MMT November 2015 Netflix Picks

Happy Saturday MMT Fam! I know it’s the end of the month, but it’s two days left – so you can still consider these November picks! 🙂

My first pick – the Array release Mississippi Damned – is a powerful example of great story-telling – although I will admit it was a bit heavy for me during the first viewing (trigger warning for anyone who’s experienced any sexual or domestic violence).

The 2009 début film – based on the life of writer/director Tina Mabry – follows three sisters and their children through various courses of poverty, heartbreak, betrayal, addiction and abuse. Yet it depicts hope and opportunity via a character named Kari – portrayed beautifully by Tessa Thompson (Creed, Selma, Dear White People).

The performances in this film are amazing, and I dare you to watch it without tearing or becoming angry at least once. I had to watch it twice, because it was so much happening I thought I’d missed something the first time – yes I went through various emotions, it was that deep. But I loved that it ended with a note of hope, and could appreciate the story it took to get there.

My second Netflix selection is an absolute fave – Night Catches Us – starring Anthony Mackie (Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Hurt Locker) and Kerry Washington (Scandal, Peeples, Django Unchained). Brilliantly shot in my hometown of Philly, this 2010 début film  – by writer/director Tanya Hamilton – tells the story of  ex-Black Panther Marcus (Mackie)  who returns to Philadelphia for his father’s funeral. Marcus knows it’s not going to be an easy visit as many people still hold him responsible for the death of a Panther leader right before he left town. While trying to convince everyone he’s not, Marcus reignites his relationship with Patricia (Washington) – who happens to be the widow of the slain leader.

Anthony Mackie in this role “gives me life.”  I think I fell in love with a fictional character watching this film! And I know it’s apparent, but yes I do love shouting out my hometown! However, it’s far from bias with this movie, because the cinematography is gorgeous and the storytelling is highly exceptional.

One more thing: the soundtrack was done by homegrown music legends “The Roots” – with Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter multi-tasking by portraying Marcus’ brother Bostic as well.

My last pick today is a movie I gave a great review to last year –  and still enjoyed when I watched the second time around – Beyond The Lights. Writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood created a gem with this one, and it “burns me up” to think about how under-appreciated this drama/love story is. Here’s a link to my full review of the film, and I’ve added the original trailer below, but I encourage you to add this one to your Netflix list if you haven’t seen it!

Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle), Nate Parker (Red Tails, The Great Debaters), Minnie Driver (The Red Tent, Ella Enchanted, Good Will Hunting), and Danny Glover (LUV, Mooz-lum, The Color Purple)  star – and that’s all I would need to hear to get me to watch – but if that doesn’t grab you, know that Mbatha-Raw’s performance as a pop-star battling depression and familial struggle is outstanding. And does Nate Parker do any wrong? I haven’t seen it!

Alright family you know the drill, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts if you’ve seen any of these films – or plan on taking my recommendations. I enjoy getting your feedback!

Until next thought, Thomasena










MMT Quick Review: ‘Beyond The Lights’

Beyond The Lights (photo: Relativity Media)

Happy Friday MMT Family!  I hope that some of you are already out tonight at the theaters in support of Gina Prince Bythewood’s latest gem Beyond The Lights.  Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker and Minnie Driver, Beyond The Lights is a film with abundant layers, so much so that I dare not simply label it a “love story.”

The film depicts the story of a fictional singer Noni (Mbatha-Raw) who’s dealing with the pressures of fame and – through a desperate, life-threatening act – begins a journey towards self-awareness and true self-acceptance. Accompanying her is Kaz (Parker) a police officer with a bright future in politics ahead of him – who also has to accept some truths about his own journey.

Now if you’ve seen any of the trailers, it’s easy to surmise that Noni’s “mom-ager” Macy, a role delivered skillfully by Minnie Driver, plays a huge part in the pressures experienced by the her daughter. However, the layers of this film!  You know I won’t spoil, but I will say that Mrs. Bythewood is a master at drawing you into each character’s experience and coupled with Driver’s performance – the audience does come to relate a bit more to Macy’s choices and actions towards her daughter.

Okay, so many of you are going to hear from your less emotive friends that they don’t want to see a so-called “chick flick” or something similar.  I urge you to share with them this beautiful comment from a woman, named Stephanie, posted on the film’s Facebook page:

“Saw this in Denver on Wednesday, with my teen son. Exceptionally well-crafted, tastefully shot, great story, and excellent soundtrack. Teen boy said “Kind of a chick flick, but not too much…I liked it!” And we talked about it for an hour after! Not a film I would have prioritized attending, based on title/poster/IMDB – but definitely a “don’t miss” – it’s hard to find a PG-13 with substance!”

Another highlight for me?  The legendary Danny Glover, who plays Kaz’s father Captain Nicol.  Y’all know I love Mr. Glover and would watch him recite phone book entries – I’m not even kidding! 🙂  But seriously, with a standout cast, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s dynamic turn as a pop star – doing some of her own singing,  including an a capella version of  Nina Simone’s “Blackbird” – this is not a film to miss in theaters.  And to my fellow “emotives,” don’t fret. This movie will tear you down at some parts, but don’t worry – you’ll rejoice in the end.

