Posts tagged movies
#UnpopularOpinion: We Should Be Excited for Dark Phoenix
Thumbnail by  Darius Gordon

Thumbnail by Darius Gordon

Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame is still setting box office records entering its second weekend in theaters, making a ridiculous $1.2 billion opening weekend, growing to more than $1.7 billion worldwide Thursday. The final film in the Infinity Saga is already the fifth-highest grossing film of all-time, and is almost a shoo-in to pass Avatar for the number one spot when it’s all said and done.

But while the culmination of the last eleven years of the MCU is still fresh on everyone’s minds, let’s address the elephant in the room: Dark Phoenix. The latest X-Men film from 20th Century Fox, is due in theaters June 7th, and is expected to be the final film released by Fox before it goes away and undergoes a reboot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

"It’ll be a while. It’s all just beginning and the five-year plan that we’ve been working on, we were working on before any of that was set. So really it’s much more, for us, less about specifics of when and where [the X-Men will appear] right now and more just the comfort factor and how nice it is that they’re home."

- Kevin Feige talking about the X-Men to io9 in April

Dark Phoenix just hasn’t gotten the hype it should have; people are disinterested for a number of reasons, the impending doom being one of them. But Fox has had its inconsistencies with their timelines, and has struggled with comic book accuracy. This is also Fox’s second attempt at the iconic Dark Phoenix saga, as first-time director and long-time X-Men producer Simon Kinberg tries to fix the mistakes of 2006’s clusterfuck, X-Men: The Last Stand.

Overall, despite Hugh Jackman’s brilliant portrayal of Wolverine/Logan, Fox has been pretty sloppy with the X-Men franchise. Fans are either excited about what could be the final incarnation of this 20-year long run for the franchise, or they just want it to be over already. No in-between. In spite of your apathy, here’s why this highly anticipated movie will be good and ultimately, why you should just go into this movie ready to enjoy it!


Every X-Men fan knows there's no one character that takes the spotlight, and the people at Fox clearly forgot that. However, I've always credited 2000's X-Men as being one of the movies to revitalize the comic-book movie genre. Long before the MCU, Fox went in a very grounded direction with the famous mutants, and it worked--until it didn't. Then Marvel shook the table and created comic book movies with large-scale continuity and a shared universe full of characters that were either grounded, god-like, alien, or all of the above.

From the most recent trailers of Dark Phoenix, it looks like we’re getting the drama this story deserves. We’re getting ACTING from the Phoenix, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), and as always from Professor Charles Xavier and Erik “Magneto” Lehnsherr (played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, respectively). The action in those trailers has looked incredible. Can we talk about Quicksilver and Nightcrawler? Or Storm unleashing her powers?! We didn’t get a lot of non-Wolverine action scenes in the last trilogy, and I'm excited to see what Dark Phoenix has to bring.

"I thought part of what happened in X-Men: The Last Stand is that instead of making it a Jean story, it became a story of the cure, which was really Charles and Erik and Wolverine’s story, and I really wanted this to be Jean’s story. She is the dominant character in this movie."

- Simon Kinberg when asked about Dark Phoenix's focus by EW

My only ask of you is that you simply try and enjoy this movie. Rather than being cynical and waiting until Marvel adds them into the MCU, think of Dark Phoenix as the bookend of a well-told story of the mutants we have come to love )and hate). Think of it as the end of McAvoy and Fassbender’s incredible renditions of Professor X and Magneto. Think of it as an eloquent end with the dramatic re-telling of one of Marvel’s greatest tales.

How are you feeling about Dark Phoenix? Let me know in the comments section below or follow me on Twitter: @EJtheG and be sure to read some of my other work here!

"There was no other way": Tony Stark's tale comes full circle in 'Avengers: Endgame' (SPOILER FILLED)
Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios

The wait for a cinematic event over a decade in the making has come to an end. Over the course of the year-long wait for Avengers: Endgame, there was much speculation about how the Infinity Saga would draw to a close. Fans everywhere, this one included, oscillated between the events that that could occur from the moment Thanos snapped his fingers and wiped out half of life in the universe, and the Avengers reversing the effects. But there was one constant outcome: Tony Stark had to sacrifice himself to do it.

You’re not the guy to make the sacrifice play, to lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you

From the moment he first donned the Iron Man suit Tony Stark has gone through various changes, but the heart of his character is still his motivation. He’d always been driven by guilt. He saw his life’s work developing weapons of war at Stark Industries and saw it merited nothing but destruction. In the face of that realization, he became a walking, talking deterrent. As new additions entered his life - his love Pepper Potts, Peter Parker - who was like a son to Tony - and countless others he cared for, his guilt continued to grow. When he felt he couldn’t do enough, he walked away, but even after initiating the Clean Slate Protocol in Iron Man 3 and destroying all his suits, he couldn’t shake what he knew was coming.

