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! ūüôā

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 Рbased on the life of writer/director Tina Mabry Рfollows 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 Рportrayed 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 d√©but 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Quick Review of PEEPLES

Peeples opens Friday May 10th (Photo: Lionsgate)

Hello Music Movie family! ¬†Well it’s official, the success of Iron Man 3 last opening weekend has kicked in the door and ushered in the summer blockbuster season. ¬†And I must admit, it is a very good film and well worth the penny to view in theaters. ¬†But if you’re looking for a more comedic romp, or a fun date movie this weekend, I would highly recommend Tyler Perry presents PEEPLES, written and directed by Tina Gordon Chism (ATL,¬†Drumline) and starring Craig Robinson (The Office, Hot Tub Time Machine), Kerry Washington (Scandal, A Thousand Words), and David Alan Grier (In Living Color, The Woodsman).

Robinson stars as lead character Wade Walker, an “average Joe” who decides to surprise his girlfriend Grace (Washington) and propose during a holiday weekend in the Hamptons with her affluent family. ¬†Problems arise, mostly due to the tension that brews between Wade and his girlfriend’s father, played hilariously by David Alan Grier. ¬†I must admit when I first saw the trailer for this movie, I thought it was going to be “Jumping The Broom meets Meet The Parents.” ¬†The film, however, does stand on its own merit by bringing some new things, and laughs, to the table. ¬†There were a few moments of cheese, especially the Moby Dick Day scene (you know I won’t spoil!), but I really did enjoy most of the movie overall.

I also enjoyed the chemistry between and the variety of the film’s cast, including Wade’s brother Chris (played by the very funny Malcolm Barrett) and the divine S. Epahtha Merkerson as family matriarch Daphne Peeples rocked! ¬†Ms. Merkerson’s comedic timing was spot on, and she even belts out a tune. ¬†There were also great cameos by legendary, veteran actors Melvin Van Peebles and Diahann Carrol. ¬†And it was really cool to see former child star Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris, Let It Shine) as Grace’s younger, socially misfit brother Simon.

In short, I would give PEEPLES  a B- for great laughs, a fantastic cast, and an overall fun story. The movie opens today, May 10, nationwide.  You can get more information about the film and view the trailer at www.peeplesmovie.com.  Make sure to stop back by and share your thoughts if you go check it out!

Until next thought family, Thomasena

GIVEAWAY: screening passes for PEEPLES with Craig Robinson Q & A (Philly, PA)

Peeples opens Friday May 10th (Photo: Lionsgate)

Hey Family, I’ve got a great opp for you this time! ¬†Who’s been waiting for the new comedy PEEPLES¬†by writer/director Tina Gordon Chism? ¬†I enjoyed the trailer for this Tyler Perry presents production when I caught it in the theater, and am really excited to see it. ¬†I’m even more excited that MusicMoviesThoughts has acquired passes from Allied-THA for the Wednesday, May 1 screening. The best part about this giveaway? ¬†There will be a Q & A with star Craig Robinson following the screening.

For your chance to win an admit two pass, send your full name with the subject line PEEPLES to thinkmusicmovies@aol.com.  Blog followers will be given first preference, and chances are doubled if you also follow me on twitter @ledfarr.   All new blog subscribers will receive a confirmation email after they sign up (so make sure to click link and confirm!).  Winners will be notified by Sunday, April 28.

You can read the synopsis below and get additional information about the film at the official website www.peeplesmovie.com.  PEEPLES opens in theaters nationwide Friday, May 10.

Good luck everyone!

Thomasena

PEEPLES Synopsis

Sparks fly when Wade Walker (Craig Robinson) crashes the preppy Peeples annual reunion in the Hamptons to ask for their precious daughter Grace’s (Kerry Washington) hand in marriage. Wade might be a fish-out-of-water among this seemingly perfect East Coast clan, but he‚Äôs not about to let himself flounder. Instead, in a wild weekend of fun, dysfunction and hilarious surprises, Wade is about to discover there‚Äôs room for all kinds of Peeples in this family, no matter their differences. Writer and first-time director Tina Gordon Chism (writer of DRUMLINE) joins forces with Tyler Perry to present a laugh-out-loud look at the family ties that freak us out . . . but bind us together with love.

A Quick Review of Les Miserables and Django Unchained

Les_Miserables_Hathaway

Merry Christmas Music Movie Family! I pray that your holiday is filled with good people, good music, and great food! Are you headed to the movies today to see either of the major films opening that are being lauded, à la Les Miserables or Django Unchained? I screened both within the past month and would or would not recommend both based on your personal taste and/or preferences.

Let’s start with the musical Les Miserables. I mean, the production – stellar. The cast performances amazing, well except for Russell Crowe’s singing (sorry Russell, but you know it’s true). But all the hoopla about Anne Hathaway’s (Rachel Getting Married, The Dark Knight Rises) performance is the TRUTH. She was phenomenal as Fantine, a part she said her mother was understudy for during her performance days. And Hugh Jackman (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Real Steel) astounded as Jean Valjean, wait until you see how much weight he lost for the part! If you are not familiar with the musical, it is far from being a lighthearted Mary Poppins type of story, and is not a good choice for a younger audience (it is rated PG-13). So if you need to take the kiddies with you to the theater, Les Miserables is not the choice for you. You can read more about the story or watch the trailer at http://www.lesmiserablesfilm.com/.

