MMT Recommends: #FirstTimeISawMe Netflix campaign

I’m a little late to the party, but was so moved with this #FirstTimeISawMe campaign by Netflix that I feel inspired to share my thoughts. When I think back on representation in television and when I first saw images of myself, I was amazed at my reflections. Although I saw persons of color represented during the 70’s and 80’s, most remarkably for me were shows like “Good Times,” “The Jeffersons” and “The Cosby Show,” it wasn’t until the 90’s that I felt like I saw actual representatives of people I knew on TV.

I fell in love with the Charles Dutton led “ROC,” and I scheduled evening classes (i.e. I skipped out on the last hour of class every Thursday night!) around Fox’s old Thursday night lineup of “Martin” and “New York Undercover,” because it included “Living Single” – a series that featured four African-American women navigating life and friendship, to which I could certainly relate.

And after the template was laid in “Living Single” came one of my all-time favorite sitcoms “Girlfriends.” Ooh and the oh, so missed Showtime drama “Soul Food.” Those shows displayed reflections of, not only myself, but people around me. I could empathize with their struggles, because I knew, or knew of, them.

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay shares a similar thought about identifying with characters later in life here:

 

MMT Fam, do you remember the first time you saw yourself on-screen? Do you identify with any character on TV today?

We all know that seeing people who look like you and deal with similar life experiences is powerful, because you inevitably believe you can achieve anything once you’ve seen someone else do it first. Just listen to what MMT fave Marlon Wayans has to say about watching his older siblings:

 

So, shout out to Netflix for all of the shows added to its platform where people are seeing representations of themselves and beautiful representations of others as well. Personally, I’m loving shows like “Luke Cage” and “Daredevil” and enjoy adding movies and shows, where I’ve enjoyed seeing representation, in my queue – like “Mississippi Damned,” “Being Mary Jane,” and “Greenleaf.” Maybe Netflix will work on adding Soul Food the series, Girlfriends and Living Single? Just asking for a friend…lies, you know it’s for me!

And MMT Fam you can check out some of the past reviews of our Netflix Picks, and get some good recommendations for those queues by clicking here.

Until next thought family, Thomasena

 

 

 

“Weak”end of Netflix an MMT review of Iron Fist by contributor Darryl King

We have been spoiled! Over the past two years, bequeathed unto us by Marvel, has been some of the best binge worthy television. Spending a few days, or dedicating a weekend, to engulf shows like “Daredevil”, “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage” was a pleasure until…”Iron Fist.” Because of their incredible track record, I hunkered down and digested it and let’s just say it doesn’t measure up.

“Iron Fist,” or Danny Rand is the latest Marvel Netflix hero, the son of rich parents who die in a plane accident. Danny survives the crash and is saved by mystical monks who raise him in the magical city of K’un-Lun, a city protected by the Iron Fist.

The Iron Fist is chosen by winning a battle with a dragon, then endowed with the dragon’s power, and when the anointed one harnesses their ‘Chi’ that incredible power becomes a great weapon. Sounds cool, right?

So, where does this show go wrong? The problem starts with the show runner/producer. Unlike other Marvel Netflix series, Scott Buck presents a very lackluster and often boring series and mythos. Other Marvel show runners have shown the dexterity to adapt and change the original comic content and deliver a better and watchable product.

For example, one of the beautiful aspects of Marvel’s Netflix world is the characterization of New York. Fortified with vibrant colors and distinct locations, these shows have provided a lovely depiction of the Big Apple, but “Iron Fist” sorely lacks in this area. Add in the fact that we don’t visually visit the magical city of K’un-Lun, and the show suffers greatly and misses an opportunity at world building.

Martial Arts should have been the saving grace for this show but the choreography and stunt work at most times was abysmal and uninspiring…Daredevil was so much better. “Iron Fist” even botched the infamous hallway fight scene that has become the signature of Marvel Netflix shows. The cheesy music soundtrack during these fight scenes further hinders and shackles the action.

Speaking of sound, there were too many times when the sound mixing was uneven and particularly weak for a television show, at times the outdoor scenes sounded like they were recorded in a room.

The direction of the episodes was less than stellar, very slow paced with poor visual conception and amateurish editing – making an hour program feel longer. But ultimately, “Iron Fist” is derailed by average dialogue and a lead character who doesn’t capture your imagination and whom you never believe is Iron Fist.