I wasn’t tricked, I was shown. It wasn’t a nightmare, it was my legacy

Tony’s legacy has been a running point of conversation since the MCU began, & it was never more important than in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The vision shown to him by Scarlet Witch gave him a look at the worst version of that legacy - one where The Avengers are dead, and Steve Rogers telling Tony he could have saved them. Tony, being the embodiment of noble arrogance, believed his inactions would destroy everything, clouding his judgment so badly that he stopped thinking about the repercussions of his actions. He wanted to leave behind a world that was safer because of him to calm the chaos that came at the hands of his weapons. He could never walk away.

I hope they remember you.

In the five years since Thanos’ snap, Tony settled down with Pepper and had a daughter, Morgan. He seemed to have moved on, accepted defeat & chose to embrace his second chance with his family. But he’s built new armor (Mark 85, the 85th Iron Man armor. The one in Infinity War is Mark 50), along with a surprise armored suit for Pepper. He can’t sleep when the Avengers inform them of their plan to retrieve the stones, so much he stays up all night figuring out how to make the “time heist” work. At the end of it all, he saw his chance to repair his legacy and restore the world he aimed to protect, and he needed to be there to see it through.

I am Iron Man

Part of me believed Tony’s sacrifice would come as a result of reversing Thanos’ snap, but I realized some time ago that’s not a sacrifice; that’s penance. Just as Thor decapitating Thanos was an empty gesture brought on by not killing him in Infinty War, Tony sacrificing himself for his failures might have changed how he was remembered, but not the person he was - the man who fought for himself. So when he learns from Doctor Strange that they’ve reached their desired outcome, he makes a choice: he charges at Thanos, rips the stones from the Mad Titan and snaps his fingers; not to erase the sins of his past or to ensure “peace in our time” for himself, but because it’s his job to save the world and its future, even if he isn’t there to see it.

The last words Tony uttered before expiring were the same he used to announce his arrival to the world, but this time, it wasn’t an act of self-aggrandizement. It was simply the truth to Thanos’ lie: he wasn’t inevitable, because Tony Stark is Iron Man.

Ball Don't Lie EP 46 - The Marathon Continues

Pierce and Scott remember the life of a West Coast legend, the late, great Nipsey Hussle. Then, Nitzan Bluvstein from the Count the Dings' Friday Mailbag & the Daily Ding and Ruthless Aggression's Chris Novak joins the pod to talk the Marvel Cinematic Universe and tell you to buy your fuckin Endgame tickets already.

And remember: Hussle & Motivate.

Follow Scott on Twitter: @BarbersChairNet
Follow Pierce on Twitter: @HennyOmega
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisMNovak
Follow Nitz on Twitter: @nitzbluv

Listen to the new bangers playlist on Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music!
Tidal: bit.ly/tidalbangers
Spotify: bit.ly/spotifybangers
Apple Music: bit.ly/applebangers

Rep THE MAN just in time for Wrestlemania with the brand new #FreeTheMan tees up now on the Barber's Chair Net merch shop
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or
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Nearly Canceled: Entourage drops January 2019 exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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Don't make the same mistake walking into Avengers: Endgame that you did with Infinity War

10 years after Jon Favreau’s Iron Man kickstarted what would become the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios’ most ambitious crossover, Avengers: Infinity War served as the culmination of a decade of world-building. It’s the crown jewel for comic book fans and those who embarked on the cinematic journey from the beginning (If you weren’t in tune with the MCU but went through the first 18 films prior to seeing Infinity War, welcome aboard! It’s good to have you!)

The critically-acclaimed film broke box office records, and became the talk of the summer on social media (today’s water cooler). But in accordance with the established, universal laws of enjoyment, there were some who didn’t obsess over the third Avengers film. I’m all for disliking things; healthy criticism promotes debate & it helps with the growth of any medium/artist, but it has to have merit. Which brings us to the most ridiculous condemnation of Infinity War…

“Why do I have to watch the other MCU movies to fully understand Infinity War?”

Let me start by being blunt… it’s a ridiculous question. You can’t complain when you chose to enter the saga 19 films in. Nobody said you had to be there from the beginning or spend every waking moment thinking about the universe, but to willingly ignore them before seeing Infinity War and using your lack of preparedness to complain is moronic. Keep crying about it. YOUR TEARS NOURISH ME!

I’m a firm believer that there’s an opposing reaction to everything. While I’m absolutely certain that a portion of those who subscribed to this asinine critique were actually ignorant enough to think they could drop in and be spoon fed everything, I also think there’s another reason this happened: people erroneously believed Infinity War was a direct sequel. It picks up in the timeline directly following Thor: Ragnarok and brings seeds that were planted as far back as 2012’s The Avengers. The plot centers around Thanos’ search for the six infinity stones, five of which have appeared in various MCU movies over the course of the last 10 years. Yes, sometimes sequels tend to contain quick re-introductions for all the base players but, again, INFINITY WAR IS NOT A SEQUEL; It is the 19th issue of an ongoing series.

