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What Men Want

He Said -by Donnell M. Regusters

Producer Will Packer has made a name for himself in Hollywood by producing a lot of comedies with an array of Black talent that do very well at the box office. Films like Girls Trip think like a Man, Ride Along and Wedding Ringer has made Will Packer a hot commodity in Hollywood. His most recent picture is a “re-imagining” of Mel Gibson’s film "What Women Want" renamed" What Men Want " directed by Adam Shankman (The Wedding Planner, Hairspray 2007 remake) I walked into the film with subdued expectations. I remember thinking to myself, self why do I want to see Taraji in a movie Mel Gibson already made. To my surprise, I enjoyed the film. "What Men Want" flips the original movie by taking us into the mind of all the men she encounters. Some may say, do we want to know what goes on in the minds of men, but that is where the comedy begins. She finds that the random thoughts of men can go all over the place and that having access to the mind of so many can be exhausting.

Taraji plays Ali Davis a dynamic woman who works as a successful sports agent. She is a woman in a field that is dominated by men but can play rough and tumble with the guys and knows her value. To her surprise, she is passed over for what she thought was a well-deserved promotion by her boss played by Brian Bosworth. Yes, the Boz plays Ali’s boss, and he was surprisingly good. Ali can’t figure out what else she needs to do to move up in her company. After a night out drinking with her girls and an encounter with a psychic played by Erykah Badu. She receives a blow to the head and awakens to find out she can hear what men are thinking.

It was refreshing to see actors who don’t usually do comedy holding their own with a great comedic talent like Tracey Morgan who plays the father of the number 1 draft pick. That scenario alone should give you an idea into the foolishness she will encounter.

Aldis Hodge portrays a single father she meets out at a bar for a one-night stand. He comes to her office to see her at the perfect time. Now she can show off her man. The man that she is fabricating to be her husband to gain access to the executive suite.

The film is entertaining inserted with a few lessons. Not lessons that beat you over the head but life lessons you get from just observations. For instance like when Aldis Hodge and Richard Roundtree are together. Here are two Black men on screen bonding between generations. It’s something we don’t see often. It felt warm and genuine. The chemistry they exuded on screen is something I would like to see in a drama featuring them as father and son. Their scenes showed me more about what men want then all the mind reading Ali could do.

I don’t think I walked away knowing What Men Want, but I did walk away laughing. The film has an R rating for language and sex, but it felt like it was a film you could watch with your teenager or your parents. One of those lazy day weekend films you can sit back and enjoy with your family.

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She Said - By Kathia Woods

Taraji P. Henson is re-teaming with her "Think Like A Man" Will Packer on this Mel Gibson remake. Henson portrays sports agent Alison "Ali" Davis. Ali is a career woman and focused on making partner. She has no time for men, friends or anything social however life does not always go the way we want.

Our with her friends for a Girls Night out she has a reading from psychic Sister followed by a fall on the head. Suddenly she's able to read Men minds.

Initially, Ali resists her new powers at first, but soon she realizes this might be the insight she needs to gain access to the boys' room. Armed with this unique ability, she seeks to turn her fortunes around.

She was so focused on the new path that she didn't prepare for the downside that came with her new abilities. Will Ali sacrifice the key to the executive lounge in exchange for love, friendship and more importantly integrity? Those are some of the topic at hand with this remake.

Taraji is at her best in Romcoms. She is funny and delightful as Ali. Supporting cast Erykah Badu is hilarious as a Psychic that operates behind a Hair Salon. Veterans comedians, Phoebe Robinson, Tamala Jones, and Wendi McLendon-Covey. are entertaining as Ali's inner circle. Honorable mention goes to Josh Brenner as Ali trusty assistant Brandon.

Some of my favorite parts of the movie are the scenes between Brandon and Ali. He's one of the few people in her life that see through her facade. It's also nice seeing Aldis Hodge get a turn as a leading man. He's handsome but equally funny. Veteran actor Richard Roundtree as Ali's Dad Skip is also darling.

Is this story a little predictable yes but what it may lack depth it has charm? So if you're looking for a date night movie, this fits the bill.

