New Trailer and Poster for Ridley Scott’s ‘The Last Duel’

Sir Ridley Scott has given us some of the finest cinematic experiences of all time from Alien to Gladiator. There has been strong anticipation for The Last Duel, given the talent both in front of and behind the camera, and today, 20th Century Studios finally unveiled the first trailer. The film stars Matt Damon, Adam Driver, and the always amazing Jodie Comer. Take a look at the trailer for yourselves here:

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Ray Fawkes’ ‘One Line’ is a Visual Symphony

There’s something oracular about Ray Fawkes’ One Line — the whole One Soul series, frankly — but this book particularly stretches the boundaries of sequential art and meta-comics, and reading it gives me the sense that as I turn the pages, the book is also reading me. You don’t need to have read One Soul or The People Inside to enjoy One Line, though it helps in appreciating the journey of the series’ experimental, multilinear form.

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A Review of ‘Across the Tracks’

Greenwood, Oklahoma aka “Black Wall Street,” dubbed so by Booker T. Washington, was a once thriving Black community. Thoroughly segregated from the rest of white Tulsa, nevertheless it boasted entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, entertainment venues, and markets, everything a town would need to sustain itself. To be happy and self-sufficient. That is until 1921 when a mob of deputized whites burned the town to the ground. Not only were the murderous white mob deputized to engage in the massacre, they were given weapons by officials of the city government. The even used an aerial bomb.

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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.

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NOC Interview: ‘Small Axe’ Star Sheyi Cole Talks ‘Alex Wheatle’

With his bold and multifaceted Small Axe anthology, Steve McQueen has made the films of the moment. Three of the five films — Lovers Rock, Mangrove, and Red, White and Blue — have premiered to a great reception at the NYFF. The films capture vividly the lives of London’s West Indian community in the 1970s and ’80s and their force of will against systemic racism and discrimination. “I dedicate these films to George Floyd, and all the other black people that have been murdered, seen or unseen, because of who they are, in the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere,” the director said in May. 

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Bonus Hard NOC Life: ‘Hamilton’ as Fan Fiction (from 2016)

Hard NOC Life will go on a brief hiatus as we prepare for our landmark 200th episode.

But since today is the premiere of Hamilton on Disney+, we’re re-sharing this panel from November 2016 as a bonus episode of the podcast. You can find the original post here.

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Witnessing a Revolution Unfold (And How I Hope it Continues)

Originally posted at Just Add Color | Featured photo by munshots on Unsplash

The past few days have been a whirlwind, to say the least.

As we have all seen or heard at this point in time, George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police when former officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s neck. Chauvin has since been arrested — initially on the charge of third-three murder, but the charge has since been raised to second-degree murder. The other three former officers, Thomas Kiernan Lane, Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao, have also been arrested on aiding and abetting Floyd’s murder.

The escalation of charges, however, didn’t come without a fight. For an entire week, people marched in Minneapolis, around the country, and around the world, for Floyd’s killer and accomplices to be brought to justice. Part of those protests included a riot that ended with Minneapolis’ third precinct police station being burned down.

Throughout the riots, protests, and general unrest, I went through a myriad of emotions, to the point where I felt unable to write for this site. I still haven’t watched the video of Floyd’s death because for me, reading about the details, including Floyd calling for his deceased mother, was enough. If I watched the video, I knew I would be haunted by it for the rest of my life. I am already haunted by the lives of so many Black people who have been needlessly killed, and their stories were already compelling me without having to see them get killed on camera. I didn’t want to see the video that would only add insult to injury — the insult being that no one would care.

Or so I thought.

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Raymond Bagatsing on Becoming Manuel Quezon in ‘Quezon’s Game’

From 1937-1941, under the leadership of President Manuel Quezon, the Philippines opened their doors to Jewish refugees fleeing from Europe, at the beginning of what would eventually become the Holocaust. Approximately 1,300 lives were saved.

It’s a little known history about the Philippines, but what is even less known is how much Quezon had to fight to make it happen, due to the country being under occupation by the United States at the time. It’s this story that’s explored for the first time for the big screen in the film, Quezon’s Game.