The 18 that were released before it - a few stand-alone installments aside - were integral to the film’s completion. The MCU operates much like typical comic book crossover events that are set up by issues contained within individual character’s runs. There’s a list of specific titles that you can use to obtain enough surface level knowledge needed to understand Infinity War , but the full effect is only felt by having seen all of them. There is no logical reason to believe you’ll comprehend it if you’ve seen none of them, though. If you’re hell bent on considering a sequel, then the most honest way to do that is to believe it’s a sequel to every single film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that came before it. That holds infinitely more truth than it being a direct sequel to any one release.

Since I’m a humanitarian who genuinely believes in helping people and not because this entire “critique” has annoyed me far more than the narrative that Drake has classic album (editor’s note: Nothing Was the Same exists), I write this piece to all of you as an disclaimer. We are just months away from the release of Avengers: Endgame, which is intended to wrap up phase 3 of the MCU & close out important storylines 10 years in the making. It’s been rumored for a while now that there might be a time travel element to the film that will have our heroes revisiting previous incidents. If you haven’t AT LEAST watched the most vital entry’s in the MCU, then you’re gonna be even more lost walking out of Endgame. Please do not go see Captain Marvel and walk into Avengers because you think it’s the next one in line. I really don’t want to have this conversation again.

The Most Anticipated Movies of 2019

2018 brought some gems to the big screen, from box-office superhero smash hits like Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Aquaman, to critically-acclaimed films like A Star is Born, Annihilation and John Krasinski’s brilliant thriller A Quiet Place. 2019 brings even more buzz to the box office! Here’s the movies we’re looking forward to the most in the new year!

lets chat.gif

Glass

Release Date: January 18, 2019
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Sarah Paulson & Anya Taylor-Joy
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

M. Night Shyamalan had an amazing comeback with 2017's Split, complete with a twist ending that revealed the movie was actually connected to his 2000 supernatural drama, Unbreakable, picking up right where Split left off. James McAvoy shined in Split, and I'm excited to see him act alongside Samuel L. Jackson & Bruce Willis.

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

What Men Want

Release Date: February 8, 2019
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Aldis Hodge, Tracy Morgan, Erykah Badu, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Tamala Jones & Josh Brener
Director: Adam Shankman

Our first film of the year with a primarily black cast is a remake of the 2000 romantic comedy, What Women Want starring Mel Gibson. Taraji P. Henson stars as a successful sports agent struggling to navigate her career in a male-dominated field until she mysteriously gains the ability to read men’s minds. The plot is a bit cheesy and has been done before, but this will be a fun watch with Taraji's energy on-screen.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Us

Release Date: March 22, 2019
Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright-Joseph, Evan Alex, Elisabeth Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II & Tim Heidecker
Director: Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele's back at it again with an ambiguous psychological-horror film in this year's Us. This is Peele's second film after his directorial debut in 2017's Get Out, which won him his first Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Get Out was definitely one for the culture and Us will be too. The cast is what excites me the most. Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke reunite, this time outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, alongside my favorite Handmaid, Elisabeth Moss. Shout out to Yahya for snagging a role in this film after appearing in the billion-dollar blockbuster Aquaman

It wouldn't be a Jordan Peele movie without a trailer leaving much to the internet's imagination; there are even people linking the two movies together. Gotta love twitter, right?

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

Pet Sematary

Release Date: April 5, 2019
Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jeté Laurence, Hugo Lavoie, Lucas Lavoie & Obssa Ahmed
Director: Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer

Directors Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer brings us a reboot of the 1989 film based off the Stephen King novel of the same name with this year's Pet Sematary. The movie surrounds a family who lives near a pet cemetery that lies on an ancient burial ground, bringing its inhabitants back to life in creepy ways. When a child from the family dies and is buried in this spooky ground, he comes back for blood.

I'm really excited to see some quality scary movies this year, starting with this adaptation. 2018 gave us Stephen King's incredibly done Gerald's Game, which debuted on Netflix a month before 1922. Netflix is also coming with the heat with another Stephen King adaptation this year, In The Tall Grass

Marvel

Marvel

Avengers: Endgame

Release Date: April 26, 2019
Starring: Robert Downing Jr., Josh Brolin, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Chadwick Boseman & the rest of the damn Avengers
Director: Anthony & Joe Russo

Need I say more? We saw Earth's mightiest heroes get wrecked by Thanos, some even wiped away from existence with the other half of the universe's population in Avengers: Infinity War. Endgame will be the last time we see some of the characters we've come to love since the MCU debuted 10 years ago. I'm sure we'll still be left empty after some of our faves get killed...for good this time.

An interesting note here is the amount of money Disney is going to pull in this year. This is one of six Disney blockbusters coming out this year. I'm confident that EndgameAladdin, Toy Story 4, Frozen 2, Lion King will easily make a billion each. Disney’s really collecting checks like Infinity Stones in 2019, and I'm here for it.

