commentary please.