Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Awkwardness & Hilarity About Sex in 'Hello Cupid'

Hello Cupid: Farrah takes a look at Farrah..


That single exclamation repeated itself throughout audience showing of Hello Cupid, a film from the studio behind Black and Sexy TV. Tina Cerin, Numa Perrier, and Dennis Dortch directed with Perrier, Cerin, and Thais Francis (Cassie) writing this humor laced story about a young black woman virgin, bravely embarking on sexual journey riddled with frankly honest complications.

The opening focuses on quirky, stylish Farrah dressed in a long black duster, tee, and jeans; a free spirited, bare faced skateboarder with a killer massive Afro and infectious gap toothed grin. Her innocence is refreshingly genuine, a rarely depicted characterization in black women portraiture. In most popular modern films, television, and books, black women automatically know the ins and outs of sexual intercourse without ever a mention of first time experience.

Before Farrah enters a queer mixer, she has the attention of Justin, another skilled black skateboarder. Originally, she intended to meet Cassie, a confident, assertive, dark skinned beauty whose smile borders between sticky sweet to falsely chipper.

Farrah (Gabrielle Maiden) was first seen in Sexless.
Hello Cupid is a like a rich contemporary reminscence of Janie Crawford's path to sexuality in first acts of Their Eyes Were Watching God. With a comedic twist that is. Between her flustered blushing and inability to look pursuiters in the eyes, Farrah's bee sting is quite apparent, buzzing about her, attracting those around her, especially Justin and Cassie. Although Farrah is curious about which sexual destiny is best for her, she tests what each offers. Fascination mixed with hilarity and chaos ensues. Sometimes Farrah seems ready and other times, she allows herself to be coaxed. With overeager Cassie, Farrah is cautiously wary, but allows the gratification, succumbing to an alarmingly good, bathroom sink ride to orgasm ville. The aftermath, however, is awkward as hell-- Cassie acts strangely distant while Farrah is starry eyed enchanted. It's that sad Pariah scene again-- one is thrilled by the act and the other wants to bow out gracelessly. Yet the difference is that Cassie is out and proud, not shamefully hiding in the shadows clinging to misguided societal demands like Bina.

Still, Farrah is flashbacking to the heated moment of her "deflowering," changed provocatively, wearing makeup and little black dress to symbolize maturity. Out of fear of further rejection, she avoids Cassie, who appears interested again, and turns to Justin. They have a great date--skating, ice cream eating, the works. Unfortunately, the sex is awful. All degrees of clumsiness and fumbling occurs, which laughably crafted is the sordid truth. No one is a maestro overnight. 

In comparison with introductive experience, obviously one is far more enjoyable than the other for Farrah. 

Beautiful, talented Thais Francis, who co-wrote Hello Cupid: Farrah,
brought laughs and eyebrow raises as the strong willed Cassie. 
Hello Cupid's laudable highlight is that Farrah has a supportive She Circle. Her roommate is the first person she tells about her newfound sexual awakening and she is over the moon happy and supportive of her friend "finally getting some." Sex isn't always the most comfortable subject matter, often taking time to discuss openly. It was great that Farrah could confide in her female friends. Another amazing part featured a Farrah inspecting her lady parts in the bathtub and the real apprehension of acquiring an STD-- which more than likely was a result of Farrah's giant over exaggeration. The rivalry between Cassie and Justin was also very funny. One wondered if the scene of unseen stranger knocking on Cassie's door was in fact, a jealous Justin lusting for Farrah. 

In the end, Farrah, having gained separate experiences, remains holding onto lost innocence, still believing that she carries the virgin status card. Perhaps she has room to grow in her sexual path and it looks like Cassie might be the way.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Happy Birthday Viola Davis: Fem Film Rogue Icon Spotlight

Don't call her the "Black Meryl Streep," Viola Davis (first African American actor to win triple crown of acting: Oscar, Emmy, and Tony) has definitely carved a stake in Hollywood on her own terms.
I first saw this incredibly gifted actress in John Patrick Stanley's Doubt. She had this huge, pivotal scene that stole the whole film from seasoned Meryl Streep and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. I was taken aback, shaken to the core. "Until June," this mother would willingly ignore heinous allegations that a priest was possibly making on her young son, testimony based on words by a nun. What?