Finn Jones who plays Iron Fist, portrays his character as a whining brat who never grows beyond his circumstances. I haven’t seen anyone this whiny since Hayden Christensen played Anakin Skywalker.

Overall, the show spends too much time on board room business intrigue – only without the intrigue. Danny Rand shares too much screen time with his childhood friends/partners/nemesis, the Meachum family, often spotlighting them as the main story.

The first 5 episodes could have been compacted into one or two episodes and the show doesn’t become binge worthy until the last 4 episodes.

What works for the “Iron Fist” series are the opening title sequence and some of its secondary characters. Rosario Dawson reprises her role as Claire Temple, who has become the glue of the Street Level series world, providing some much-needed heart and passion for this show. Wai Ching Ho (Madame Gao) continues her stellar portrayal of the Asian master/savant with mystical powers.

Clifton Davis plays a Board member of Rand Enterprises who adds some spice and gravitas to an otherwise stoic storyline. Colleen Wing, portrayed by Jessica Henwick, is a wonderful addition to the Marvel Netflix family with a character who is captivating and exciting and who has the greatest arc in the series.

What fans wanted was a show with great martial arts and the “power” of the Iron Fist, and we weren’t given either. “Iron Fist” is more disappointing than bad and it almost derails the up and coming The Defenders series. So, after a long weekend of binging, I can’t defend “Iron Fist!”

Darryl King is a video director, film writer and avid Marvel/DC comic book/movie lover. Check out his reviews of Luke Cage, Dr. Strange and Captain America: Civil War right here on MMT.

MMT April 2016 Netflix Picks

This month I was inspired to share a few of my obsessions, that are conveniently up on Netflix presently – but we know that changes every so often, so hop on these while you can!

I was so happy to see my favorite basketball player of all time, Allen Iverson, recently named as an NBA Hall of Famer! Iverson brought so much to game, and was often not credited for the changes he made to the league. The documentary, IVERSON, is a really great look into the baller’s history and his heyday in the league – and it is told mostly in his own words. It’s pretty short, coming in at running time of 1 hour and 28 minutes, and is rated TV-14 – so it’s a good one to watch with the teens and to use as a lesson highlighter.

Now, I am always surprised when I ask people of this next pick, and they have yet to watch one episode! I’m referring to one of my favorite shows, JANE THE VIRGIN, which is currently in its second season on the CW. The show tells the story of Jane Villanueva, who made a childhood vow to her grandmother to remain celibate until marriage – but is erroneously impregnated by an obstetrician during what was supposed to be a routine GYN visit. Oh, and the sperm just so happened to be the OB/GYN’s (Luisa) brother, Rafael, whose fiancée Petra was supposed to be artificially inseminated on the same day! Sounds crazy, right?  But the premise lays the foundation for a hilarious series of events that involves Jane’s mother Xiomara, grandmother Alba, boyfriend Michael, and a host of colorful characters – including a mafia lord – and leading up to a really decent season cliffhanger. In short, it is a nighttime soap-opera fashioned comedy a’la “Ugly Betty.”

The show really has some mature themes, so it’s not for the youngins, and the first season is currently streaming in its entirety on Netflix – so if you also never watched, it’s a great way to catch up and then tune into season two on the CW! And if you need anymore convincing, Jane the Virgin won the People’s Choice Award for Best New TV show and its lead, the dynamic Gina Rodriguez, won a Golden Globe for her performance.

My last pick is the new Pee Wee Herman movie, PEE-WEE’S BIG HOLIDAY, because when the original film – Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure – was released in 1985, I not only saw it in the theaters twice, but watched it repeatedly on VHS when it came out (yes, I said VHS and stop trying to guess my age!). I still die laughing at Large Marge and the Tequila scenes (fellow fans certainly know what the hype is all about) and this new film brings back that silly humorous fun. It is also big kid-friendly – with a PG rating that I’d say was safe for ages 8 and up. And guess what? Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is also on Netflix, so make it a double-feature of good old-fashioned dumbness when you watch!

Alright family, that’s it for now. I think I’m about to go for my 5,110th viewing of Pee-Wee!

Until next thought, Thomasena

PS – open this in your browser to see the “Tequila” scene at the bottom, and another special blast from the past!

…and because we had no act right in the 80’s, and used any excuse to make up a new dance! Who remembers this?

