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Girlhood Forever

girlhoodgirlsI’ve finally bore witness to Celine Sciamma’s “Girlhood”/”Bande de Filles”, which has been on my mind ever since its release last year. Since then, the film and its director has won awards for Best Cinematography and Best Film, as well as a Special Jury Prize at the 2014 Philadelphia Film Festival and a TVE Another Look Award at the 2014 San Sebastian International Film Festival. “Girlhood”, currently boasting a 95 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is a film that kicked me in the gut straight from its opening scene. The image of young women playing football, which, the last time I checked, is more of a popular sport in America versus France, sets up the score for the rest of the film. Empowered, raw, wild, and free, these group of French girls are looking for something bigger than themselves and the lives that they were born into. The majority of them, including the lead actresses, are also Black, which, as The Independent illustrates, “immediately caused a stir in the French media“. “I was shocked by how Black people were never on screen [in France]…very, very few- even in TV…There are no black actresses famous in France,” Sciamma further expressed. Truth. But, I’m hoping that was “Blue is the Warmest Color” did for Adele Exarchopoulos’ acting career will do the same for Karidja Toure and her fellow castmates, who were splendid as the girl gang of “Girlhood”.

Director Celina Sciamma’s forte is the coming-of-age movie, which is the forte of another movie director whose art I also admire, the late John Hughes. Both highlight the universal angst and everyday reality of children and young adults figuring out themselves while navigating the world around them. Yet, unlike “Pretty in Pink” or “The Breakfast Club’, Sciamma’s “Girlhood” woke up feelings in me that are all too familiar. I’ve never been in a gang, where the premise to survive and boost popularity hinges on physical fights for World Star Hip Hop consumption. I’ve never dropped out of school. But I know what it feels like to want to fit in, to want to feel accepted. Anyone that has gone through the growing pains of adolescence understands this feeling. This is why “Girlhood” wins, if you especially decide to look past race and gender, regardless of the name of the film. There is also a reason that the movie’s cinematography was praised- it’s wondrous! Scenes such as this one renew my faith in the power of film and why I am so passionate about it, even in our Netflix original series-obsessed world:

A vision of ecstasy indeed.

It’s painful to watch Marieme/Vic, “Girlhood’s” protagonist, maneuver life in a French housing project with a non-existent, overworked mother, an abusive brother, and no hope for a future as anything but a teen mom. I remember feeling a sense of relief mixed with apprehension during the moment she first meets new friends Lady, Adiatou, and Fily. You know where these relationships may end up going, but Marieme is in need of friends to lean on. So she go ahead with hew new life as “Vic” and you keep watching, hoping that things get better for all of the girls in “Girlhood”.

By the end of “Girlhood” you think you know how this story will play out. But, Sciamma and her band of girls refuse to give a satisfying finish. A visually fantastic and beautiful end, yes. But, like life, especially as a Black girl, the pains of growing up are not simple, easy, or clear. Still, they are more than worthy of being recognized.

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This Movie, Its Director, This Picture Screams OSCAR

I look at Jack O’Connell in this photo and my heart swells. I’ve watched him go from Cook in “Skins” to now starring in an Angelina Jolie directed film, which looks and sounds spectacular, judging from its several trailers. If he scores an Oscar nom for his performance in this movie, I will be immensely proud. I don’t have to personally know him to feel this way. He reps for the underdogs and I’m down for his journey and continuous success 100%.

In fact, let me raise a toast to EVERYONE in this picture, because I remember Garrett Hedlund in “Death Sentence” with a shaved head giving a scary performance that was so realistic and powerful still to this day to think about. I’m quietly tracking how hard Jai Courtney is working, booking roles alongside Bruce Willis and Rosamund Pike. I see all of you choosing interesting roles, not all commercial, making smart choices and working. As a human being and actor, I say keep going forward and killin’ it, but try not to leave too many casualties in your wake.

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  Photo Credit: Jason Bell for Vanity Fair Magazine

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Movie Trailer of the Week: “Unbroken”

Some time ago I mentioned how excited I was to see Jack O’Connell star in Angelina Jolie’s next directorial project, “Unbroken”.  His final turn as Cook in Skins Rise (the UK version) reminded me just had much he had grown as an actor and how tremendous his talents are. Now looking at this preview trailer for Jolie’s film, I can easily see just how much higher O’Connell’s star is set to ascend:

 

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Lupita Nyong’o Covers NY Mag And Still Remains Grounded

The latest cover of New York Magazine featuring actress Lupita Nyong’o looks heavenly! In it, she talks about her present success after having starred in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (A MUST SEE) and speaks about her new “swollen life”. “There are so many highlights that are no longer highlights,” the thespian states. So far, I’ve noted how level-headed and gracious Lupita seems now that everyone in Hollywood wants a piece of her. I have no doubt that this attitude will fall to the wayside to usher in a Tinseltown-created fame monster. Maybe I will just call her Lovely Lupita from now on. She sure seems to be that way!

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Ladies & Gentlemen, This Year’s Vanity Fair Hollywood Cover Is Magical

Listen, I love to read Vanity Fair articles. It’s at the forefront of intelligent and insightful journalism and a leader in discovering the next and now. But, I only buy Vanity Fair if more than one article truly speaks to me and if the cover is a golden ticket winner. This month’s Hollywood issue cover transcends both criteria:

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(click to enlarge)

Let me just first point out that I don’t recall, in my lifetime thus far, ever seeing this many fine Black actors and actresses on the cover of any magazine from any country. To see Lupita Nyong’o, Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Chadwick Boseman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Michael B. Jordan on this year’s cover makes me want to cry. This is ground-breaking, motivating, and beautiful.

Secondly, I co-sign with every single person’s presence on this cover. I mean, Brie Larson is on the cover of Vanity Fair alongside Julia Roberts and Jared Leto. She may look like a fresh face, but Larson has been a working actress since she was a child. If you look at her IMDB page, your eyes will pop out of your head because, like myself, you may just find yourself saying out loud, “She was in that?!” Also, she is a splendid singer. Never forget:

Then you have Margot Robbie and Lea Seydoux who are both BOSS and George Clooney in the mix, arms crossed, looking at us as if to say, “Yes, this is the next generation and I approve.” Julia Roberts is just being Julia, loving life in Idris’ lap. Who wouldn’t?!

I haven’t been this excited and transfixed by a Vanity Fair cover since 2009, when this bad boy came out:

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Ahhh, sweet memories…

But, this month’s Hollywood VF issue is just simply…

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Respect must be given to Vanity Fair at this moment. I will be off to pick up my copy. It’s on newsstands and in drugstores today!