Viola Davis's delivery was excellent-- aghast, stunned, complacent. Immediately, I looked up her imdb, desperate to watch whatever else she blessed. Her ability to convey a wide range of human emotion is a tremendous skill few can truly touch.

Mrs. Miller (Viola Davis) only had one scene of dialogue and Davis gave script one hundred percent gold.
On this day in 1965, Davis was born in St. Matthews, South Carolina, the fifth of six children. Her mother worked several jobs, was also a Civil Rights activist, going as far as being jailed with young Viola in tow. Overcoming great strife such as wretched hardship, Davis went on to succeed at Rhode Island College and Julliard.

Is it any wonder why she was chosen as Time 100's Most Influential? Viola hasn't only just crafted acting. She has given voice to black Hollywood's unhidden issues.  
Davis is a well-trained theater actress. No doubt. In film and television, her fierce tenacity translates beautifully onscreen. She has worked with some of the best actors and actresses in Hollywood, but brings her own dish to the table. Often at times, outshining her partner. In Fences, she brought it all (sorry Denzel).

How to Get Away With Murder functions from fall season opener, to winter breaker, to spring season finale due to Davis's weekly top notch acting class masterpieces. Davis breathes effortlessly into Annalise Keating. She cries, tears joining with nostril snot. She pulls off her hair pieces and wipes away makeup. Everyone feels her pain and struggle as though fourth wall has been cracked. We just want to offer her hugs and tissues. Annalise is also manipulative, seductive, fiery, smart, and courageous. At times, she can be selfish and selfless. She has significant relationships with men and women. Thanks to this wig popping, heart beat snatching role, Davis is still the first and only black woman to receive the Primetime Emmy for Best Leading Actress in a Drama Series. Weeks ago, she received her third consecutive nomination.

In addition to redefining history, her award win list is miles long. With vast theater expertise, she has won two coveted Drama Desk Awards (including one for two-time Pulitzer Prize winning Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel)  and two Tony Awards. She has five SAG Awards (first for a black actor). In addition to a Golden Globe and a BAFTA, our sis has three AAFCA Awards (African American Film Critics Association), four NAACP Image Awards, three Black Reel Awards, and a BET Award. And this year, she won her first Academy Award after two prior nominations.

Yet Davis shows no signs of stopping. She and her husband have a production company called JuVee Productions which have produced amazing films like Lila and Eve and Custody. They're working on a biography of Barbara Jordan. Plus the digital series American Koko is on its second season.

In Shondaland's hit How to Get Away With Murder, in criminal defense attorney Annalise Keating (Viola Davis), audiences see a powerful, multi-layered dark skinned black woman grace the screens for fifteen suspenseful episodes per season.
Another wonderful, motivating trait about Davis, next to her commendable acting ability and realm into producing black stories, is her advocacy for black women, especially dark skinned women still searching for a pedestal, a right to be deemed acceptable and sexy in this Europeanized society. She bravely includes this notion in almost every awards speech, the need to be seen, to be a desirable character. She talks bluntly about colorism, the paper bag test that will never die, sharing hopes that our stories will continue being complex and honest portrayal of African diaspora. The future deserves a champion like Davis. She eloquently speaks a truth that few dare to bring to light.    

Viola with her much ado Oscar. She is a Grammy win away from EGOT status and there's no doubt that she'll achieve that.

Whether playing an anti-hero or a flawed feminine icon, Davis is here to stay and help move us along.