Disney

Disney

Aladdin

Release Date: May 24, 2019
Starring: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzri & Navid Negahban
Director: Guy Ritchie

I am extremely excited to see one of my favorite Disney animated movies come to life in this live-action remake. Following the success of live-action versions of the animated classics like Cinderella and Jungle Book, Aladdin will be one for the books and a visually stunning movie to see.

I'm most excited to see what Will Smith will bring to the iconic role of the Genie. He's the perfect actor to bring a breath of fresh air to an already established role made famous by the late Robin Williams. Smith goes a little in-depth about the role in an Entertainment Weekly interview, and talks about recording the song "Friend Like Me" from the movie before he even knew he was accepting the role. Definitely expecting this to make it over the billion-dollar mark barring all positive reception.

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

Dark Phoenix

Release Date: June 7, 2019
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Sophie Turner, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters & Olivia Munn
Director: Simon Kinberg

If you know me, you will know I am a dedicated X-Men stan and will debate your granny about anything X-Men related. 20th Century Fox’s highly controversial re-doing of the iconic Dark Phoenix storyline follows Sophie Turner's Sansa Sta--I mean Jean Grey battling a dark force within her that she succumbs to and splits the X-Men.

Simon Kinberg, longtime producer of the X-Men franchise, will be in the director's seat for the first time, looking to right the wrongs of X-Men: The Last Stand that handled the Dark Phoenix saga so poorly. The Disney-Fox merger is expected to close in March, making Dark Phoenix the first X-Men film to release after the deal is completed. Some fans are happy that Fox will be done with the franchise and some are not. I for one am ready for another X-Men movie, and my hopes are high with Dark Phoenix.

Disney

Disney

Toy Story 4

Release Date: June 19, 2019
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Blake Clark, Wallace Shawn, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves, Estelle Harris & more!
Director: Josh Cooley

When I found out we were getting another Toy StoryI wasn't initially here for it. Toy Story 3 came out a little before I went to college and was the icing on top of my childhood. Why mess with a good thing?

After a brief teaser was released, seeing my favorite toys come to life again had me sold. The movie will follow Woody & the gang on an eye-opening road trip, showing the toys just how big the world is. Add another billion in Disney's pockets with this one.

Marvel

Marvel

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Release Date: July 5, 2019
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Samuel L. Jackson & Jake Gyllenhaal
Director: Jon Watts

The highly anticipated sequel to 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming seemingly takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Soooo spoiler, I guess Spidey makes it, huh?

The movie follows Peter Parker and his high school friends on a vacation to Europe where he meets and teams up with Mysterio, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, to battle the Elementals, four immortals with control over natural forces.

While I'm excited to see any role Gyllenhaal takes on, I'm a bit thrown off that his relationship starts off as an ally. My only guess as to why would be that it obviously ends up strained throughout the course of the movie, adding some depth to Mysterio's role and likely leading to his induction to the Sinister Six that the MCU seems to be delicately building. That would explain why Michael Keaton's Vulture is set to appear in the movie as well.

Disney

Disney

Lion King

Release Date: July 19, 2019
Starring: Donald Glover, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, John Oliver, Keegan-Michael Key, James Earl Jones, Alfre Woodard & John Kani 
Director: Jon Favreau

Much like Aladdin, Lion King is a live-action remake of the 1994 classic animated movie following the rise of young Simba to become the king of the jungle. This cast is unreal. I've already pre-pre-pre downloaded the highly-anticipated Donald Glover/Beyoncé duet of Can You Feel The Love Tonight. One thing's for sure, this is a Grammy and Academy Award-winning knock out that I can't wait to see. Add yet another billion to Disney's account with this one for sure.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures

IT: Chapter Two

Release Date: September 6, 2019
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, James McAvoy, Jay Ryan, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone & Andy Bean 
Director: Andy Muschietti

OK… maybe we do have some quality horror movies this year. It: Chapter Two will be a follow-up to 2017's reboot of the same name. This time we follow the adult version of The Losers Club, 27 years later when they return to their hometown to fight off Pennywise the Clown once and for all. We have an amazing older cast here to fill the big shoes of 2017's child-led cast. Additionally, the younger cast from 2017's It will return to reprise their roles as well.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures

Joker

Release Date: October 4, 2019
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen
Director: Todd Phillips

The Crown Prince of Crime is set to get his stand-alone origin film this year. I wasn’t sold on Joker until the first images of Joaquin Phoenix on-set came out. It's a very traditional/cynical take on The Joker from the looks of the photos. I'm not a fan of comparing actors who play the same characters, but Phoenix's rendition looks closer to Heath Ledger's take on the character. Random fact, but Joaquin Phoenix was almost Doctor Strange in the MCU.

