NOC Sundance Review: ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’

While the details of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus Christ are debated, Judas goes down in history as one of the most infamous traitors — all over 30 pieces of silver. Maybe Judas didn’t like the fact that the people hailed Christ as a “Messiah” — a title the FBI used as code names for Black radical liberators in the 1960s to the late 1970s. One such “Messiah” is the young Black Panther activist and Chicago native Fred Hampton, mercilessly killed thanks to Black a panther Party (BPP) infiltrator and informant William O’Neal, FBI Agent Roy Mitchell, and J. Edgar Hoover.

Directed Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah tells the story of Fred Hampton’s betrayal in great detail. As an activist, Hampton aimed to unite people from all walks of life against systemic oppression. Still, the counter intelligence program (COINTELPRO) FBI death squad stopped all. Can’t have people of color and poor whites thinking they have any power.

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Fantasia Film Fest 2020 Review: ‘The Columnist’

I’ve had my many run-ins with cyberbullying. The thought has, and will probably continue to cross my mind, that if I ever met some of these bullies I’m going to give them a piece of my mind. Avo Van Aart’s new film The Columnist takes that sentiment to a whole different level. Actress Katja Herbers stars as an author, former columnist, and homicidal maniac that uses murder to cure writer’s block. This absurdist black comedy goes deep into the psyche of a woman who is tired — tired of patriarchy and tired of cyberbullying.

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Fantasia Film Fest 2020 Review: ‘Come True’

I participated in a sleep study six years ago. It was a claustrophobic experience. All sorts of tubes and wires hooked onto my body to determine the source of my night terrors.  Well, turns out the problem was poor sleep due to anemia (of which I had no idea night terrors were a symptom). While finding the solution to my problem was simple (it came in the form taking iron pills), the lead character in Anthony Scott Burns’ new sci-fi horror film Come True, doesn’t have it so easy.  

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Fantasia Fest 2020 Film Review: ‘Undergods’

Capitalism kills in the new Chino Moya apocalyptic film Undergods. In Moya’s universe, men and women are equally terrible because capitalism itself breeds greed, dishonesty, and hierarchy. It’s a war of the haves and the have-nots, and those at the bottom of the food chain will have their retribution. In 2020, class warfare rules the day and strict examinations of our society are needed, but from this film you’ll gain no insight. It can’t be called an anthology because that would require cohesion. This is all about spectatorship. The viewer must watch things happen to people with no real plot line to direct them to a conclusion. 

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Fantabulous ‘Birds of Prey’ Really Takes Off

Separated from the Suicide Squad and dumped by the Joker, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), wants to move on but is not sure how. She’s kept the breakup a secret but wants to reveal it’s over.  She comes up with the bright idea to blow up the location where they confessed their love for one another. Harley Quinn gets away with just about anything around Gotham because people are scared of the Joker’s wrath. Once that relationship is gone, though, all hell breaks loose for her as this sends a message that she’s no longer under the Clown Prince’s protection. Oops.

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Lunch with William Jackson Harper of ‘The Good Place’

Last week, The Nerds of Color was invited to join other journalists for a special intimate lunch with William Jackson Harper, one of the stars of the hit NBC comedy The Good Place. Now in its fourth and final season, Harper — who plays Chidi Anagonye, the ethical and moral center of Team Cockroach, aka The Soul Squad — took time out to reflect on the opportunity to be part of a special show and the differences between making television and film.

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The Tethered are Coming to Your Home with ‘Us’ on 4K Ultra HD

Northern California is where the breakdown of American society begins in Jordan Peele’s second feature film Us. You can be a part of the tethered family by picking up the 4K ultra HD Blu-Ray DVD or streaming on demand today!

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Interviewing Kiki Layne of ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’

There is no question the work of writer and activist James Baldwin is timeless and timely because no matter how long ago he wrote his books, essays, and social commentary, his words are always right on time. Barry Jenkins’ new film If Beale Street Could Talk is an adaptation of the novel of the same name that works to capture the essence of Baldwin’s message of love, poverty and a broken justice system.

The film stars Kiki Layne and Stephan James as Tish and Fonny, young lovers from Harlem in the 1960s. When Fonny is accused on a crime he didn’t commit, and Tish discovers she is pregnant, her family rallies together to prove Fonny’s innocence.

With the film releasing in select theaters in New York and LA, The Nerds of Color are just in time with interviews. I enjoyed talking with the charming young actress Kiki Layne about love, family, and working with legendary actress Regina King.

