Review: The Kitchen

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Nothing was really cooking in this kitchen. #TheKitchen flamed-out with a dismal $5.5 million debut given the high-voltage cast (Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elizabeth Moss) and a production budget nearing $38 million.

I went into the film expecting to be entertained, instead I was caught in a world-wind of inane dialogue and a storyline that is at the apex of improbability. There is so much to unpack with this film, where does one begin. It is set in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen in the 70’s. The story is about three women married to members of the Irish mob. Their husbands are arrested by the FBI, convicted and sent to prison. The mob is supposed to take care of them while the men are away, but it’s not quite turning out the way they thought, so the three women devise a grandiose plan to take care of themselves. They take over the protection rackets and then violently snuff-out the competition.

We saw a much MUCH better film of this nature in #ViolaDavis‘ #Widows. But in The Kitchen, we have a jumbled mob/crime thriller that is DOA, dead on arrival because it just doesn’t fit the era nor is it remotely believable. The 1970s was an era when patriarchy, sexism, misogyny and racism was still very much in-your-face. Here we have three women, with one being Black, who not only takes out members of the Irish mob to control Hell’s Kitchen, but they encroach upon the Italian mob’s territory, then forms a partnership with the Italian mob boss. Come on now. I know there were and are women in the mob, and many are prominent figures, but three ordinary housewives suddenly becoming hardened killers and taking all of five minutes to learn the business, is ridiculous. Then let’s not even get into all of the subplot’s twists and turns. It was dizzying and not in a good way. This film shows us that even when you have talented actors, they can’t save a bad script and bad direction.

#MelissaMcCarthy #TiffanyHaddish #ElizabethMoss

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At the Red Carpet Hollywood Premiere of Avengers: Infinity War

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Women’s March LA – 2018

I arrived at the Women’s March VERY early with my staff because it was important to show support for what women, minorities and immigrants are facing in this country. While I was chatting with all of the wonderful men and women who came to march and protest, my god-daughter sent me a text that she and her friends were somewhere in the madness at 20 strong. I was more than proud of her because millennials are the group that will be negatively impacted the most with this administration’s policies. I was also proud of all the women, men, teens and younger kids gathering to make this year’s march a success, as well as to make their voices heard, not just in this country, but around the world.

If my mom were still alive, that first sign above referencing the 1960s, is the one she’d be holding. She believed in equality, was a staunch feminist and would have been at this march, or some march across this country. But she also would have been thoroughly pissed-off that we’re back at square one. But believe this, we’ll make it right mom, one day soon! We cannot and must not continue to allow history to keep repeating itself.

Today women and our allies, came together across this nation and around the world for the Women’s March. Let’s get something done. Rallies and protests are great, but we need to come together as a cohesive unit every single day and not just one day out of the year. I don’t want my nieces, god-daughter or any young girl in and outside of this country, to still be fighting the same fights we’re fighting today, and the fights our ancestors thought would be in my generation’s rearview mirror, against an extremist, patriarchal government who wants to have total control over women, our reproductive rights and how high up the ladder of success we can go. Our gender should NEVER be a deciding factor on any achievement in our lives, and our bodies and what’s inside of them, are our own to govern. The Handmaid’s Tale is a work of fiction and we should never EVER allow something like that to become a life imitating art moment.

As for immigration, everyone should be welcome in this country no matter what race, creed, ethnicity or religious affiliation. The Statue of Liberty says: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

There’s no caveat in that statement which says you’re only welcome if you’re White. This is only one of a multitude of reasons why we’re marching, protesting, resisting and signing people up to vote. The very heart and soul of this country is dependent upon reclaiming our right to call ourselves decent and moral people. We cannot and will not allow a small group of racist oligarchs and kleptocrats to reverse the progress we’ve made in the US regarding race, religious freedom, immigration and women’s rights just because they long for a bygone era of White Male Supremacy. The buck stops with each and everyone one of us and by now, we should have all had ENOUGH!

Film Review: Proud Mary

I wanted to support Taraji P. Henson in her film “Proud Mary” and I’m glad I did. I know the critics savaged it and Rotten Tomatoes gave it 23%. But I’m veering off the freeway with this film. I think a lot of critics didn’t like it because they didn’t understand it, nor did they pick up on or appreciate the nod it gave to the so-called “blaxploitation” films of the 70’s. Another issue the critics appeared to have with Proud Mary is that it wasn’t filled with a ton of CGI, Special EFX and grandiose stunt sequences with the hero, or in this case, the heroine doing a lot of slow motion acrobatics, while mowing down 100 bad guys trying to kill her.

Proud Mary is a definite throwback to 70’s linear storytelling. It wasn’t filled with a multitude of subplots, random characters popping in and out, with no real connection to the overall narrative, and a bunch of not too subtle societal messages pounding the audience over the head like a sledgehammer. People in the theater also didn’t need a Ph.D in – “I think I’m so damned clever filmmaking”. It was a very easy film to watch and follow. The cinematography was clean, the action was just enough to move the story along and make you go WOW, the acting was good; Taraji P. Henson killed it as a badass hitwoman who can dispatch her targets without a second thought. Jahi Di’Allo Winston, who played the kid she looked after, was great. Danny Glover was also on-point as the crime boss Taraji’s character Mary worked for. Everyone cast in Proud Mary did their jobs well.

Were there some issues, of course. I thought the first half of the film moved a bit slow and there were a few small holes in the storyline, but it wasn’t enough to say Proud Mary is a bad film. The major problem with Proud Mary is that it wasn’t promoted enough, and for those who are addicted to slick, colorful, special EFX-laden films with an abundance of camera angle trickery, you’ll probably find Proud Mary boring and flat. But if you want a film that follows the screenwriter’s go-to, as in Freytag’s Pyramid, then you’ll find a warm place in your heart for Proud Mary.

As a sidenote: There were two films in the same vein as Proud Mary. The 1980 film Gloria with Gena Rowlands and the 1999 remake of Gloria with Sharon Stone. If you ever saw either of those films and liked them, then you’ll probably like Proud Mary.

Spoken Word Artist, Jennifer Thompson’s “The Mission”

On the Scoodie, I will occassionally showcase new and established artists, poets, spoken word performers, actors, singers, musicians and dancers. Today’s talent is spoken word artist and poet, Jennifer Thompson with her poem, “The Mission”.

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The Mission

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Showcasing Poet: Emilie Marie Blake’s “The Music”

On the Scoodie, I will occassionally showcase new and established artists, poets, spoken word performers, actors, singers, musicians and dancers. Today, I’m showcasing a very dear friend, award winning poet, Emilie Marie Blake.

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Emilie was at one time a very successful model in the 1960’s and 70’s,

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then changed careers and ended up in post production working on films by such auteurs as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Spike Lee. However, since a very young age, Emilie has had a passion for writing, especially poetry. So without further adieu,

“The Music”.

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Where is the Angel that came to me that night?
The trouble with reality is that its moments run out and need to be refilled
like a pen out of ink.

However, the music quenches
even without the new words.

Feeling… it will have to do.

While waiting for the favor to change

and become a
BLACK BERRY JUICE.

I’m BAAAACK!!

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I’ve been on a rather long hiatus from blogging because sometimes life takes you in some of the most unexpected directions. But now I’m back at it; more energized, more opinionated and even more in your face than ever! So let’s do this and do it BIG!