Honorable Mentions

Shazam is here solely due to Aquaman's breakout success. There's also a Charlie's Angels reboot starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Elizabeth Banks, Patrick Stewart and Djimon Hounsou which has peaked my interest. Captain Marvel has generated quite the buzz as she's looked at as the end-all be-all against Thanos. Of course, the big release to end the year will be Star Wars Episode IX.

Comment or tweet me what movies you're excited for this year and check out more of my work here!

AQUAMAN: A Sign of DC’s Future
Image courtesy of Popsugar

Image courtesy of Popsugar

When Warner Bros. and DC Comics announced Man of Steel it not only signaled another reboot for DC’s biggest superhero, but a restart on the entire universe. Emulating the cultural phenomenon Disney and Marvel has accomplished with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Warner Bros. sought to create their own crude, microwavable shared universe, putting faith in its two biggest names: Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne.

But after two lukewarm entries (the Zach Snyder-directed MOS and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice) and a critical failure in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, the DC Extended Universe came out of the gates on shaky legs. Despite the success of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, by the time Justice League arrived, the glow of Zack Snyder’s charm had worn off, replaced with a altered and overt Joss Whedon script, essentially marking the end of Snyder’s creative involvement over DC’s projects.

Just over five years after MOS debuted with lofty goals strapped on its back, the sixth installment in the DCEU - the James Wan-directed Aquaman - may have finally lit the flame on the rocket DC hoped to fire half a decade ago.

Aquaman may not be a great film, but it’s delightfullly-average, elevated by a fun script, truly spectacular visuals & an adrenaline-pumping third act. The film does suffer from cringe-worthy dialogue, a bloated run time and some plot points that at times feel convoluted, and at others feel so simple many of its key moments are telegraphed. It may not be better than Wonder Woman, but it’s a step in the right direction for the DCEU.

Aquaman may lay claim to a more important attribute: succeeding where the past failed while finding a way to stand on its own. As one of two films (along with SS) bearing no link to Snyder, it carried the distinct vision of its creative team (even WW’s aesthetic closely resembled MOS and BVS). Where Snyder’s films opted for half-baked, philosophical ruminations with the seriousness of a barium enema, James Wan went for an old-school, Sword-in-the-Stone tale of kings and heroes, approached with the light-hearted touch you need from Atlantis. Wan embraced the outlandish subject matter; instead of grounding it in gritty realism, he used what was at his disposal to take you to the furthest depths of the ocean. Ignoring the DCEU became Aquaman’s biggest strength.

The DCEU was in jeopardy just a year ago, with personnel and studio changes abound, but Aquaman has been the pivot DC desperately needs. It may not be one of the best movies of the last year, and it’s still unknown whether the universe will be scrapped completely or not, but Aquaman is a serviceable restart. After being lost in a mire for years, it’s more than DC could’ve hoped for.

Random Acts of Podcast EP 200: Live from Miami

On the 200th episode of RAOP, Amp and Devin take the show on the road for the first time in front of a live audience at FilmGate Miami. We chat about why are fine women so annoying, why Space Jam was garage and other questions from the audience, who also share why they love RAOP, plus a whole lot more!

Thanks once again to everyone that came out to our live show; it meant a ton to us. And thanks to all the supporters that weren't there who held us down. WE LOVE YOU ALL!

For The Culture reviews: Coming to America

Welcome friends to another lit addition to our series, For The Culture Reviews. This week we'll be revisiting another timeless black movie, Coming to America! Much like the Paid in Full review, we'll be going over a classic to see just how well it holds up and offer a chance for movie fans to talk about something for us and by us. Let's chat.

SNL

SNL

Coming to America made its debut June 29, 1988. It was one of the only black feature films that year. The odds weren't in Coming to America's favor with the likes of BeetlejuiceDie HardThe BlobHairspray and a third Rambo all being released in the same year, but the movie held its own in a sea of white movies! The film went on to be the 3rd highest grossing movie of 1988 behind Rain Man and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, respectively. This being Eddie Murphy's seventh feature film and first go at writing, it solidified his role as a great comedian-turned-actor and established a staple in his career of playing multiple roles in one movie.

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

The story follows Prince of Zamunda, Akeem (Eddie Murphy), who just turned 21 and has never even tied his own shoes. It is Zamundan tradition for the king to be to meet his arranged bride-to-be for the first time on his 21st birthday. Akeem is reluctant to marry a woman who isn't independent and doesn't truly love him for who he is rather than what he is, but his parents King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) and Queen Aeoleon (Madge Sinclair) reassure him that this is tradition and he'll soon come to love his bride just as his parents did. Akeem ain't feeling it. After meeting the supposed bride Imani Izzi (Vanessa Bell), Akeem realizes that she is nothing more than a glorified servant who, since birth, has been trained to please and serve the king. This prompts Akeem and his friend Semmi (Arsenio Hall) to go to America of all places and look for a queen. And where do they end up? Well New York City, of course (although one could argue a true queen exists on the South side of Chicago, but that's another argument.)

