“Period. End of Sentence.” (2018)

Click to watch Period End of Sentence on Netflix.

Period. End of Sentence. is the 2019 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Short.
Photo courtesy Netflix.

When a girl gets her period in the United States, she may miss a class.When a girl gets her period in a developing country, she may never go to school again. A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education.The Pad Project, the major force behind the documentary.

Ninety percent of women in India do not have access to menstrual pads. They use whatever cloths, leaves, or ash they can find. They do not have access to consistent electricity, nor clean well-lit bathrooms that are safe for women. For this reason, middle school age girls have no safe place to change their cloths. Therefore, they drop out of school. Their situation is overwhelming and dire. Due to the short 25-minute length of the documentary, Period. End of Sentence. (known as PEoS from now on) focuses on a group of Indian women empowering themselves and their community through better access to menstrual hygiene products.

Set in Kathikhera, about 37 miles outside of India’s capital of New Delhi, PEoS sets up from the beginning the taboo around menstruation. Men have no idea what it is. “An illness only girls get?” Girls and women are pained and embarrassed to talk about it. “Only God knows why” women have periods, one woman says. “It has something to do with babies,” another mom says. Sneba, one of the documentary’s subjects says, “We are told women’s prayers are not heard during menstruation, no matter how hard they may pray. They say we are dirty.”

Click to watch the trailer for PEoS.

According to Access Bollywood:

“Feminine hygiene has been a popular film subject in India for several years, starting with Menstrual Man, the 2013 documentary about Arunchalam Muruganatham, inventor of a low-cost machine for making sanitary pads. Muruganatham then inspired two fictional Hindi films: 2017’s Phullu and 2018’s Pad Man, starring Akshay Kumar. Kumar’s 2017 movie Toilet: Ek Prem Katha also addressed the related need for clean, safe bathroom facilities for women in rural India.”

Muruganatham’s low-cost machine comes to Kathikhera. It’s purpose is four-fold: to bring menstrual pads to the girls and women; to teach women a skill, which is learning to manufacture menstrual pads; to allow them to earn money; and to offer women economic empowerment. All of these give women something I take for granted, freedom of movement.

Access Bollywood also said this documentary is a good introduction to the menstruation situation in India. I agree. I was flabbergasted and shocked by what I saw. I felt like a privileged rich woman watching PEoS, and I am not (yet). I am so glad this documentary won an Oscar. It’s the reason why I know about PeoS in the first place.

I decided to donate to The Pad Project because its doing important work across the globe, and in the United States. The women of Kathikhera kick ass. I wish them safety, self-empowerment, and economic freedom.


Click to watch the clip from the 91st annual Academy Awards.
Producer Melissa Berton and director Rayka Zehtabchi  accept their Oscar.
Guneet Monga served as Executive Producer (The Lunchbox, Masaan).

Ten out of Ten Mocha Angels on the subject matter. Eight out of Ten Mocha Angels for the soaring, feel good ending that doesn’t match reality. Everyone should see it.


This is Us (NBC): Looks Like We Made It

This is Us. Season 3, Episode 18. “Her.” Season Finale.


Photo: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

…And a little child shall lead them.

Thanks to Deja, their foster daughter, Randall and Beth did not get a divorce. Deja took Randall to one of her former foster homes. She shared with him that the couple who were supposed to care for her and other foster children spent their government stipend on lottery scratch-offs rather than the kids, leaving the kids hungry.

Deja said, “Nobody won in that house. Most people don’t win, Randall, but you did. You won the lottery twice. Once when you got adopted and again when you met Beth.”  She told Randall to get it together and fix his marriage. “You owe it to the world that let you win the lottery twice.”

From there, Randall decides to resign from City Council without knowing Beth has traveled to Philadelphia. She decided to move the family from New Jersey to Philly so Randall can remain a councilman there. She is going to open a dance studio that trains aspiring professionals rather than adults. Both get what they want.

Cue the Barry Manilow. They did it.
Photo: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Fast forward to the future, it’s clear this is going to be a “’til death do us part” marriage. I was so relieved. R&B found their rhythm.