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Somos Calentura

(We Are The Heat)

by Kathia Woods

Latin America hasn’t always done an excellent job of representation when it comes to Afro-Latinos.

Colombia whose two most notable celebrities are Shakira, and Sofia Vergara has the second largest Afro population in South America. So naturally when tourist travel to Colombia, they are somewhat surprised to notice that the average Colombian doesn't resemble those celebrities.

Somos Calentura” is a film that helps chip away at the misrepresentation.

This movie tells the story of a group of Afros Colombian friends. Harvey and his three friends are trying to navigate through the everyday struggle of living in Buenaventura. They come from humble beginnings with not many options.

Music and dance provide an escape from the harsh reality of life. Dancing is a pivotal part of their escape.

Like so many before them, dance could provide a legal escape out of poverty. So when the opportunity presented itself to enter a dance contest with a sizable purse, the boys jump on it.

Director Jorge Navas does an excellent job of showing the struggles; however, it’s not what “Somos Calentura” primary focus is. Crime and poverty are a reality in Buena Ventura, but it’s not what defines this dance crew. They’re brothers, brothers that may argue but have each other’s back regardless of the situation.

Harvey portrayed by first-time actor Duván Arizala is the family man. He has a wife and young child to provide for, unlike his companions he doesn’t have the luxury to pursue dance for the sheer job. The stakes are higher for him. If this contest doesn’t work out, he’s relegated back to a life of meaningless jobs, for him this contest is a risky venture.

Not having to face the same challenges his friends don't understand his unwillingness to jump at the chance to enter the contest; hence the road to the championship hits a few snags.

This movie is entertaining and introduces us to some new and much-needed talent. I enjoyed the dance sequences in this film. You see the strong influence of “Hip-Hop” from the dances move to the colloquialisms; however, the music has elements of Salsa, Cumbia, and Chambeta to name a few.

It was smart casting on Navas to find dancers that can act. This way the dance sequence shots are authentic and vibrant.

There are many twists and turns to "Somos Calentura" sometimes the situation seems hopeless, but these young men are determined to overcome the odds. That's what has you rooting for them.

The take away from this film is that this community is more than the stereotypical elements blasted on the news. It's a community rich in culture and good people. It's time that we start focusing on the people and "Somos Calentura" does that.

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Bring Me An Avocado

by Kathia Woods

You fall head over heels in love; you get married to the love of your life, you have children and think nothing can disturb it. These are some of the themes examined in director Maria Mealla’s latest movie "Bring Me an Avocado."

The couple in love are George and Robin. They are that it couple that still adore each other, you know, the people that annoy you for the PDA, but one secretly envies.

It's Robin’s birthday and being the awesome husband that George is, he plans a surprise birthday party for Robin.

Everything is on track until the unthinkable happens: Robin becomes injured which puts her in coma.

The aftermath is a father trying to hold it all together but dying slowly on the inside. He wants to be strong, however he's failing miserably. His sister-in-law Greece with whom he has a troubled relationship, and Robin’s best friend Jada step in to bring structure to George and Robin’s two girls.

The bulk of the movie focuses on George. You are rooting for him to come out of his fog. You want him to get it together while at the same time feeling sorry for him.

George and Robin are portrayed beautifully by Bernardo Peña and Sarah Burkhalter.

Bernado Peña gives us plenty of range; he shows us that it's difficult for men to deal with emotional turmoil. You want him to ask for help, but he doesn't know how. He's a fixer.

The one downside of this movie is that we don't see how losing their mother affects the daughters. You have small moments of sadness, but that's all you get. Also, the viewer doesn't get any background on why Greece, George’s sister in law and George have conflict. Their exchanges are sarcastic; however, at times, it seemed something deeper was going on. Did she not approve of George for her sister? Does he deem her irresponsible ? These are questions that I had while watching them interact.

The transition from Robin being in a coma to awakening seemed rushed. Robin herself didn't seem to have questions about what had occurred to her.

Despite the above issues, this is still an entertaining movie. You want this family to reconnect; you want there to be a happy ending, even if the characters don't address all their issues. The takeaway is don't take your loved ones for granted and make the most of second chances.