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

Once in Queens, Akeem insists on finding the poorest/cheapest/dirtiest apartment he could find (a lot of options in NYC) so that he can experience the life of a regular guy. The two stop into a barbershop just below their apartment and we're introduced to the owner Clarence (Murphy), white Jewish man Saul (also played by Murphy), Morris (Hall) and Sweets (Clint Smith). Little known fact: the guy in the barber's chair getting his haircut was none other than Cuba Gooding Jr. in his first feature film debut. The pair finds themselves in a New York club and the women were just all bad. We get some hilarious give and take between Murphy and Hall and even see Hall dressed as a woman pursuing Akeem in the club; it was gold. After an unsuccessful night out, the locals in the barbershop suggest that they attend a Black awareness rally that's raising money for inner city youths. It's here that we meet the love interest Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley); we love a woke queen. We also get another hilarious character out of Eddie Murphy in Randy Watson, the rather zesty lead singer in the group Sexual Chocolate. Akeem sets his sights on Lisa and ends up getting himself and Semmi a job at her father's restaurant McDowell's, a McDonald's rip off. John Amos delivers a campy yet classic performance as Cleo McDowell and we meet his other daughter Patrice (Allison Dean) and Lisa's boyfriend Darryl Jenks (Eriq La Salle), the soul-glo prince.

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

Akeem tirelessly tries time and time again to win Lisa over but between keeping up the facade that he's poor, and keeping Semmi under control, it's a tough task. It wasn't until Mr. McDowell and Darryl conspire against Lisa to force her into a proposal that sent her right into my boy Hakeem's arms. Semmi, who is over this broke boy lifestyle, sends a telegraph to King Jaffe for more money. This brings Akeem's family to America and outing him as a prince to Mr. McDowell. McDowell, being the money hungry man he is, is ecstatic to learn of Akeem's true riches, but Lisa is not. I'll go into this in a bit, but that part always blew me, but I digress. Lisa runs off and Akeem runs after her, and in a final attempt to win her love, offers to renounce his throne. Lisa declines and Akeem returns home to Zamunda for his arranged wedding. When all is said and done, to his surprise, Lisa turns out to be the bride-to-be behind the veil on his wedding day and the two get married and ride off into Black Excellence.

Albeit, the plot itself suffers from the will they/won't they/love at first sight/you should've trusted me with the truth clichés, but Eddie Murphy & co. did such a great job at adding a breath of fresh air to this regurgitated plot. The comedy in this movie is some of Murphy and Hall's best, not to mention the outstanding performances we got from Murphy, Hall, James Earl Jones, Headley and especially John Amos as Cleo McDowell. Honestly, if it weren't for the acting of Eddie Murphy & Arsenio Hall, this movie, with the same exact jokes, would've fell flat.

One of the biggest things that bothered me with this movie is Lisa’s reaction to Akeem being a prince. One could argue that she was mad because she was used to the men in her life lying to her and tricking her into thinking something, but I won’t lie I feel like that’s a reach. Maybe I’m too used to Chicago women that would be fake mad for like 10 minutes then ask when she can get her crown.

The plot is a little too thin to hold up on its own, but Murphy and Hall take it home. For a movie to compete with the likes of HairsprayBeetlejuiceDie Hard and still come up as third highest grossing movie of the year is impressive. With a budget of only $39M, the movie grossed an astounding $288M. All in all, the movie holds up and solidifies itself as a classic. I'm giving it an 8/10.

Rico's Playhouse Podcast
For the culture reviews: Paid in Full
Roc-a-Fella Films

Roc-a-Fella Films

Welcome friends to the beginning of a very lit series, For the Culture series. The rules? We'll be revisiting good black movies that white critics said were trash simply because they're not lit. No seriously, they are not equipped with the "powa of da blek pantha" to properly critique and review our movies. And look, don't get me wrong here it's not totally heir fault. Blame the magazines and outlets that hire their old white journalists and critics over the POC that were overlooked or not hired yet. Yeah, I'm on dirt.

First up on our list, Paid in Full, a hood classic. Real nigga cinema at its finest bro. The movie follows the come up of dry cleaner worker Ace (Wood Harris) in 1980's Harlem, right in the middle of the crack-cocaine era. Drug dealers and pressure to conform to the streets surround Ace; his sister's boyfriend, Calvin (Kevin Carroll), seems to be top dog in the game and won't let you forget it. On top of that, his closest homie Mitch (Mekhi Phifer), a flashy dope boy, is who ends up exposing Ace to the dope game after Ace finds a rock in a customer's dry cleaning. That customer, Lulu (Esai Morales) ends up becoming the plug, Mitch and Calvin end up getting arrested and that leaves Ace to inevitably run the game. The movie implies that Ace really had no choice in the matter, everywhere he went he was clowned for essentially doing the "right thing" and staying out of the game; I mean, when a cuban plug hands you a rock and says come back when you're done with that, what are ya gonna do?