On another note, Tess is trying to find her way as a newly out gay teenage girl. That is going to be an interesting story line over the next three years of This is Us. Creator Dan Fogelman says the show is at it’s “midway point” and will last a total of six seasons.

The first two seasons were great. Overall, Season Three was uneven.

The three best episodes of Season Three were:

Our Little Island Girl. This was the all-Beth episode I wrote about. Susan Kelechi Watson deserves an Emmy nomination for it.

Songbird Road, Part 1. We find out what happened to Jack’s brother Nicky in Vietnam. This was a beautifully written and heartbreaking episode about a man still broken, alcoholic, and suffering from PTSD fifty years after he was sent home from the war. For Nicky, the war is not over.

Her. In the last five minutes of the season finale, set fifteen to twenty years in the future, we see that “her” is Rebecca on her deathbed. Her whole family is there to say goodbye. Kevin has a son. And Nicky has rejoined the Pearson family. That was a “whoa!!!” moment. That is how you end a season.

Seven out of Ten Mocha Angels for This is Us, Season Three.

Up next:

Period. End of Sentence (Netflix). 2018 Academy Award Winner for Best Documentary Short. Saturday, April 6

Inside Issa Rae Productions (YouTube). Wednesday, April 10.

Little (2019). Friday, April 12. (BONUS post!)

Mocha Angels publishes every Wednesday and Saturday. Click “follow” in the bottom right hand corner to get my reviews and commentary delivered to your email. Thank you for supporting my work. (((Hugs)))

“The Big Chop” (2018)

@IssaRaePresents #ShortFilmSundays – a new short by a new creator, the first Sunday of every month on YouTube.

If you are a husband or boyfriend of a black woman, don’t talk about her hair. Always say that her hair looks nice, even if it looks like tumbleweed, a mop, or a horse’s tail. Hair is a very emotional topic to black women.

Exhibit A: a scene from Derek Dow’s short 16-minute film “The Big Chop.”

Kris (Simone Missick, of Luke Cage fame) just made “the big chop.” She has cut off all her long relaxed hair, and she is WAY past emotional. Mascara running. Afro covered with a hoodie. Homegirl is the definition of a hot mess. She demands that her man Thomas (Chinedu Unaka) buy her some hair.

Thomas: “Let it go. Leave that in the past. Start looking at the future.”

Kris: (Snatches down her hood. Points at her hair.) “I look like a freed slave!”

Thomas: “I don’t even know what hair to get.”

Kris: “Get me the “Rhionce.”

Thomas: “The what?”

Kris: “It’s a new hair line. It’s got Rhianna and Beyonce all in the same pack.”

This is Us. Black Woman Style.

Which is why “The Big Chop” was so funny and relatable.

Click to watch this great movie.
To watch on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFiDQdpll2w

Ten-year-old Kris (McKenzie Franklin) loves her natural hair. Her mom, however, does not. Dorothy (Kashuna Perfected) has no idea what to do with it. When she was painfully combing Kris’s hair, I said to myself, “Where is the Sulfur 8 and the Ultra Sheen? That child’s hair needs a detangler!” Kris hates getting her hair combed but loves the natural wild look. So does her best friend Thomas (Kevin Kilumbu).

Two mean girls at the park don’t like Kris’ hair. They say ugly things to Kris, hurting her feelings. Eventually Kris gets a perm, making her mother very happy. 

Fast forward to Kris and Thomas as an adult couple. Thomas is trying his best to comfort his lady, but nothing is working. While Thomas is buying her some new hair, Kris sees a woman berating her natural headed granddaughter. “You look like Jaden Smith!” Grandma says. Kris intervenes because she sees herself in that little girl.

In the end, Kris falls back in love with her natural hair.

I LOVED, LOVED this movie. It’s wonderfully hilarious. And it’s a love story. I’ve already watched it twice and will watch it again. Props to screenwriter Alisha Cowan and director Derek Dow.

An enthusiastic Ten out of Ten Mocha Angels.