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‘Just Mercy’ Effectively Calls for Justice with Emotional Impact

It’s no secret that the justice system in the United States is a mess like no other. However, the odds of navigating it and coming out unscathed — if at all — are worse for the Black community. Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer and founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, witnessed just how brutal it is, as he worked tirelessly to free Walter McMillian from death row, after being arrested for a murder he did not commit. Just Mercy tells that story.

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‘The Terror: Infamy’ Doesn’t Need Ghosts to be Scary

In the third episode of The Terror: Infamy, one of the main characters told his wife, who put up some items to protect from evil, “It may protect us from spirits, but not from human evil.”

The latest installment of the supernatural anthology series by Alexander Woo and Max Borenstein explores a dark part of history in America during World War II — Japanese American internment and the ghosts (yūrei) that haunt them.

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The Timing and Timeliness of ‘Hamilton’

The following is a slightly altered cross-post, originally published on Lola By The Bay.

Last weekend, I finally got to see a matinee performance of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical, Hamilton, at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco.

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#EduHam: ‘Hamilton’ Puts History in the Hands of the Future

”This is for ones like us, that had big hopes and dreams but didn’t make it.” — Lea Ibragimova, Shanae Bennett, and Valentina Vidal Ortega from Rachel Carson High School for Coastal Studies

There’s nothing like seeing Hamilton the Musical with a crowd of high school juniors. They laugh at the sex jokes, they get squirmy about death, and they echo the chorus of “ohhhh” at every diss in the show. Having seen Hamilton three times now (yes, I’m bragging a little — you would too), it was absolutely the best audience to see the show with. But it wasn’t the centerpiece of the day.

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What’s Hiding Behind the Feel-Good Curtain of Hidden Figures: One Black Feminist’s Take

In a scene in Hidden Figures that is all too familiar for Black women viewers, or really anyone from a historically marginalized group, Taraji P. Henson’s character Katherine Johnson rushes to enter the NASA control room where she has just handed off crucial calculations for astronaut John Glenn’s safe return from orbit, and has the door summarily slammed in her face. The camera lingers on Henson’s profile, as she grapples yet again with the devastating knowledge that although she may be a useful “computer” for spitting out numbers that may make missions successful and even save lives, she is still not seen as fully human in the eyes of her peers and superiors. Indeed, in Henson’s capable hands, viewers ourselves experience the physical and emotional pain of being barred from entering the halls of power for absurd reasons beyond one’s control — in this case, race and gender.

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Netflix is 3% Closer, but Still Fighting White Supremacy Saviors

At this point, it’s damn near impossible to keep up with the onslaught of Netflix original programming. Along with all of the film and series content, the tentacles of the entertainment Kraken inevitably started reaching out for more international collaborations. Around Thanksgiving we were treated to the Brazilian series 3%. In terms of originality, it doesn’t score high: another variation on the theme of a future world where young adults do what they have to do to survive.

It does have its points of deviation though from say The Hunger Games and Divergent with a touch of Elysium. Brazil has had a long and appalling history of income inequality, which I’m sure is where the idea of the tagline came from: “In a dystopian future there is a clear divide between the rich and poor, but when a person turns 20, they have the opportunity to cross the divide.” As implied, by free will all the candidates get to try to make it from the miserable mainland to the utopian island Mar Alto; that looks kind of like Recife to Fernando de Noronha on the map. The tests they undergo are less physical and more psychological until they are whittled down to the fabled 3%. The setting, albeit futuristic, feels closer to present as we undergo our own survival in the collapse.

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Bryan Thao Worra on Lao Science Fiction (From CTRL+ALT)

In our final live edition of Hard NOC Life from the NOC Reading Lounge at CTRL+ALT — the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s pop-up culture lab in the former Pear River Mart location in SoHo, award-winning poet Bryan Thao Worra discusses the literature of the Laotian diaspora and explains why the Asian American literay canon needs more speculative fiction.