Roc-a-Fella Films

Roc-a-Fella Films

While Mitch is locked up, he gets help by this wild nigga named Rico (Cam'Ron). I've said it before; I'll say it again. Any nigga named Rico is finna always do/say/be about some wild shit. Once Mitch gets out of jail he's shown by all love from Ace and the block. It's one of the many real and authentic moments that director, Charles Stone III and actor Mekhi Phifer brings the movie. Ace puts Mitch and Ace on in the game and everybody was eating. The movie does such a great job at foiling Ace and the other niggas he's surrounded by. Ace is levelheaded, humble, and smart. To Ace, it's chess not checkers, and that's why he ultimately comes out on top. Calvin just got out of jail and comes to Ace looking for work. Knowing that Calvin is hot right now, Ace sets him up with something little to start off with but Calvin dusty ass was a hater from the get go and wanted more. Rico enforces Ace's decision ultimately forcing Calvin to quit.

Roc-a-Fella Films

Roc-a-Fella Films

Ultimately Ace is shot and almost killed by Calvin and Rico takes vengeance killing the nigga in broad daylight and hitting a wheelie right after. While Ace recovers, he tells Mitch and Rico he's out the game and I feel it. Of course Rico nor Mitch agreed with the decision but Rico was a bit more vocal with his concerns with the iconic "niggas get shot everyday, b" line. Phifer honestly acts his ass off this entire movie explaining how ultimately, he can't quit. He loves the hustle and the game and THIS is where we see the true traits of all 3 main characters. It's brilliant. Mitch's little brother is kidnapped with a $500K ransom, which prompts Ace to give Mitch the rest of the kilos he had stashed up. The moment Rico's wild snake ass finds this out; he kills Mitch and steals the kilos. This leads to the death of Mitch's brother as well. Ace, knowing this is chess not checkers, figures this out and sets Rico up to get arrested, shit was wild g.

Roc-a-Fella Films

Roc-a-Fella Films

Paid in Full sits at a disappointing 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, Ebert & Roeper gave it a 2.5/4 and one of the critics from the L.A. Weekly said it was "lazily directed" by Charles Stone III. Again, these people can't connect or grasp on to the story because, for the most part, they can't relate. Just like the old white Academy members who were ready to pass on Get Out without even seeing the movie, these critics aren't equipped.

Stone snapped with the foiling of every drug dealer we're introduced to in the movie and just overall character development. The scenes where we see both Mitch & Ace deal with conflict and their meet ups with the plug were brilliant. We saw this for the first time in the opening act where Mitch goes "I gotta go to work" and we see the parallels between good ole Money Makin' Mitch and Ace. The performances we got from Mekhi Phifer, Wood Harris, and even Cam'Ron were all very impressive.

Roc-a-Fella Films

Roc-a-Fella Films

Ladies and gentlemen, this is why the critics that reviewed the movie weren't properly equipped and just didn't get it. When Mitch pulled up in that new Benz, I felt that shit nigga! I felt all of his happiness and excessive need to stuntwhite people can't relate bro. Or Mitch's homecoming scene, that was black excellence at its finest y'all. My mans came home to a new whip, bread in his pockets and a spot at the top. Tell me you didn't feel that shit? Gone head and lie. Lastly, that scene in the car where Mitch breaks down in front of Ace about Sonny's kidnapping was ACTING my guy. Little known fact: Mekhi Phifer wrote that whole scene himself.

The overall story itself is solid, but THIS is probably its biggest flaw. I would have loved to see more moments where we see Ace coming into his own as a kingpin before Mitch and Rico's arrival. One critic even suggested that this should have been a love story that followed Ace and Keisha's (Regina Hall) relationship; I'm lowkey here for it. We got that iconic black love line, "I'm with you because I'm boring too. Now gimme that money." and it was gold! But all in all, Paid in Full is a Real nigga classic and For The Culture. I give it a solid 8/10.

Black Oscars: the nominees
Shoutout Elena Winkel for the dope thumbnail! Follow her on Twitter for more work @lacheps.

Shoutout Elena Winkel for the dope thumbnail! Follow her on Twitter for more work @lacheps.

Award season is in full force right now and the 90th Academy Awards is this Sunday, so I thought it'd be appropriate for us to participate in the awards this year. You know, lend the academy the voice of a real one for a change. What we have here is the official, Black Oscars. It's lit!

"Well hell, what even are the Black Oscars?" Glad you asked colonizer! Essentially these are nominations for us and by us (us being black people). This doesn't necessarily mean the nominations will be limited to just black movies (which I'll explain exactly what that is, one day) or black actors; what it means is that these are the movies and actors that impacted us in the past year. These are OUR nominees and winners chosen by OUR academy because we lit. In a world where #OscarsSoWhite exists and Get Out is being overlooked by the old academy members, this is a much needed escape. The rules: The movie must have been for the culture or had cultural impact and been released between January 2017 to February 2018. So, let's get to it folks. Here are your nominees for the Black Oscars.

