“Dolemite is My Name” (2019)

Click to watch a trailer with so much energy it’ll make you want to watch the movie now. (Warning: Cursing in the trailer.)

In 2017, the online magazine Very Smart Brothas listed their Top 10 Blackest Moments of the Year. Their Number 7 was my Number 1. A brother had converted a file cabinet into a barbecue pit. It was far and away by a hundred country miles easily the blackest thing I’d seen in 2017. (Warning: cursing in the video below. It’s hilarious though.)

In 2018, “Black Panther” was the clear blackest winner of the year. I don’t need to explain why. Watch it and understand.

“Dolemite is My Name” is the winner of Number 1 Blackest Thing I’ve Seen in 2019. It’s a Netflix original movie about comedian Rudy Ray Moore aka “Dolemite.” Why is it my Number 1? Because the foundation of Moore’s humor is African-American folklore. Yes, his humor was X-rated. Imagine if Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx had a baby. The dirtiness and cursing was part of Moore’s appeal.

Moore’s comedy was rooted in The Dozens, a game of spoken words between two contestants, common in black communities of the United States, where participants insult each other until one gives up. It is customary for the Dozens to be played in front of an audience of bystanders, who encourage the participants to reply with increasingly egregious insults in order to heighten the tension and, consequently, make the contest more interesting to watch. –per Wikipedia. (Growing up in Detroit, Michigan, we called it “joning.”)

Moore’s Dolemite persona was so dirty, no one would record his comedy albums. He recorded his first three albums in his apartment in front of an invited audience.

No one would promote his comedy albums nor play them on the radio, so he distributed them himself.

Nobody would finance his first movie, “Dolemite,” so he did it himself with $100,000. The movie made $10,000,000 and was one of the top grossing movies of 1975. Moore made seven more movies.

Rudy Ray Moore’s popularity was contained within the black community. With his unique rhythm, rhyme and persona, he is considered the Godfather of Rap. Moore died a multi-millionaire in 2008 at the age of 81.

Enter Eddie Murphy. He always wanted to produce and star in a movie about Moore, which no one wanted to make because they (read: studio executives) had never heard of Moore. Enter Netflix.

Murphy and Netflix are a marriage made in Heaven. This movie is fantastic! Finally! A movie worthy of Eddie Murphy! A brother is on top of his game. Watch the trailer and you’ll see what I’m saying. A larger than life comedian needed to play another larger than life comedian. It’s clear that Murphy was having the time of his life. I hope he gets award nominations for this role.

“Dolemite is My Name” starts in 1970 when Moore was a struggling showman working at a record store and ends at the premiere of his first movie in 1975. To watch the rise and continued rise of Rudy Ray Moore is wonderful. I wrote that its the blackest thing I’ve seen this year. It’s also a uniquely American tale of never giving up on your dreams. Moore had been in the entertainment business since 1955. To see this brother succeed, against all odds, was heartwarming.

And it’s hilarious! This is Eddie Murphy, y’all! The supporting cast are Mike Epps, Titus Burgess, Craig Robinson, Da’vine Joy Rudolph, Keegan-Michael Key, T.I., Wesley Snipes, Snoop Dogg, Chris Rock, and Emmy winner Ron Cephas Jones (This is Us). Ruth E. Carter, legendary costumer designer and Oscar winner for her costumes for “Black Panther,” created the costumes for this movie. Her designs are fantastic and she deserves some nominations too.

Rudy Ray Moore once said: “I wasn’t saying dirty words just to say them… It was a form of art, sketches in which I developed ghetto characters who cursed. I don’t want to be referred to as a dirty old man, rather a ghetto expressionist.” Moore influenced countless rappers and comedians. “Dolemite is My Name” is a worthy homage to Moore and a comeback for Eddie Murphy.

I loved it. 10 out of 10 Mocha Angels.

Up next on Holistic Saturdays: An update to my “no watching TV nor internet surfing while eating.” Saturday, November 30.

“See You Yesterday” (2019)

Click to watch.

INT – Classroom. Day. Last Day of High School.

Mr. Lockhart: “Let me ask you a question. Why are you participating in the (science) expo?”

CJ: “Full rides to MIT..hello?! Oh, and Sebastian wants to go to Morehouse…scholarships…”

Mr. Lockhart: “You and Mr. Thomas are the smartest kids in this school. Don’t tell him I said that. But you’re missing the big picture here. If time travel were possible, it would be the biggest philosophical and ethical conundrum of the modern age. If you had that kind of power, what would you do? What would you change?”

CJ: :::silence:::

And those are the two questions at the center of the Netflix movie “See You Yesterday.” Best friends CJ and Sebastian create backpacks that enable time travel. When CJ’s brother Calvin is killed by the Brooklyn police in a case of mistaken identity, the teenagers use their time travel ability in a desperate attempt to save Calvin’s life.

What could go wrong? Everything.

That kind of power in the hands of a grieving, hot-headed teenager, no matter how brilliant she is, causes chaos. Different people start to die and suffer because CJ and Sebastian are trying to change time and space. I don’t want to give anything away, but this movie makes you think: What would I do? What would I change?

As happy as I was to see black teenagers depicted this way, my heart ached for the “big picture” problem. CJ can’t even enjoy her and Sebastian’s invention. You know the first and only time I saw a genius black young woman celebrate her inventions and brilliance? Shuri, in “Black Panther.” Wakanda is a fictional hidden land of Africans who can be their full selves without interference. It’s black folks minus colonialism, slavery, and racism. Back in Brooklyn, New York, however, black lives don’t matter. CJ, Sebastian, their families, and their community both pay the price for living in that harsh reality.

“See You Yesterday” is so good in every way, except for the ending. It’s thoughtful, beautifully filmed, current, and relevant. I recommend it highly. It has a Rotten Tomatoes critics score of 93% and an audience score of 30%. I call bullshit. That’s racism pure and simple. People will argue the controversial non-ending is why audiences didn’t like the movie. I don’t buy that. “See You Yesterday” has a social urgency that makes people uncomfortable.

How would I have ended the movie? In the garage where the kids invented the time travel backpacks. I’d have had Sebastian destroy the last time travel backpack in order to save CJ from herself. Watch it and decide how you think the movie should have ended.

An enthusiastic Eight out Ten Mocha Angels.

Up next: Vegan Deli Bowls with Smashed Chickpea Salad (V, GF). Saturday, November 16.

“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.


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)