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“Judas & The Black Messiah” tells the story of Black Panther Party leader, Fred Hampton, and his downfall thanks largely by Black FBI undercover informant, William O’Neal, played Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield, respectively.

Grade: A+

judas and the black messiah movie poster

Set in the sixties, towards the end of the Civil Rights Movement, the film is a biopic of sorts showing just how intricately the FBI worked with local law enforcement and informants to infiltrate and decimate Black Panther Parties across the country. Fred’s chapter of the Black Panthers was based in Chicago and began to grow in power and popularity, not only with African-Americans, but other minorities and even poor whites. This coalition garners fears of rebellion and miscegenation from law enforcement and powerful federal officials like J. Edgar Hoover.

William O’Neal is a cunning hustler, known to use fake FBI badges to swindle people out of their cars, is given a chance at clemency, if he helps the FBI infiltrate slowly infiltrate Fred’s chapter and keep them one step ahead of the Black Panthers. He quickly rose up the ranks by becoming his driver, using a car, provided to him by his FBI handler. O’Neal reluctantly assists with logistics, secret safe houses, and weapon caches as he ultimately becomes head of the Panthers’ security–a true Judas.

daniel kaluuya as fred hampton in judas and the black messiah

Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton

Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya equally shine in their respective roles. Lakeith yet again proves himself to be a versatile actor, this time taking on the persona of a person most African-Americans would rather forget all together. Every half-smile, or slinking move he makes in the movement gives you the feeling he truly is up to no good and means no good for anyone.

In a recent interview with CNN the actors reunited and discussed their roles. Lakeith spoke on how he was able to develop his character  “Because he was doing secret operations with the FBI, his identity and all the things about him, were not very well known, obviously, at the time,” Stanfield said. “So, I didn’t have a lot to work with, but I had his interview from [the documentary] ‘Eyes on the Prize’ [in which O’Neal appeared] and a couple of court transcripts, as well as a couple of stories of second-hand accounts and views of who he was and what he did.”

Daniel, even as a Black Brit, wholly embodied Fred Hampton’s persona. When you look at historic footage of Fred’s speeches, vernacular, and how he carried himself; you soon realized this is a man Daniel truly studied. “It’s not like I became him, I felt like he was there,” Kaluuya said. “I felt like he was coming through me, like he was in the room.”

The film reminds us of the trauma African-Americans have endured, even while fighting back. However, it more importantly reminds us of an age old saying, “All ‘skinfolk’ ain’t kinfolk.”

You can catch “Judas & The Black Messiah” in theaters and streaming on HBO Max this Friday, February 12th!

Movie News

Warner Bros. Drops Ava DuVernay’s “New Gods” Film from Roster

In a surprising turn of events, Warner Bros. has opted to cancel Ava DuVernay’s “New Gods” film and the Aquaman spinoff movie, “The Trench.”

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ava duvernay new gods movie the trench canceled

In a surprising turn of events, Warner Bros. has opted to cancel Ava DuVernay’s “New Gods” film and the Aquaman spinoff movie, “The Trench.”

new gods

The New Gods

“New Gods” is based off a race of fictional characters of the same name created by Jack Kirby. These “New Gods” are beings from an alternate universe, The Fourth World, dominated by two planets, New Genesis and Apokolips, who are constantly at war. The latter world has a number of heroes and villains who have been both allies and enemies to DC Comics’ superheroes. The New God, Steppenwolf, was the primary antagonist of Joss Whedon and Zack Snyder’s versions of “The Justice League” movie.

As aforementioned, “The Trench” is a spinoff of Warner Bros.’ highly successful “Aquaman” film, set in an area of the Earth’s oceans haunted by Atlanteans who became monsters, warped from their time trapped there for generations. In the Aquaman film it was the place the titular character’s mother, Atlanna, was imprisoned for having him.

ava duvernay aquaman the trench movie canceled

Monsters from “The Trench” in Aquaman

This news comes on the heels of the company going through a complete overhaul of its DC Comics based superhero properties in film, streaming on HBO Max, and its television series on The CW, dubbed the “Arrowverse” (an interconnected series of shows including Arrow, The Flash, Black Lightning, Supergirl, Superman & Lois, Batwoman, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Stargirl).

Warner Bros. and DC Comics released a statement concerning the cancellations, “As part of our DC slate, some legacy  development titles including New Gods and The Trench will not be moving forward. We thank our partners Ava DuVernay, Tom King, James Wan and Peter Safran for their time and collaboration during this process and look forward to our continued partnership with them on other DC stories. The projects will remain in their skillful hands if they were to move forward in the future.”

Ava DuVernay would have been the first African-American woman to lead a superhero film for Warner Bros. and DC Comics. Ava has not released an official statement concerning her film’s cancellation but did tweet the following:

Although Ava will not be doing “New Gods” for the foreseeable future. However, she will still be at the helm of The CW’s latest superhero series, “Naomi,” set to debut this fall.