Up next:

This is Us (NBC).Wednesday, April 3rd.

Academy Award winner Period. End of Sentence. (Netflix). Saturday, April 6th.

Mocha Angels publishes every Wednesday and Saturday. Click “follow” in the bottom right hand corner to get my reviews and commentary delivered to your email. Thank you for supporting my work. (((Hugs)))

This is Us (NBC): The End of R&B?

This is Us. Season 3: Episode 17, “R&B.”

Last night, Randall and Beth had no rhythm and were mired in blues.


Photo: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Their 20-year relationship had been deteriorating for months. Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) had told Randall (Sterling K. Brown) she no longer supported his run for city councilman. He continued anyway, then he won. Beth decided to become a dance teacher, after being laid off from her high paying job. In the midst, they have two daughters, a pre-teen, a teenager who recently came out of the closet as well as a foster daughter struggling to find her way. Add on the new financial pressures, the marriage is collapsing under the strain.

It turns out, as Beth said, “We’ve been having the same fight since we met.” The same fight is that Randall always gets his way. He overwhelms her with big ideas (“Let’s move in my birth father whom I met today!” “Let’s adopt a child!” “Let’s move in my wealthy TV star alcoholic brother who then drives drunk with one our kids in the car!” “I want to run for city councilman in my late father’s district that’s two hours away!”) Beth bends and capitulates to Randall every single time. She feels like there is no space for her inside the marriage.


Photo: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Last night’s episode showed how small incidents in a marriage turn into big resentments. Beth is rightfully angry about how Randall sweet talks his way into whatever he wants to do. Like when he convinces her she doesn’t need a break from care taking their extended family. She is also complicit because she continuously caves in. On their disastrous first date in college, Beth said she didn’t want to be swallowed up inside a relationship. Guess what. Sometimes what we fear the most comes true.

Beth is not having it anymore. It’s Randall’s turn to bend, or the marriage will break.

Caving in time is over.

Next week we’ll see what decisions the Pearsons make in the Season Finale. I’ll be watching. Thank you @ Kay Oyegun for writing an insightful hour of television.

Up next: The short film “The Big Chop” (YouTube). Saturday, March 30th.

Mocha Angels publishes every Wednesday and Saturday. Click “follow” in the bottom right hand corner to get my reviews and commentary delivered to your email. Thank you for supporting my work. (((Hugs)))

“Us” (2019)

Pogo daily strip from Earth Day 1971. The famous quote “We have met the enemy and he is us,” is most applicable to the movie “Us.”

Jordan Peele’s Us taps into our deepest fears. Fear of losing our children. Fear of death. Fear of annihilation. Fear of other people. Fear that our addictions, vices, and demons will overtake us. And in this movie, all of that pretty much happens.

In 1986, a young Adelaide (Madison Curry) has a terrifying experience at a Santa Cruz beach, which haunts her for life. Fast forward to the present day. While vacationing at her family’s summer home, that singular terror comes back to haunt adult Adelaide
(Lupita Nyong’o) in a murderous way.

Doppelgängers of herself, her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph), and son Jason (Evan Alex), show up in their driveway wearing red jumpsuits and gold scissors. What follows is two hours of terror. Not only is this family fighting for their lives against their shadowy selves, everyone else around them is getting killed by their own doppelgängers. Hmmm.

Rather than giving away the plot of this excellent film, or deconstructing the minutia of it like everyone else on the internet, I offer my interpretation and what I loved about Us.

Click to watch the trailer. And no, it doesn’t reveal too much. Go see the movie!!
Courtesy Universal Studios/YouTube

Interpretation

Fear of the “other,” other races, genders, religions, languages has led to violence for millennia. Fear of the other is what leads to black folks having the cops called on them while they take out their garbage, throw parties, walk a disabled client down the street, or leave an AirBnB (all real examples in the United States). Jordan Peele says, “Oh, no you don’t. While one finger is pointing at another person, four fingers are pointing at yourself.”