Which brings me to Django. Now I must preface this review with I was on the “I won’t go see Django Unchained” team when I first heard about the film. But a screening opportunity presented itself, and I’d read so many controversial statements and articles about, that I became intrigued and decided to check it out. I also enjoyed the Tarantino vehicles Kill Bill (Vol. 1 and 2) and Reservoir Dogs, so I went to the film expecting to see a bunch of gore, especially with the content matter. And boy does Quentin Tarantino do gore. Needless to say, Django is not the family Christmas movie, unless your hanging with a bunch of adults or older teens (it has an R rating).

Django_Unchained_PosterIf you don’t know the premise, the movie is about a former slave named Django (Jamie Foxx; Ray, Any Given Sunday) who with the help of his bounty hunter mentor Schultz (Christoph Waltz; Inglourious Basterds, Carnage) attempts to rescue his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington; Ray, The Last King of Scotland). The duo finds out that Broomhilda is on a Mississippi plantation called Candyland, owned by a brutal master named Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio; The Departed, Inception), and formulate a shady plan to gain her freedom. Now if you can go into Django Unchained with the mindset that Tarantino is an overzealous fan of 60’s and 70’s spaghetti western and blaxploitation movies, and this is his super violent mash-up of the two, you might actually enjoy this film. I enjoyed parts of the story, mostly when the bad guys received their comeuppance, but the film began to lull midway, and I felt it was too long. My biggest problem with Django is slavery is too heavy a topic for me to view intertwined with fantasy. Even though Jamie Foxx described it on a recent award show as “Kunta Kinte gets his revenge,” I don’t buy it. There was nothing fantastic about slavery and, as original as it is, Django didn’t convince me a revenge story needed to be told in this fashion. You can get more info about or watch the trailer for Django Unchained at http://unchainedmovie.com/

If you’re looking for another film to see tomorrow, and don’t have to worry about the kids, check out The Impossible with Golden Globe nominated actress Kate Winslet, which is based on a true family’s survival of the 2004 tsunami tragedy. And if you have the kiddies, why not Monsters Inc., which was re-released in 3D? Whichever film you decide to see, stop back by and let me know your thoughts.

Merry Christmas family. Until next thought, Thomasena

In Under a Thousand – A Review of the New Murphy Film

First statement about A Thousand Words, if you’re looking for fast paced action Eddie √† la Beverly Hills Cop or slapstick gut busting Eddie √† la The Nutty Professor then proceed to the theaters with caution. ¬†But if you are looking for a surprisingly more mature Eddie, with enough of his old funny mixed into a fairytale with an underlying story about finding one’s way to forgiveness, then A Thousand Words is for you.

Since I’m an Eddie fan from back in his SNL days, part of me wanted a little more of the “rolling in the theater aisle” comedy, but I did get to the end of the film and felt I would pay to see it again (considering many people in the screening Wednesday night did come close to “rolling in the aisle” with laughter several times, and I missed some of the movie!). ¬†But I also came to a startling revelation while screening this movie. ¬†Simply put, Eddie is getting old! ¬†Not too old to have the beautiful Kerry Washington star opposite as his wife in this movie, of course, but old like he’s not the same comedian whose stand up performances had my mother’s hair graying prematurely when she learned I’d seen – multiple times :). ¬†He’s delivered the kid friendly gems like Dr. Doolittle,¬†Daddy Daycare, and the infamous Donkey character in the¬†Shrek¬†movies, survived past the box office bombs that were Meet Dave and Norbit¬†(the latter wasn’t that bad if you ask me), and has progressed to maturer comedies like last year’sTower Heist or this most recent romp. ¬†Now this film is rated PG-13 for adult language, suggestive sexual dialogue and some drug-related humor; although Eddie may want to note that the family movie Puss in Boots took the box office over Tower Heist last November during opening weekend, and maybe a few more family gems wouldn’t hurt ;).

Okay so back to the review of A Thousand Words. ¬†The premise: a fast talking literary agent tries to sign a devout spiritual guru to a book deal, lies one to many times, and gets a curse placed on him in which he has as many words left before he dies as a tree in his backyard has leaves. ¬†Oh, and the leaves fall as he uses his remaining words. ¬†Did I mention that Eddie’s character is a married man? ¬†With a son? ¬†And a job that involves convincing people? ¬†Yep, the setup makes for perfect joke material. ¬†If I had to grade the laugh barometer, however, I would give it a B-,¬†since sometimes I was in stitches and other times not as much, but the moral of this story is certainly A plus worthy. ¬†Biggest thrill for me: Ruby Dee also co-stars! ¬†I saw a couple of trailers before the film, most of which showed the hilarious John Witherspoon in his cameo as a blind pedestrian crossing the street beside a mum Eddie Murphy, but I had no idea the legendary Ruby Dee was also a part of this project. ¬†And do I need to say that she dominates her scenes?

This film also co-stars a very funny Emanuel Ragsdale, as Eddie’s assistant Tyler, and Cliff Curtis as the spiritual guru Dr. Sinja. ¬†It is also fairly short with a 91 minute running time, so it would make a good weekend matin√©e or is the perfect let’s see a quick flick after dinner choice if you’re looking for laughs and can suspend disbelief for an hour and a half.

Alright music movie lovers, that’s my weekend pick for film. ¬†Check back in if you go see it and leave a comment below with your thoughts. ¬†You can check out more of my movie picks for March/April in the previous post. ¬†Also, check out and vote in the poll below (What’s your favorite Eddie Murphy film?). ¬†Lastly, I want to give a shout out to my Reelblack movie family and to founder Mike D. for all the amazing work you guys do to promote “good movies ’bout Black folks!” ¬†For those in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, check out their website at¬†http://reelblack.com/wordpress/¬† (a yearly membership is only $30 and you get to screen great films at various local theaters). That’s really all, and yep in only 721 words! ¬†True to title ūüôā

Until next thought, Thomasena