Four Viola Davis quotes to live by:

"The one thing I feel is lacking in Hollywood today is an understanding of the beauty, the power, the sexuality, the uniqueness, the humor of being a regular Black woman." Essence, 2013

"Vanity destroys your work. That's the one thing you have to let go of as an actor. I don't care how sexy or beautiful any woman is. At the end of the day, she has to take her makeup off. At the end of the day, she's more than just pretty." The New York Times Magazine, 2014

"Every time I look at the [photo of myself as a] little girl, I always thought, Oh, that's a cute outfit.' But she was always hungry, she was always shy, she was always kind of in the background, but inside she had big dreams bursting. And the only thing I could think about is that saying, 'What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly.'" On receiving her Hollywood Walk of Fame Star, 2016

"You know, there's one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered. One place and that's the graveyard. People ask me all the time, what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say, exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost. I became an artist—and thank God I did—because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life...." Oscar Speech, 2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017

'Inamorata' Brilliantly Defines "The Other Woman"

Inamorata film poster.



        a person's female lover

Inamorata made an impressive Philadelphia premiere at Blackstar Film Festival with degreeing touches of surrealistic voodoo bringing haunted vitality to A-lan Holt's supernatural filmmaking debut. The drama stars a rather ubitiquitous triangle, the three individuals irrevocably tangled in a web ignited by one man's treacherous deceit. Betrayal goes beyond cheating when a women's friendship is involved, but sordid messiness is handled with unique twists and turns.

Sabrina Karlsson filters through as a powerful woman who isn't necessarily scorned.

This lush, sensually crafted film opens with a full figured woman with long curly tendrils, endless freckles, and pillowy lips. She unveils cards from her tarot deck, possibly seeing the threads of her future misfortune. She is a devoted girlfriend, mother, yogi, and painter, shifting between these roles, diligent and strong. She articulates fierce words with alluring intelligence and humbleness, employs the screen with poignant camera panning every inch of her rarely depicted flesh.

Her man, however, has a whole other second life, going on dates, stealing bittersweet sentiments, having Kodak glory with another woman. His world is rocked when she says, "I love you." It is obvious, in that moment the confession escapes, that deep emotional connection wasn't rendered fully in him. He cannot reciprocate response. In a way, maybe he is still in love with main character. Yet in this new, seemingly uncomplicated side life, this non heart involving hustle, he finds a missing piece that should have been found in his existing relationship.

The tarot woman discovers the affair. She is crushed. He is guilty, more so frightened. After all, she has alarming power and strength that could potentially be detrimental to his path. Perhaps those reasons rendered him incapable of being faithful, showing his putrid weakness.

Furthermore, the other woman isn't a simpering damsel. She is fiery, dignified, smart. She isn't abstract. She is fully rendered, a near mirror of her yogi friend. This reveals that the man is attracted to a certain type of feminine personality, but it doesn't redeem his error. The other woman finds out (in a horribly contemporary way) that he has a situation and is rightfully peeved.

However, despite great wrongs inflicted upon them by the cake eating cad, both women love him and want to stay committed in a relationship.

The plot thickens like sticky sap goodness straight out of a viciously pumped maple tree. As the other woman instructs yoga, letting out a fired spark, moving and gyrating lithe form to suspenseful music sweeping out from background to foreground, the passionately swift action suddenly pains her back. The allegiance of her exercising sisters comfort her, but there is only one who can heal, the one she didn't mean to hurt.

Writer/director A-lan Holt photographed by Luscombe.

This leads to an amazingly visceral moment of intimacy, an unexpected reaction from one woman to the other.

Inamorata is a remarkable must see short film. Seductive without being overtly erotic, all elements meld beautifully. The cast trio of Sabrina Karlsson, Joel L. Daniels, and Natasha Mmonatau have a refreshing chemistry together-- raw, subdued, authentic. As the narrative is sophisticatedly complex in its layered counterparts, these three actors maneuver through uncharted storms, evoking multifaceted depth using voice and body language. The visuals are immensely beautiful shot artworks, cinematography astounding and breathtaking. Magic dances around rendered script, each scene sparkling with triumph and bravery. The music shifts between serene pleasure and haunting renaissance, playing sharp cords to the surprise tale unfolding.  

This eighteen-minute piece delivers significant, metaphorical messages with its sharp eyed camera direction a Hitchcock meets Butler in a dimly lit alley fashion. One hopes that writer/director A-lan Holt creates more dynamic works to add in her repertoire. Her vision is definitely needed.