I have been saying for decades that self-analysis is the most painful process a human being can endure. Looking at your own shit, the mistakes you’ve made, how you’ve treated people, the havoc you have wreaked, is wicked difficult. Yet it is necessary for your salvation, however you define it. I define salvation as growing up and taking responsibility for your life and actions, freeing yourself from your past. In Us, the dark parts of ourselves rise up, literally, to destroy us. Self-destruction is what happens when the darkness inside is not healed.


Lupita Nyong’o in dual roles as Red and Adelaide Wilson in Us.
Universal Studios/Everett Collection

What I loved about Us

  • Lupita Nyong’o is a goddess and deserves all the award nominations coming her way. This is the meatiest role she’s had since Patsey in 12 Years a Slave, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
  • Winston Duke, who I fell in love with in Black Panther, is perfect as her husband and plays the clueless dad to the tee.
  • Madison Curry (young Adelaide) gives an amazing performance.
  • A dark-skinned family is the lead in a major Hollywood movie. #first #blacklove
  • Turning a trope on its head, the black people don’t get killed off early in the movie. #itsaboutdamntime
  • Yes, Virginia. Black people do indeed have summer homes.
  • It’s not only terrifying. Us has moments of comedy.
  • I put my comfy recliner down to sit on the literal edge of my seat the ENTIRE time. I have never done that for any movie, ever.
  • I must see this movie again. Us had twists, turns, and subtleties that I missed. Like The Sixth Sense, I was like, “OH, SNAP!!” at the end. All of you are going to want to see it a second time.
  • Jordan Peele turned “I Got 5 On It” into a horror movie score. That is some genius shit.
Courtesy Real Hip Hop/YouTube
Click to watch the music video for “I Got 5 On It.”

Us gets an enthusiastic Ten out of Ten Mocha Angels. Super good.

Please comment, like my post, and subscribe to my blog. It’s a passion project.

Up next: This is Us (NBC): The end of Randall and Beth? Wednesday, March 27th.

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (Netflix)

TIDYING UP WITH MARIE KONDO

At the beginning of the first episode of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, Ryan, a toddler who’d never met Marie, practically jumped into her arms. Ryan said, “I want to hug you.” She let Marie hold her like they go way back!

I was stunned because a toddler doesn’t do that. She doesn’t reach for a perfect stranger who just walked through her front door. And certainly not while being held in her mother’s arms. I said to myself, “Marie Kondo is something special.”

And she is. After binge watching all eight episodes of Tidying Up I bought two of Marie Kondo’s books, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up,” and “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up.” I will be getting “The Life Changing Magna of Tidying Up: A Magical Story.”

Official trailer for Tidying Up with Marie Kondo
Courtesy YouTube/Netflix

I’m already a minimalist. I did a massive decluttering the first half of 2018. What I am not is organized. And not being organized creates clutter and chaos, which gets on my last good nerve.

Netflix released Tidying Up on January 1, 2019. Marie, and her translator, help families in different stages in life declutter their homes.

  • A couple with two toddlers
  • An empty-nester couple
  • A couple with two preteens who downsized from a 4-bedroom house to a 2-bedroom apartment
  • A widow who had been married for 40 years
  • A twentysomething couple who are transitioning from college life to adulthood
  • A couple with two toddlers who want to have a third baby
  • A couple expecting their first child
  • A couple newly married merging two households

What they all have in common is:

  • They have too much stuff in their house (and garage)
  • They feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start decluttering
  • They have trouble letting go off their stuff
  • Their quality of life is being affected
  • They are having communication issues

Alishia had a hard time getting rid of her clothes. (Episode 8: When Two (Messes) become One.)

The communication issues between couples varied from resentment of who’s doing the household duties, to one person being more challenged by decluttering than the other, to what to keep (“we have to keep this ‘just in case’’ which is the death knell of tidyness).

The KonMari Method ™ is simple in theory. Tidy by category. Clothes first. Then books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and finally sentimental items. Keep the things that “spark joy.” In other words, keep the items you love. For the items you let go of, thank them for their service, then let them go. In the end, your home is full of only things you love. In practice, it’s a lot harder. I know because I started the process last week.