Check out the trailer below and come back and leave a thought or two in the comments section when you see the movie. And all of my giveaway winners, you’re not off the hook! Leave some comments too. 🙂

Until next thought family, Thomasena



GIVEAWAY: ‘Beyond The Lights’ advanced screening TONIGHT! (Phila, PA)

Beyond The Lights (photo: Relativity Media)

Happy Veterans Day MMT Family!  Many of you will attend the BEYOND THE LIGHTS screening tomorrow in Center City, but several lucky MMT subscribers will be able to see an advanced screening tonight!  We’ve partnered with Allied-THA to give away 20 admit-two passes to tonight’s screening at the Pearl Theatre at Avenue North, 1600 N. Broad Street, at 7 p.m.  This is a popular one, so you have to be quick!

To put your name in the hat: 1) you must be a follower of this site and 2) send an email to with the subject line BEYOND THE LIGHTS and your full name in the body.  I will select winners and send instructions via email.

To all of the veterans and those serving I salute you.  And for those blessed to have the day off, enjoy!

Until next thought family, Thomasena


GIVEAWAY: advance screening for BEYOND THE LIGHTS November 12 (Phila, PA)

Beyond The Lights (photo: Relativity Media)

What’s new MMT Family?  As promised, I’m putting up the advanced screening link for the upcoming Relativity Media film BEYOND THE LIGHTS starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker.  If you liked “Love & Basketball” you’re going to want to see this one, also by writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood.

For your chance at an admit-two pass, click here and follow the “Get My Passes” prompt.  All passes and screening seating are not guaranteed and are on a first come-first served basis.

You can read the below synopsis and watch the trailer, and get additional information at the film’s official Facebook page here.

Until next thought family, Thomasena


BEYOND THE LIGHTS is the story of Noni Jean, a hot new award-winning artist who is primed for superstardom.  But not all is what it seems, and the pressures cause Noni to nearly fall apart – until she meets Kaz Nicol, a promising young cop and aspiring politician who’s been assigned to her detail.  Drawn to each other, Noni and Kaz fall fast and hard, despite the protests of those around them to put their career ambitions ahead of their romance.  But can Kaz’s love give Noni the courage to find her own voice and break free to become the artist she was meant to be?

Release:                               November 14, 2014

Writer:                                  Gina Prince-Bythewood

Director:                               Gina Prince-Bythewood

Cast:                                      Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker, Minnie Driver, Colson “MGK” Baker and Danny Glover

Rating:                                 PG-13

MMT Pick of the Week: ’23 Blast’

23 Blast (photo: Ocean Avenue Entertainment)

Happy Wednesday MMT Family!  Well, I am still woman down with this latest MS episode and haven’t been able to get to many of the movies I’ve wanted to see recently.  I did manage to see Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “Beyond The Lights” last night. Can you believe the screening was near my home? God  really worked that one in my favor!  And by the way, here’s me looking out for you – the MMT giveaway for an advanced screening of “Beyond The Lights” will post tomorrow, so be ready!  Anyway, another film that I am really excited to see is Ocean Avenue Entertainment’s 23 Blast, which depicts the true story of blind football player Travis Freeman (see below synopsis).

23 Blast opened on October 24 across the United States, and from what I’ve read it has garnered enthusiastic reactions from moviegoers. The 2013 Heartland Film Festival Audience Choice Award Winner is this week’s pick because of its feel-good, inspirational, and family themes. Don’t believe me, just check out the below trailer. And for my fellow The Guiding Light fans – shout out to my friend and fellow writer LeAnne Lindsay of Tinsel & Tine – Reva Shayne Lewis aka Kim Zimmer stars as Mary Freeman, Travis’ mom! 😉

For more information about 23 Blast and theater listings visit: For my local MMT followers, 23 Blast is playing at AMC Franklin Mills, Plymouth Meeting, Neshaminy, Cherry Hill (Loews), AMC 309, Regal Warrington, Burlington and Regal Oaks Stadium.

Alright family, don’t forget about the next giveaway and leave a comment for me if you go to see 23 Blast!

Until next thought, Thomasena

23 Blast synopsis

23 Blast is based on the amazingly true story of Travis Freeman. A typical teenager growing up in a small town in Kentucky, Travis is a local hero on and off the field. In the fall of 1997, in the prime of his youth, he is unexpectedly stricken with an infection that destroys his optic nerve. He becomes blind overnight. Under the influence of parents who love him, a physical therapist who challenges him, a coach who inspires him, and a best friend who he cannot bear to leave behind, Travis shows us what true bravery is by competing on the gridiron, helping his team advance to the State playoffs. We follow Travis and Jerry Baker, his closest friend, from the time they meet on the football field as kids through high school. Jerry’s attraction to the dark side of teenage temptations, beer and drugs, threatens to pull the friends apart. It is only on the football field where they truly connect.