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Stephan James Talks ‘Beale Street’ and Black Love

Barry Jenkins’ new film If Beale Street Could Talk is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by James Baldwin. When writing the book, I’m sure Baldwin never thought his works would be translated on screen. A conversation can also be had on whether or not James Baldwin ever thought his work would be as poignant today as it was 44 years ago. The justice system is still screwed, Black folks are still in poverty in America, but hopefully the public’s view of ‘Black love’ will change upon viewing this film.

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‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ is an Impressive Achievement

New York City isn’t the diverse utopia many think it is. If there is any system that shows just how broken things are, it is the city’s police force where “protect and serve” is on a circumstantial based on the color of your skin. This is among the many themes in James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk, which is in good hands with director Barry Jenkins.

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Ghost in the Shell

Ghost In The Shell: Worse Than We Thought

On February 28, I saw a 15-minute sneak peek of the Hollywood adaptation of Ghost in the Shell. From the announcement of the project, this has always been a bad idea. But the announcement of the cast and story has made things much worse. Most noticeably, Hollywood adaptations of Japanese anime have yet to be successful. Either their stories veer too far from the source material, the director isn’t a good fit or the casting makes no sense. You would think Hollywood would learn, yet here we are, on the precipice of another anime-adapted flop.

Here are the takeaways from what I have seen of Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell so far.

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The Great Wall Review: Is It Worth The Watch?

Originally posted at Black Girl Nerds

All that is lacking in substance is made up for with gorgeous imagery in a Zhang Yimou’s new and pointless film, The Great Wall. Whomever his set people are, give them all the awards because they bring their A-game when it comes to costume and set design. But I digress.

I’m not sure what I expected, but I certainly wasn’t expecting the Silk Road version of Edge of Tomorrow featuring giant Komodo Dragons. Shouldn’t a larger budget allow more time to work on perfecting the CGI? How many Adobe-editing programs did they use to get these monsters to look as fake and silly as they do? Zhang Yimou should stick to martial arts dramas because he is out of his element with The Great Wall.

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Doctor Strange: Another Rich, White Asshole Courtesy of Marvel

Doctor Strange, directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister), tells the story of Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a gifted neurosurgeon who is wrapped up in his own vanity. After karma executes Stephen’s fate he suffers irreversible damage to his hands, destroying his valued medical career. His desperate search for physical healing takes him to the Far East to a place called Kamar-Taj. There he meets the “Ancient One,” (Tilda Swinton) a mystical witch with undisputed power, and Baron Mordor (Chewitel Ejiofor) one of the chief masters of the Kamar-Taj temple. Strange believes the Ancient One is the key to healing his hands and returning back to the medical field. Little does he know he is smack in the middle of a war between good and evil. His visit to Kamar-Taj will be a turning point for Stephen Strange. He chooses to learn the ways of the arts but isn’t sure if this magical war is a good fit for him.

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Birth of a Nation is Poorly Done Slavery Pain-Porn

Nate Parker stars in the Nat Turner biopic film, Birth of a Nation. While most true story adaptations include a few embellishments, don’t go into this expecting anything remotely accurate. After having done some research, very little of what is presented in this film can be found as historical fact. What Parker has created is a sloppy, amateurish, slavery pain-porn film, rife with Christianity overkill. It’s a mockumentary of Nat Turner’s legacy and tries to trick its audience into thinking this is an actual part of history.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children: Another Tim Burton Borefest

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is the YA/action adventure film directed by the master of macabre, Tim Burton. This is the live-action adaptation of the book by author Ransom Riggs. Rumor has it that the books have potential and are engaging. That’s too bad because the movie isn’t any of those things. This painfully slow adaptation isn’t a return to form for Burton. It’s the same old hokey filmmaking, but time actress Eva Green is the victim! He really wants to show the audience that he still has that Beetlejuice, Mars Attacks charm. He wants you to know that his version of what is weird is acceptable. In a time where weirdness, geekiness, is the new norm, his message, and Miss Peregrine seem 10-years too late.

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Valerie’s Complexium: Navigating Through Nerd Spaces

Originally posted at Black Girl Nerds

Welcome to my column. I thank Jamie Broadnax and the BGN family for giving me a platform to talk about the adventures I experience being a journalist. Let me remind everyone that just because I have been given this platform, my thoughts are my own. And don’t necessarily reflect the thoughts of those at BGN.

Who am I?