The show only touches on the KonMari Method of organizing. She has very specific ways of folding everything from underwear to hoodies. Buy her books because they are necessary to truly declutter and organize your home.

Wendy had a terrible time getting rid of her clothes. Yikes. (Episode 2: Empty Nesters)

Once you finish the first season, watch the “Where Are They Now?” clips to see if the families kept their homes organized.

I love this show that inspired me to organize my home the KonMari way. I will let you all know how the process is going.

Ten out of Ten Mocha Angels.

https://konmari.com/

Up next: “Us” (2019)

One Day at a Time (Netflix)

Watch it. Watch it right now.


(Ali Goldstein/Netflix)

After three seasons, Netflix is not renewing the Latinx-themed reboot of Norman Lear’s iconic sitcom One Day at a Time. Who knows when the last day of the show will air. It is being shopped around, but who knows what will happen. Watch it now, or at least, click on the “thumbs up” icon at the bottom left of the screen on all Netflix productions.

Click to watch the trailer for Season 3.

The reboot features a Cuban-American family. Single mom Penelope Alvarez (Justina Machado) is also an Army veteran and nurse. She is raising her two teenage children Elena (Isabella Gomez) and Alex (Marcel Ruiz), with the help of her live-in mother Lydia (the incomparable Rita Moreno, who is 87 years old and still dances like a dream). And this time around, Schneider (Todd Grinnell) is a man-boy undocumented immigrant from Canada (no kidding).

At 96-years-old (!) Norman Lear is one of the Executive Producers. If you are old enough to remember any of his other 1970s shows, like All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude, Sanford and Son, and Good Times, then you know Lear never met a social/cultural issue he didn’t like. Every one of those television shows were in-your-face about racism, classism, feminism, war, abortion, and religion, and other controversial issues. (Remember the “Black Jesus” episode on Good Times?)

One Day at a Time brings more of the same. It’s a funny, unflinching, in-your-face comedy that deals with immigration, the trans-military ban, pay inequality, homosexuality, depression, dating in a swipe left/swipe right era, mental health issues,
veteran suicides, and every other hot-button issue of the day.

Penelope is a blend of James Evans and Maude Findlay. No one is confused about who is running the Alvarez household. She’s also feminine, loud, hilarious, stressed, tough, depressed, tired, big-hearted and kind. Sounds like most moms I know.

Elena and Alex are so great as teenagers struggling to find their identity. My own kids, also teenagers, like the show because they see themselves in Elena and Alex.


(Ali Goldstein/Netflix)

And Lydia…… Let me say Rita Moreno is #AgingGoals. She is witty, quick, agile, sexy, funny, theatrical, and wise. God, please let me be her at 87. Lydia is the glue holding the family together. Without her, Penelope would be having a much harder time in life. And she’s very, very Cuban. Lydia is not trying to assimilate. She speaks Spanglish: A blend of Spanish and English. A devout Catholic, Lydia is not changing for anybody.


(Ali Goldstein/Netflix)

According to Deadline.com, One Day At a Time has been an important milestone for representation, bringing back the Latinx family sitcom genre as the first Latinx-themed series on Netflix. Over the past year, Netflix has greenlit three series focused on U.S. Latinx stories including Mr. Iglesias, Gentefied and Selena: The Series about Mexican-American Tejano singer Selena.

I truly enjoy this situation comedy. It’s relatable and laugh out loud funny. I hope it finds a new television home.

Oh, and I dance the Cha-Cha-Cha everytime I hear the Gloria Estefan-sung theme song. It’s gold.

Eight out of Ten Mocha Angels.

Up next: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (Netflix)

Lilly Singh is Making History

NBC.com

Thank you, Ganesh, Shiva, Het-Heru, and Diana. Lilly Singh is getting her own late-night talk show, A Little Late with Lilly Singh, on NBC this fall.

Why? You say? Who? You say?