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Movie Reviews

Lanking Films’ “The Black Love Project” is Black, Bold, & BEAUTIFUL

There are times when we feel like we have seen ten million documentaries that cover the same things when it comes from the Black LGBTQ community of Atlanta. We often wonder what’s new, riveting, or inspiring. (Please not another influencer, “socialite,” or obnoxious reality personality) Well, recently we were afforded a glimpse at something BEAUTIFUL–Lanking Films “The Black Love Project.”

Grade: A+

“The Black Love Project,” created by Lando King, is a documentary showcasing ten Black Gay Couples as they discuss their relationships and love in a candid and vulnerable set of interviews.

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the black love project movie poster

There are times when we feel like we have seen ten million documentaries that cover the same things when it comes from the Black LGBTQ community of Atlanta. We often wonder what’s new, riveting, or inspiring. (Please not another influencer, “socialite,” or obnoxious reality personality) Well, recently we were afforded a glimpse at something BEAUTIFUL–Lanking Films “The Black Love Project.”

Grade: A+

“The Black Love Project,” created by Lando King, is a documentary showcasing ten Black Gay Couples as they discuss their relationships and love in a candid and vulnerable set of interviews.

the black love project

The couples involved range from popular OnlyFans adult content creators to indie artists and fashionistas. The scope of these participants is both noted and interesting.

For us, we have never Ryan “Rah Rah” Kennedy be so open or vulnerable in any relationship, and we were surprised to find Jaydee of Global Bros. is in a relationship. The questions we have concerning the inner workings of the latter are immense and interesting.

However, it is the relationship between Tramel and Kiid Fro we found to be the most relatable. You can tell these two make up for one another’s shortcomings in spirit, emotion, and love while also having a strong, growing, and seemingly unbreakable bond tethering them to one another. There’s is a love at work, we bow in understanding.

The spectrum of Black gay love showcased in this film was inspiring, evoking a type of hope that even the most jaded of hearts has to acknowledge. A screening was shown at Mixx Atlanta Nightclub on Valentine’s Day attended by noteworthy members of Atlanta’s Black LGBT community; Carl Levonzell, LaMarr Allen, Array, and Davien Harlis. 

lando king

Lando King

Kudos to Lando King and everyone in the production of this documentary. When is part two coming? The community needs it. Dare to do and be different guys, it is a great look!

You can click here to view “The Black Love Project”

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Movie Reviews

Zendaya & John David Washington Are Beautifully Toxic in Netflix’s “Malcolm & Marie!”

Netflix’s “Malcolm & Marie,” starring John David Washington and Zendaya, respectively, showcases a young couple in love and toxicity as they navigate the ups and down of their relationship and individual wins and failures.

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malcolm and marie movie poster netflix

Netflix’s “Malcolm & Marie,” starring John David Washington and Zendaya, respectively, showcases a young couple in love and toxicity as they navigate the ups and down of their relationship and individual wins and failures.

Grade: B-

malcolm and marie netflix

The film begins with Malcolm on an emotional high as he returns home from the premiere of his latest film. He is confident that the critics will love it and finally see him as a powerhouse to be respected in Hollywood. His girlfriend, Marie, however, is bothered–and eventually vocal–about Malcolm forgetting to thank her in his acknowledgements at the premiere.

He sees her as selfish and negative. She, in turn, sees him as forgetful and a fraud for not only failing to acknowledge her; but in part using her battle with drug addiction as the story of his film. After a series of arguments and a dialogue that shows a relationship built around codependency and toxicity, you soon realize that the love between this couple is not enough to conquer their respective insecurities and demons.

The film, in black and white, is reminiscent of the simple settings used for many student films and plays recently formatted to film like Fences and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Most of the film is set in Malcolm and Marie’s home or the yard surrounding it. While this is great for a play it tends to bore visual audiences who would love to see more of the world the characters live in. For insance, the two of them discuss a number of characters and instances in their pasts we would have loved to seen. This would have given us a fuller picture of just what kind of damage Malcolm and Marie are dealing with besides their reciprocated emotional abuse.

malcolm and marie netflix

MALCOLM & MARIE (L-R): ZENDAYA as MARIE, JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON as MALCOLM. NETFLIX © 2021

However, this film was shot in under two weeks and created during the height of the pandemic when Hollywood suspended production. Both actors did take a risk by continuing on with this film. Interestingly, the controversy surrounding the film comes from the age gap between John at 36 and Zendaya at 24, which she addressed recently in a BuzzFeed interview. “I’ve played a 16-year-old since I was 16,” she admits, “You have to remember people also grew up with me as a child…It’s like watching, I guess, your younger sibling — now they’re grown, and you’re not ready for it.””It’s hard for people to wrap [their heads] around the idea that I am grown in real life, even though I do play a teenager on television still.” John, however, is unruffled by the age gap backlash, in a recent interview with Variety he states he “wasn’t concerned about it.”

Malcolm & Marie is definitely worth watching, if for no other reason than to learn what NOT to say to your significant other and to see what verbal and emotional abuse look like. You can catch it streaming now on Netflix and in some independent or artistic theaters nationwide.

 

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