Sabrina is talking to someone on the phone in the first scene of Jezebel. She’s hard at work as a phone sex operator, moaning in her husky voice to really sell her performance. What makes the scene jarring is realizing her younger sister Tiffany is wide awake nearby, hearing everything.

Thus begins a film that explores financial independence and sex work from the lens of a young Black woman to great effect.

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Shrill Aidy Bryant

While staring at an exercise advertisement in a coffee shop, Annie (Aidy Bryant) is confronted by “Toned Tonya,” the woman pictured in the ad. She speaks to Annie in a condescending manner, talking about her weight as if it’s a burden of some sort. “There’s a small person inside of you, dying to get out!” Tonya says with enthusiasm (and unknowing disrespect). Annie’s weight (and the conversation surrounding it) is something that many plus-size women experience.

The first two episodes of Hulu’s Shrill work to set the tone that Annie’s weight, living as a plus-sized woman, is apart of her life – but there’s more to her life than that. And it makes for an endearing, personable and funny start to the series.

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While on the phone with her coach, Winter Olympics athlete Penelope (Alexi Pappas) rambles about her training and her hopes for the competition. “I hope that I really feel like an olympian when I’m done,” she says with nervous energy.

That’s the theme of Olympic Dreams in a nutshell: feeling like an olympian means going for the gold, by any means necessary. In both Penelope and Ezra’s (Nick Kroll) case, it’s their friendship that makes them evaluate what the gold/goal is for them – and how far are they willing to get it. Directed by Jeremy Teicher, the film’s exploration of limited time well-spent makes for an unsure, but real, love story.

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David Makes Man Review

Series creator Tarell Alvin McCraney spoke to the audience about his show’s protagonist David during the Q&A at the premiere of OWN’s David Makes Man“I said to myself, ‘This is the job,'” he said. “Not to change him into somebody else, to take his gifts outside of the community. But to make the community greater by giving all that he’s got back to it.”

Like Moonlight before it, the drama series’ source material comes from McCraney’s own personal life, specifically the experience of being told he was gifted. For many black students, being deemed “gifted” comes the pressure and expectation that you will be separated from peers that look like you.  The warring concept of the community that made you who you are being a deterrent to your gifts is explored in the first episode – which makes for a promising and stylistically start to the series. Read More »

Having an internal crisis, high schooler Molly turns to to her classmate and exclaims “You guys don’t care about school!” To which she snidely responds “We just don’t only care about school.”

What happens when your whole worldview shifts and you discover the choices you made for yourself were not the only viable options? For two teen girls who are quickly approaching graduation, they discover that the fun of their teenage years has almost slipped out of their hands – and they have one night to fix that. The Olivia Wilde-directed Booksmart follows these girls as they decide to finally let loose the night before graduation. Their adventure leads audiences through a hilarious, sharp, endearing, and ultimately loving film that stands out from other, seemingly similar comedies.

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Go Back to China Review

At her sixth interview, the interviewer asks Sasha in a slightly snarky way “How do you expect to get experience?” Sasha’s responds in a pleading and confused manner: “…By getting a job?”

This interaction is a perfect snapshot of Sasha Li’s issues in writer/director Emily Ting’s film Go Back To China. While many other millennials can relate to that chicken-or-the-egg scenario of employment, Sasha is in a position of privilege by having her dad’s money to fall back on. Once that security blanket is taken away, we begin a story that’s endearing, personal, and dramatic.

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Jordan Peele's Us Super Bowl Trailer

At the SXSW Premiere of US, director/writer/producer Jordan Peele reflected on going beyond the standard horror beats. “I love horror” he mused about the conventions of the genre and what inspires him. “At the same time, who cares?” he said to laughs.

This perfectly captures what US does: it’s a carelessness to how Peele approaches the story, but not in a lazy or disrespectful way. But rather, a lack of care to stick to what audiences expect from horror – and that makes for a sharp, funny and terrifying film.  

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Walt said it best: it was all started by a mouse.

Disney is celebrating their most iconic character in an interactive way, with an 16K square-foot exhibition in NYC called Mickey: The True Original Exhibition that’s a fun commemoration of Mickey’s influence on art and pop culture. Darren Romanelli, curator & creative director of the exhibition, was on hand for press previews of the space, speaking about how this experience came to life: “I have a unique relationship with Mickey Mouse.”

/Film had a chance to walk through the entire exhibition and see how that unique relationship comes to life, with archive moments and original pieces from a variety of different artists.

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john david washington interview

John David Washington was just a shocked as you were when he learned about the story of a Black cop infiltrating the KKK. The actor is staring in BlacKkKlansman, directed by Spike Lee, which tells this true story from Ron’s Stallsworth book of the same name. Washington’s energy is palpable, and he brings that energy into his role as the Colorado Springs cop who takes the fight against racism to an almost unbelievable level.

Here, we chatted about working with Spike Lee, the film festival circuit, and keeping that same energy when talking to anyone. 

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BlacKkKlansman trailer

What do you do when you’re a Black person trying to infiltrate the local chapter of the KKK?

If you’re a Black person being asked this question, your immediate response should be “no thanks,” for obvious reasons. But if you spend the time thinking through the frankly ridiculous ask for the sake of the exercise, you could imagine that it would take detailed planning and a gracefulness needed to pull it off. After all, that’s the premise of the based-on-true-events BlacKkKlansman.

Luckily for new Colorado Springs detective Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), he was able to succeed with none of that in his arsenal. As for the Spike Lee-directed film based on his 2014 book however, gracefulness would have gone far to reduce the heavy-handedness of this film’s message. It’s a spirited film, but also a clumsy one.

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