Here’s why she’s getting a talk show:

Between her two channels, IISuperwomanII and Superwoman Vlogs, she’s got nearly 17 million subscribers and almost 3,500,000,000 views. That’s three BILLION 500 MILLION views. Her first book, How to be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life became a Number One New York Times Bestseller. In 2017 she was ranked tenth on the Forbes list of the world’s highest paid YouTube stars, earning an estimated $10.5 million dollars.

Singh is a 30-year-old Indian-Canadian, openly bisexual, You Tube superstar comedienne. Those adjectives had me thanking Hindu, Khemetic, and Roman gods and goddesses. Ganesh is the remover of obstacles. Shiva is the transformer. Het-Heru is the goddess of beauty and love. Diana is the goddess of the moon. Lilly Singh has knocked down a massive door, is transforming late night TV, is beautiful, hilarious, and of course, a woman.

Only two other women currently have late night talk shows: Busy Tonight with Busy Phillips on E! and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS. Unfortunately, the too-funny Late Night with Robin Thede was canceled by BET last summer, or we’d have three women hosting late night shows.

I will be watching Late Night with Lilly Singh to support her transition from YouTube to broadcast television. I am cheering for her and wishing for her long-term success on NBC.

Below is one of my favorite Lilly Singh videos.



Up next: One Day At a Time (Netflix)

Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story (PBS)

“I would have to find out, what was the word that the religion of Jesus says to the man with his back against the wall?” – Howard Thurman

The one-hour documentary Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story details the life of the man who became the spiritual backbone of the American Civil Rights Movement.

I watched it because I honestly hadn’t heard of him until a few weeks ago. My parents did a most excellent job of teaching me black history when I was growing up. This giant of a man, we missed. (Or maybe, I missed!)

Howard Thurman (1899-1981) was born in West Palm Beach, Florida. As a child, he connected with God through quiet times in nature. A tree, he said, was his best friend. He also developed his Christian faith through his family, especially his grandmother, who had been a slave.

Thurman graduated from high school at a time when there were only three high schools for African-Americans in the state of Florida. He went on to graduate from Morehouse College (he was classmates with Martin Luther King Sr.), and was ordained a Baptist minister while he was still in theological school. Although Baptist, Thurman’s approach to Christianity was not limited to one denomination.

In 1944, Thurman co-founded the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples. One of the first interracial churches in the country, this was incredibly radical at the time. Even more radical, worship wasn’t only sermon and song. It also included contemporary dance and meditation outdoors.

His non-traditional approach to Christianity was further cultivated by his studies with Quaker mystic and philosopher, Rufus Jones, as well as the time he spent with Mahatma Ghandi in India. Thurman saw the caste system and British minority rule over millions of people up close. The similar struggle of Indians and African-Americans only strengthened Thurman’s belief that non-violent resistance was the right approach to end their collective disenfranchisement.

Thurman was Dean of Chapel at both Howard University and Boston University. He was highly influential over civic and spiritual leaders in the mid-20th century. He wrote twenty books, the most well-known being Jesus and the Disinherited (1949.) In the book, Thurman interprets the teachings of Jesus through the experience of poor and oppressed people and offers nonviolent responses to the oppression. Jesus and the Disinherited was the book Martin Luther King Jr. was reading during the Montgomery Bus boycott. “What does Jesus have to say to the man whose back is against the wall?” That book became the “bible” of the Civil Rights Movement.

This documentary is fascinating. It left me wanting to learn more about Howard Thurman. Him being called a “mystic” is most interesting.
He practiced what is now called a “contemplative spirituality.” Thurman simply believed in a direct experience or connection to God. An intermediary, like a minister, isn’t necessary. People can feel, talk to, love, experience, or worship God in a variety of ways. Thurman was not interested in saving souls. He focused on people moving through life as fully realized human beings.

Thurman’s reach was long and wide. We all benefited from his life and teachings. Watch the one-hour documentary here on MPT.tv. Also, Journey Films, the company behind the documentary, has more information on screenings and events.

Backs Against the Wall gets ten out of ten Mocha Angels.

Oprah quotes Howard Thurman at 24:31.

Up Next: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (Netflix)