Aye Buddy Ass Went Crazy (Best Leading Actor)

Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Chadwick Boseman, Marshall
Idris Elba, Molly's Game
James McAvoy, Split
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Go Crazy Shorty (Best Leading Actress)

Regina Hall, Girls Trip
Amandla Steinberg, Everything Everything
Mandy Moore, 47 Meters Down (this movie was lowkey lit af, check it out on Netflix)
Amy Adams, Arrival (yikes, we need more female-led movies)

Marvel

Marvel

Bro Decent As Hell (Best Supporting Actor)

Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther
Lil Rel, Get Out
Finn Wolfhard, It (the lil homie from It and Stranger Things had us weak)
Chris Pine, Wonder Woman
Joel Edgerton, Bright

Aight Lil Mama, I See You (Best Supporting Actress)

Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip
Letitia Wright, Black Panther (Colonizer!)
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Zendaya, The Greatest Showman

Aye What's Buddy Name From Marvel? (Best Comic Book Actor)

Hugh Jackman, Logan
Chadwick Boseman, Black Panther
Michael Keaton, Spider-Man: Homecoming
Michael Fassbender, X-Men: Apocalypse
Forest Whitaker, Black Panther (Te powah of te Blak Pantha will now be scripped, eweh)

Shorty From Justice League Decent As Hell (Best Comic Book Actress)

Tessa Thompson, Thor: Ragnarok
Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman
Dafne Keen, Logan (I-Con-Ic)
Danai Gurira, Black Panther
Zoe Saldana, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2

Aye G Wholetime, That Shit Looked Beautiful (Best Cinematography)

Baby Driver
Black Panther
47 Meters Down
Blade Runner 2049
Mudbound

Yeah They Ass Snapped (Best Director)

Jordan Peele, Get Out (#StayWoke)
Ryan Coogler, Black Panther
Andy Muschietti, It
Edgar Wright, Baby Driver
Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman

They Ass Was Flee As Hell (Best Costume Design)

It
Wonder Woman
Marshall
Detroit

We Love An Anthem (Best Original Soundtrack)

Black Panther: The Album
Baby Driver: Music From The Motion Picture
The Hitman's Bodyguard (Original Soundtrack Album)
Get Out (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Mudbound (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Whoever Wrote This Raw As Hell (Best Screenplay)

Get Out, Jordan Peele
Detroit, Mark Boal
Baby Driver, Edgar Wright
Black Panther, Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole
It, Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga & Gary Dauberman

Universal

Universal

G This Damn Near The Best Thing I've Ever Seen (Best Picture)

Detroit
Baby Driver
It
Logan
One For The Culture (Best *Black* Picture)
Black Panther
Get Out
Girls Trip

No Lie, This Shit Ain't Just For Kids G (Outstanding Animated Movie)

Boss Baby
Coco
Captain Underpants
Despicable Me 3

You Tryna See Black Panther For The 3rd Time? (Best Comic Book Movie)

Wonder Woman
Thor: Ragnarok
Logan
Black Panther
Power Rangers

Universal

Universal

That Shit Was Scary As Hell (Best Horror Movie)

Split
It
Get Out
47 Meters Down
Insidious: The Last Key

 

That Shit Was Lit Af! (Most Entertaining Film)

John Wick: Chapter 2
The Fate of the Furious
Girls Trip
Jumanji
Power Rangers

Bruh, I'm Weak! (Best Comedy)

Girls Trip
Jumanji
Fist Fight
Boo 2: A Madea Halloween

Screen Gems

Screen Gems

Aye, That Shit Was Trash Fam (Worst Movie Of The Year)

All Eyez On Me
Boo 2: A Madea Halloween
Proud Mary :(
Insidious: The Last Key
Kidnapped (Damn what they on with Halle?)
The Belko Experiement
Bright

And that’s all folks! Your official Black Oscar nominees are here. We got some deep thought to put into this so catch the winners this Sunday! Comment/Tweet/Share your thoughts on the actual nominees! A special shout out to my brain trust panel for helping narrow down the nominees. Y'all the real MVP's.

New Kendrick Lamar & SZA joint on TDE-curated 'Black Panther' soundtrack

Start your Friday off right with new music from Kendrick Lamar & SZA with “All The Stars.” off the Black Panther soundtrack. As usual the duo come through and kill the record. Kendrick and Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith will also be in charge of curating the entire soundtrack.

TDE has already owned 2017 with DAMN and CTRL alone and it appears they’re not letting up in 2018.  Not only am I looking forward to the new Black Panther soundtrack, but I can’t wait to see what’s to come from one of the top labels in the game right now.

Black Panther comes out in theaters on February 16th.