MMT alternatives for those planning to NOT watch The Oscars and why I’m tuning in

Academy Awards Infographic

Happy Sunday MMT Fam! Unless you’ve been boycotting television, or living under a rock, you are aware of this year’s Academy Award controversy and its subsequent social media hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite. There are pretty much three camps with respect to viewing tonight’s ceremony – those who are (for various reasons), those who are boycotting it all-together, and those who couldn’t care less because they’ve never watched!

Any reasonable person, who can read the above infographic or count & name persons of color who’ve won any category since the inception of the Academy Awards, knows there is great merit in the cause of those who fall in the second category. And though I mostly agree with the cause, I don’t believe boycotting the Oscars will have greatest impact implementing diversity changes within Hollywood – I’ll save that full conversation for another post, but let’s just say it involves mostly film boycotts. Hey GODS OF EGYPT, how’s that first weekend box office coming along? 😉

Anyways, I’m in that first camp this year, and not for my normal reasons of wanting to see the red-carpet fashions and if any faves will take home the gold, especially on the chance that one of my favorite films and/or actors of color are nominated – which we definitely know isn’t the case tonight. I’m watching this year solely to see Chris Rock – who’s taking his second stint as the Academy Award host, his first sting being in 2005 back when Jamie Foxx won his Best Actor for RAY (and you know that was a very black year) – and what I believe will be one remarkable opening monologue. Not only am I looking forward to his monologue, but any biting critique he shares for the remainder of the show – honestly if I can hang in that long, but I am committed to signing in for the first part!

I’m hoping Rock does what he does best – which is highlight the elephant in the room in such a way that even though you’re uncomfortable you can’t help but acknowledge, accept or be shamed by what’s spoken. As a matter of fact, I’m looking forward to watching some uncomfortable reactions and seeing the camera pan on faces that may or may not reflect discomfort, agreement or pure agitation.

Why would I want to witness this, some of you are asking? It’s simple. Because I want truths spoken and tea spilled to further the uncomfortable conversations that need to take place. Let’s keep tackling and bringing awareness to this diversity issue – which is impacting every person of color, not just African-Americans, and subsequently everyone because we are not seeing accurate reflections of who we are in total.

Now for those of you who aren’t watching, I do have a few alternative recommendations of what you can view today. The first selection, #JusticeForFlint, is starting at 5pm est, so those who are watching the awards can join in for a bit as well, and is live streaming at Revolt.tv. A benefit fundraiser held by filmmakers, and a couple of MMT faves, Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler, #JusticeForFlint will be hosted by comedian Hannibal Buress and feature performances by Janelle Monae, Ledisi, Andra Day, Vic Mensa, Jazmine Sullivan, Musiq Soulchild, Robert Glasper, Jesse Williams, Jussie Smollett, Jasiri X, Vic Mensa, and more.

For those of you who stream Netflix, a service that is slaying the game in terms of diversity, why not catch up on a few films or TV shows, such as Beasts of No Nation (which was tragically overlooked by Academy voters this year) or any of the Netflix Picks that this site has highlighted since October of last year.

Don’t have Netflix? That’s cool. Go online to CRACKLE, which you can also stream to your TV, and find some great selections there – including a few of my faves including The Greatest, the 1977 film which stars the GOAT himself, Muhammad Ali, portraying – who else – himself! And if you’re into thrillers, I recommend Unthinkable, a 2014 edge-of-your-seat film starring Samuel Jackson and Carrie-Ann Moss, or you’re into action/martial arts, I recommend the Spike Lee directed remake Old Boy – but be warned the latter has an ending that really is “unthinkable!”

Looking for another free option? Then head on over to Bounce TV, whose line-up today includes the classics Waiting to Exhale and He Got Game!

And for those of you who are sitting TV out this evening, but may be interacting on social media, why not log into Twitter where African Amedia is hosting “The Sidneys,” so named after legendary actor Sidney Poitier with the hashtag #SidneysSoWoke, to pay tribute to your favorite actors, directors, and films in black cinema?

Well family, if nothing more, I hope this post offers food for thought, and inspires you to think about some of the diversity challenges that exist. And I hope it also shares viewing alternatives that you were not yet aware. Please feel free to share some thoughts in the comments and, as always, I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Until next thought, Thomasena

PS – check out Chris Rock’s opening monologue from 2005 below and get your life! He better slay tonight!