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Let’s Make John Lewis’ March a #1 Seller on Amazon

President-elect Donald Trump has decided to go after Civil Rights movement icon — and national hero — Congressman John Lewis. The attack comes after Rep. Lewis told NBC’s Chuck Todd that he didn’t view Trump as a legitimate president due to Russia’s interference with the 2016 election. Lewis isn’t wrong, and it is more than hypocritical for the PEOTUS to lash out at people questioning his legitimacy since that’s what he has done to President Obama for the last five years. In the meantime, Twitter has clapped back at Trump, and many of Lewis’ colleagues in congress have pledged to boycott the inauguration. We want to help out by pointing our readers to Lewis’ award-winning graphic memoir trilogy, March. Let’s all pitch in to make his books #1 bestsellers on Amazon this Martin Luther King Day weekend.

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History as Fan Fiction: A CTRL+ALT Panel on ‘Hamilton’

Back in November, we recorded a live edition of Hard NOC Life from the NOC Reading Lounge at CTRL+ALT — the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s pop-up culture lab in the former Pearl River Mart location in SoHo. Hamilton superfans Constance Gibbs, Kendra James, and Kevin T. Morales joined Keith to nerd out over the smash Broadway hit musical Hamilton.

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Our Roddenberry Moment

The day after the election, I received a message from a frenemy I’ve known since junior high. He has kept close tabs on me and my career, always presenting himself as “devil’s advocate” or “the rational voice of the other side of the argument.” Basically, he’s a book smart troll I didn’t block because of the insidious effects of nostalgia. His message was one line:

“What good is all that science fiction stuff, now that we’ve won?”

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Let’s Talk About Romani Characters in Comics

By now the events of Peter David’s NYCC anti-Romani rant is all wrapped up, with David writing a series of personal blog posts including an apology to the Romani community. Whether the Romani community — and the Romani activist involved in the incident, along with fans who were both at the panel and have seen the video — forgive David is a separate issue. Rather than focus on the merits of an apology, the opportunity presents itself to instead focus on the actual issue of lack of Romani representation in our media.

To first understand why the lack of Romani representation is an important issue, we have to understand who the Romani people are. For many — including myself — because of this overall lack of representation, there comes an overall prevalence of ignorance regarding who the Romani people are, what their struggles are, and what their actual culture is.

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See George Takei’s Broadway Musical Allegiance on the Big Screen

If you missed out on George Takei’s Allegiance during its acclaimed, but brief, Broadway run, Fathom Events is giving you an opportunity to see the musical — that made Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda sob — in a cinema near you!

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Luke Cage: Dig a Little Deeper

My sister, Dr. Tara Betts, dropped the Luke Cage syllabus over at Black Nerd Problems. It is a must read. I wanted to add to this wealth of knowledge by offering my own “special features” companion piece to Cage. I will present the following without description as I do not want to taint anyone’s experience. This is only a small amount if what is actually out there. I mentioned other books in my reflections on the series. You can read it here.

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TIFF Review: The Birth of a Nation

by Joelle Monique

In watching The Birth of a Nation I was a little destroyed. There’s so much to unpack. Nat Turner is a legendary figure in the Black community — a former slave who removed his own shackles. It’s a story I’ve wanted to see on screen for a long time. The reviews out of Sundance were huge. Then, news of Nate Parker rape charges and acquittal broke. I debated a long time about whether or not to cover the story when I came to TIFF. Eventually, I decided that a film this prominent and this culturally invested couldn’t be ignored. I have mixed feelings about what I saw. I’m going to take it slow.

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Jon Tsuei is Right: A #WhitewashedOUT Ghost in the Shell Misses the Cultural Mark

There’s been so much talk about Ghost in the Shell, Dr. Strange, whitewashing, yellowface, and underrepresentation I bet some of you out there are saying, “Man, I might be at my limit!” But wait, there’s more!

When the first look image of Scarlett Johansson as The Major came out, tons of people, Ghost in the Shell fans and regular movie fans alike, were dismayed that yet another opportunity to cast talented Asian actresses passed Hollywood by. Or to put it another way, folks were upset that Hollywood didn’t take the opportunity to advance itself into something better than it has been.

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