Scale: I give this movie a 7 due to Bernado Peña performance. It’s nice to see men receive a part that requires them to show emotional rage.

Diversity: The director is Latina as well as the lead. There is also an African American co-star.

 

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Hearth

by Kathia Woods

Many are using their homes to earn an additional income via rental services such as Airbnb or home swap however we never think about all things that can occur during that rental. “Hearth” delves into that darker side. On the surface we have a couple enjoying a romantic getaway but soon we discover all is not what it seems.

“Hearth” may be a short film, but it packs a lot of suspense into its ten minutes. I love how it utilizes the exchange between the owner and the renters how the dialogue is normal amidst all the abnormality.

This film creates suspense and terror through subtle dialogue and effective lighting. The music is also very well utilized reminiscent of French Film Noirs. Hearth stars Academy Award Winner Marianne Farley as one half of the romantic couple. Her presence in this film is a great endorsement for Sophie B. Jacques as a director.

Don’t let the fact that movie is in French deter you from watching. I really enjoyed it and wanted it to continue and I am looking forward to more movies from Sophie B. Jacques. Also it may have you take extra precautions the next time you rent a home away from home.

 

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Shazam

by Kathia Woods

In recent years there have been some questionable moves made over at Warner Brothers more specifically DC.

We shook our head at the announcement of Ben Affleck as Batman and the thought given to a revival of Green Lantern. It seemed things were so bad at DC that one wondered if it was even accurate to compare them to Marvel.

In comes Wonder Woman followed up by Aquaman and now we have Shazam.

Shazam is the Superhero we never knew we needed. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.

Here are some of the reason why. I absolute loved this cast. Zachary Levi is amazing as Captain Marvel. He strikes a great balance between adult and teenager. His discovery of his talents is hilarious especially his attempts at flight. Asher Angel as Billy Batson makes you root for him. His drive to find his biological mother makes us the viewer hope that their will be a happy ending. The foster kids may be my favorites out of all the cast. Faithe Herman as Darla is pure joy, Ian Chen as Eugene Choi the techie, and Jovan Armand as Pedro Pena the quite one are more than supporting players. They are the Cheer squad as well as Billy’s conscious.

The one character I wished they would have us given us more context on was Freddy Freeman as Jack Dylan Grazer. His disability was never really addressed. They missed an opportunity to educate with humor how it is navigating the world as a disabled isn’t always fun especially in high school.

Is this movie perfect, no but what is does do is entertain us? It shows us that even Super heroes struggle and must be taught to do the right thing.

This direction that DC is taking with focusing on secondary characters and humor is working. So take your time finding a new Batman and Superman. We are doing just fine with Shazam. Keep giving us laughter because we could use the break from the bad brooding.

Diversity- this movie gets a six we an Asian, Latino and African-American Character.

Scale- eight for sheer fun.

 

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Little

by Kathia Woods

Think big meets Freaky Friday but with black female leads and you have Little. The new Will Packer comedy stars Marsai Martin, Issa Rae and Regina Hall. Marsai is not only starring in Little but serves as an executive producer making her the youngest at 14.

The premise is not a new one with Hall portraying Jordan Sanders a Tech Executive that takes no prisoner. Issa Rae is April Williams, her assistant. If you ever have had an unreasonable boss, you will relate to Rae’s Character. We get to see her not only be funny but vulnerable. Marsai has delighted us for years as Diane on Blackish is equally charming as the young Jordan.

Is this movie bringing something new to the table? No; however, what is essential to mention that other than Packer everyone involved in this movie is black and a woman? Tina Gordon directing her second movie, and Tracy Oliver helmed the script fresh of her success with Girls Trip. That is the new portion of this scenario — black women creating art for Black women.

The movie may not be a new idea, but it is entertaining and funny. It’s the perfect mother and daughter date or family outing amongst competitive offerings of superheroes and fright night.

