“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

Update: My review of A Little Late with Lilly Singh is here.

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)