Monday, January 25, 2016

Breaking Down the #OscarsSoWhite Blowback


When the Oscar nominations were announced earlier this month, people were once again stunned. For the second time in as many years, all the nominees for the acting and directing categories (with one exception) were white. Same goes for the Best Picture nods, which all centered on stories revolving around predominately white casts. As you can imagine in the social media age that we live in these days, the blowback was as swift as it was predictable .

Within hours the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag was trending and a number of people in and outside the Hollywood industry were being asked to opine on the topic at hand. I found it interesting the number of 'mainstream' news organizations that were quick to lambaste the Academy Awards for their lack of representation, when in fact many of their own newsrooms aren't exactly beacons of diversity either. Hey Pot, say hello to my main man Kettle.

This issue of a lack of diversity at the Oscars is hardly a new one. The fact that only a handful of black folks (not to mention Latinos and Asians) have won an Oscar since Hattie McDaniel became the first to do so back in 1940, is sadly not surprising. What is surprising is that The Academy (the group of individuals that vote and determine who is nominated and who wins an Oscar) still does not see the error in its ways.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

My 2015 Movies of the Year

Once again it seems like another year has flown by. It feels the older I get, the quicker time seems to move.

In terms of pure post output, this was my least productive year on the blog since its inception four years ago. I could use the same excuses of work, side projects, and other commitments, but the truth is, I have to be more disciplined in my time management and more consistent in my posts. With that said, though my posts were down considerably this year, I did manage to make it out to see some quality films.

Last year I didn't have a movie of the year, but there were nevertheless quality films I saw like "Beyond The Lights" for example. For 2015 my movies of the year are "Dope" and "Chef." I picked these films for very different reasons above the other titles I saw over the last 12 months.





I saw "Dope" while attending the American Black Film Festival last June and the film actually headlined the event. "Dope" centers around a high school senior named Malcolm played by Shameik Moore, and his two friends who are nerds at their local high school in Inglewood, California. Malcolm and his friends get invited to a party where a shootout occurs and Malcolm runs out only to find the drug Molly has been slipped into his bag. To make matters worse, he realizes he must sell the drug without being caught/killed all the while applying to get into Harvard. While the story takes place in the hood and involves drug dealing, I wouldn't consider this a 'hood movie.' The actors and director Rick Famuyiwa do a good job of making this film feel lively and even somewhat innocent despite its serious subject matter. Zoe Kravitz is very good in this film as well.

Monday, November 30, 2015

November Rule




The holidays are upon us and that means some dudes are having second thoughts about spending money and committing to their mates.

That is the basic premise of the movie "November Rule" which stars Mo McRae and Fresh Prince of Bel Air alum Tatyana Ali. They start out as partners, but McRae's character 'Steve' develops cold feet as the calendar flips to November and decides to dump Ali's character 'Leah' -- just as he has every previous girlfriend. Except this time Steve has a change of heart and realizes Leah is a true catch who he didn't truly appreciate until she was gone.

Along the way Steve's two friends represent both sides of the commitment fence: one is happily married and the other is happily single until he meets his new flame played by Lala Vasquez. All-in-all this is an enjoyable rom-com and worth a few good laughs.



Sunday, September 27, 2015

4 Years In

In the Fall of 2011 I sat down in front of my computer armed with an idea and plenty of time on my hands (I just finished a film and was, shall we say, unemployed at the time). From that, was the start of FilmSwag. The blog celebrated it's 4th birthday this past weekend. My baby is slowly growing up.

Since the blog has begun, I've been amazed at the ever evolving deep pool of roles that people of color have been getting in television (more so than film) these last few years. One of my early articles covered the fact that Taraji P. Henson openly complained that she was not featured in any of the ads or promos for the CBS series "Person of Interest." Four years later, it's safe to say Taraji has had the last laugh thanks to some show on Fox.

It hasn't just been more roles either, but whole families coming into the fray. Two of the more well known shows "Blackish" and "Fresh off the Boat," aren't just shows with families that happen to be black and Asian, but make a point to tell the narrative through the perspective of those characters. In order to tell these stories, you need to have writers who are familiar with everyday colloquiums and norms of a particular culture. These shows reflect that.

As for the future of this blog, I'm working on some upgrades and new content. I do admit, I haven't posted much this year, but I haven't forgotten about you guys, the readers, and I will continue to try and put good material out there. Here's to another 4 more years at least. Peace.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Looking Back at Rudy

College football returned last weekend just in time to whet our collective sports appetite for the coming Fall. It's this time of year where fans of teams hope to see their squad reach the College Football Playoffs and win a coveted National Championship. Last year, the world watched as a little known third string quarterback by the name of Cardale Jones beat Alabama and took care of Oregon to give the Ohio State Buckeyes their first National Championship since 2002. Coming into this season, I couldn't help but think of another unknown character who would never win a National Championship, but nevertheless became a part of all time college sports lore.

The name Rudy is synonymous with underdog stories. Here you have a barely 5 foot guy weighing 100 pounds soaking wet, who aspired to play college football at one of the most prestigious institutions in the land -- Notre Dame. After not playing for two years, Rudy is on the verge of giving up his dream all together. That is until he hears a speech from Roc, played by brilliantly Charles S. Dutton.