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Admit it: Diversity Saved ‘Suicide Squad’

Suicide Squad director and writer David Ayer has written a screenplay that is flat and not very exciting. The editing is all over the place and most of the characters are boring. This may not be all Ayer’s fault. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Warner Brothers gave him only six weeks to write whatever he could and went straight to shooting. Why did the studio let this happen?!

I will give Ayer props for making the cast unique in that it’s one of the few (maybe the only) comic book film with such a diverse group of actors in major roles.

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X-Men Apocalypse: Fox Wins But People of Color Lose

Don’t expect this movie to rely heavily on the source material. Director Bryan Singer presents a film that’s a hodge-podge of various stories made up by people who know nothing about the X-Men. Aside from Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Apocalypse (Oscar Issac, doing well with whatever the hell he is given) being mildly entertaining, they can’t save the film from imploding. Everyone else is either used as filler or bores you to death with their on-screen presence. Choppy action scenes are put in place to mask the uninteresting, underdeveloped characters, cheesy dialogue, Playstation 2-quality special effects, and makeup that looks like it was bought from the bargain bin at Chapel Hill Beauty Supply. The worst part is the newcomers don’t get their chance to shine like the trailer would have you believe. Particularly the characters of color.

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Battle Angel Alita Lead Role Once Again Devoid of Asian American Prospects

In 2015, Nerdist announced that the live-action adaptation of the famed Japanese anime had been revived by directors James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez. Battle Angel Alita, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi action manga/anime written by Yukito Kishiro, is set in the 26th century and follows the female cyborg Alita, as she trains to become the world’s most deadly assassin. The latest report from the Robert Rodriquez/Jame Cameron production reveals that the filmmakers have their top three actresses for the lead role: Maika Monroe, Zendaya (who is the front runner), and Rosa Salazar. In other words: more bad news for Asian American actresses.

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10 Black Cosplayers You Should be Following on Social Media!

Originally posted on The Anime Complexium

If you were to google “cosplay” or “cosplayer,” you will see a lot of great costumes and beautiful cosplayers, but maybe one or two that are Black. In addition, you will have a hard time finding a list featuring black cosplayers as well. Not saying these lists aren’t out there (it’s possible I missed something on the search), but I searched through pages and pages of the search term and came up fairly empty.

Before you even think about this being some type of division because the word “Black” is in the title, let me stop you right there. Cosplay isn’t about race, it’s about being yourself and having fun. On this very site I have interview all types of cosplayers. Unfortunately, media dictates what is “popular” or aesthetically acceptable. So let go of any pre-conceived notions that this is about division, it is not. This is about celebration. This isn’t a list of who is at the top or the best. This is about highlighting some of the great artists that have been making waves in the cosplay community. Trust, this is the first of many lists highlighting cosplayers of color.

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Sex Kills: Urbance Pilot Available For Public Viewing

Originally posted at The Anime Complexium

Urbance is a dystopian animated series — complete with sex, drugs, and violence — against a gritty environment. This show has some stunning animation, coupled with its Japanese anime influences and trip-hop music, and comes together to create one trippy ride during the eight-minute Urbance pilot. Written and directed by Joel Dos Reis Viegas and Sebastian Larroude, with Studio Ghibli animator Hiroshi Shimizu, these three create a project that is all-inclusive.

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Four Hollywood Rip Offs of Motoko Kusanagi

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of Ghost in the Shell, (and 26 years since the manga was first published).

There is no denying the influence this film has had on Hollywood. From James Cameron to Steven Spielberg, directors have praised writer Matsume Shirow and director Mamoru Oshii for their work on the series. Ghost In the Shell was a game changer as it introduced a true Japanese post-cyberpunk world to American audiences.

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Did Xena: Warrior Princess Inspire Legend of Korra?

In the 1990s, Xena: Warrior Princess — starring Lucy Lawless — ruled TV. Her chakram, armor, and famous warrior cry helped elevate Xena to one of the 25 best TV shows of all time. It’s 2015, and we have a new TV super woman, and her name is Korra, the Avatar (voiced by Janet Varney). The Legend of Korra is the Nickelodeon animated series that tells the story of a young woman who has the power to control the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Her power to control the elements makes her the most powerful human on the planet. Korra is tasked with bringing balance to the world by merging the spirit and human world in perfect harmony.

Being a fan of both Xena and Korra, the wheels started turning in my head, so I came up with a theory that the creators of Legend of Korra had a little Xena inspiration.

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