Packer’s movie at times can be stale and repetitive, but this works because of the talent associated. If you’re looking for a cinematic masterpiece this is not your cup of tea; however, “Little” doesn’t present itself as that but just pure escapism at that it succeeds masterfully. Most importantly it reminds us that childhood isn’t always carefree and to remember you are not defined by how popular you are in middle school. So grab your favorite little people and go see “Little.” I promise you it’s going to be fun.

Diversity: This movie receives a ten. Black women magic is all over this movie.

Scale: This movie receives an eight for sheer fun.

 

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Amazing Grace

by Kathia Woods

This reviewer may be one of the biggest Aretha Franklin fans ever. It is unquestionable also that Franklin was the most important Female Artist of the 60’s going into the 70’’s. So naturally when it was announced that they would finally be releasing the concert film of “ Amazing Grace” I was beyond excited. “Amazing Grace" documents the recording of her multi platinum album of the same name. It’s not a secret that Aretha Franklin came from Gospel. It was the basis for everything she did. "Amazing Grace" to this day stands as the bestselling gospel album of all time and her bestselling album.

Director Sidney Pollack was hired to document this recording. This film at times seems unfinished or one big revival but that’s not why you should buy a a ticket. You’re watching sheer talent at hand — raw, unadulterated talent given by God. Aretha in her element joined by the California Community Choir and The Reverend James Cleveland provide the audience a spiritual elevation. This movie isn’t about cinematic perfection; it's about touching your soul. Some of my favorite moments are her rendition of “Mary Won’t You Weep” and her mash-up of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand, and You’ve Got Friend” made famous by James Taylor. Only Aretha could turn a secular song and incorporate it into a gospel hymn.

Aretha like most artists of her caliber was a perfectionist and didn’t want the movie to be released while she was alive, but I’m glad that her family differed in her view. There is a whole generation that never got to experience this Aretha and now they can.

You will get a chance to see her Father the Reverend C.L Franklin and the tight bond they shared. There are also other celebrities in the building such as Clara Ward, and if you pay close attention, an enthusiastic Mick Jagger is sitting in the back.

This movie is a reverence to a time when black America was no longer defining itself by white standards but firmly standing in its blackness. Aretha was our queen and the church our foundation. She was our refuge our joy our Amazing Grace. All hail the Queen.

Diversity: This movie gets a ten. It doesn’t get any blacker than Aretha and gospel music.

Scale: I highly recommend this movie not because Aretha was my favorite singer but because we could use a little spiritual revival during these dark times. A rousing 8 and Amen.

 

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Avengers: Endgame

by Kathia Woods

We have had a ten-year relationship with the MCU. It started with IRON MAN, moved on to Captain America, inserted young Spider-Man and even gave us royalty in Black Panther. So here we are ten years later ready to sit another three hours with our favorite superheroes. After speculating and scouring the internet for the clues the day has finally come. Avengers Endgame is here.

The question is, was it worth it? A resounding yes. This movie was thoughtful, and action-packed at the same time.

It opens with our remaining Avengers trying to resolute what just happened. One would think that the Russo Brothers would give us a movie filled with Sadness and Revenge, but that’s not the case here. Thor still gives us strength and humor. Cap gives us optimism and Tony aka Iron Man finally figures out what’s important to him. Dr. Banner/Hulk is still a mystery however Black Widow gives us a little vulnerability.

Where does Captain Marvel fit, and will they ever find the other Avengers all those questions get answered?

Some things to be aware of, the first half of the movie takes a slower pace. It allows the surviving Avengers to grieve. Also, the reintroduction of Ant-Man and Arrow are handled smoothly.

This movie is an emotional rollercoaster at times. This movie is for us die-hard Marvel fans. The ones that grew up reading the comic books and binged watched all the other films in the MCU getting ready for this,

We’re going to say goodbye to some favorites but not before we are treated to epic battles and friendships are mended.

Avengers, Endgame is everything we want from Marvel and more. One last Cameo from Stan Lee and one last time our Avengers face down evil. The three hours are going to fly by and leave us a little sad, but Endgame gives us a fitting ending.

Scale: I give this movie a nine. Good things do come to those that wait.

Diversity: It gets 8.5 superheroes do all come in different shapes and color.