The Afterthought – Wonder Woman Film Review

Wonder Woman (2017) Image by Clay Enos
Photo Credit – Clay Enos

 

The Afterthought – Reel Focus blogger’s initial reaction to a new television show, new film release or television show season premiere.

 

The 2017 summer movie season has seen its fair share of disappointments where the box office is concerned. Fate of the Furious broke records during opening weekend, but after that, the ratings plummeted and set the tone for what seemed to be a season of massive flops. King Arthur, Baywatch, and The Mummy all – one after the other all crashed and burned at the box office.

Then came along advertisements for the one movie I and a host of other moviegoers had been looking forward to:  Wonder Woman.  I’m sure after the domino effect of movie flops this season, moviegoers were a bit apprehensive about this one.  But after its release on June 2nd, it still continues to break box office even over a month later after its release.

This action adventure directed by Patty Jenkins is a phenomenon that has left a lot of studio executives marveling and scratching their heads at the same time. Why has Wonder Woman succeeded when these other films this season have not? Why did this film work both critically and among the fans when Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad left moviegoers with a sour taste in their mouths?

As a writer, I believe that one reason this film worked so well is because the script was well-written and easy to follow, not to mention the quality acting and directing. With all of these things working in sync, I pose a better question “How could it have not succeeded?”

My Synopsis of the Film

My overall opinion of Wonder Woman is that it surpassed any and all expectations I had. The script had me entangled in its web from beginning to end thanks to Jenkins direction and Gadot and Pine’s chemistry. It is undeniable from the jump that DC is trying desperately to make up for the debacle of  Batman v Superman and the critical failure of Suicide Squad by taking a serious look at their movie roster and the improvements needed to compete with the juggernaut that is Marvel.

 

The Afterthought – My Take on the Film

Hiring a female director with an excellent track record was a smart move. Patty Jenkins, an award – winning director from the film (Monster) and television (The Killing) was chosen to bring the story of the Amazonian superhero to the big screen. Deborah Snyder, one of the producers of Wonder Woman said it would not have felt right to have a man direct the long- awaited film about the Amazon superhero and that along with Jenkins’ passion for the project placed her as the front-runner.

 

Finding the right person to embody the heroine was also of vital importance. Gal Gadot who is best known for her role as Gisele in The Fast and Furious franchise plays the role of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman with the perfect mix of vulnerability and badassness that has earned her well – deserved accolades from critics and the fan base. Casting Chris Pine as her love interest, Steve Trevor was a coup as well since he’s proven himself to be a credible movie star in films like Hell or High Water and the Star Trek franchise.

 

Wonder Woman has been on Jenkins radar for years. She first pitched her idea of an origin story to the studio back in 2010 but was rebuffed in favor of another female director. When that director and the studio clashed due to “creative differences,” Jenkins was called back in, and the rest is history.

 

The movie has now been out well over a month and has grossed $700 million worldwide and still going strong. News broke that it has held box office momentum better than any superhero film in the last 15 years.  Justice League featuring Gadot alongside Superman, Batman, The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman will be coming out later this year, and I am sure the studio is hoping that the audiences who rushed out to see WW in her solo film will support this ensemble piece. After all, she was the one thing about Batman vs. Superman that worked and the only superhero (besides Spidey) that people seemingly care about right now.

WW2 is scheduled to make its debut in December 2019. Rumors have been swirling about the plot line for WW 2 and whether or not a particular character will be resurrected from the dead. All that is pretty much concrete, for now, is Gadot is committed, the setting could be during the 1980’s, and it will be dealing with the Cold War era. Jenkins is still negotiating her deal, but it is highly likely she will be returning as well.

The film is going to do well regardless of what decade it’s set in because Jenkins and Gadot have the recipe that reignited interest in the D C films: girl power on the screen and behind the scenes plus charismatic leads and an excellent story will bring the masses to the theater.

IMDb Film Synopsis

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

Film Director(s)

Patty Jenkins

Film Writer(s)

Allan Heinberg

Zack Snyder

Allan Heinberg

Jason Fuchs

William Moulton Marston

Main Actors/Actresses

Gal Gadot

Chris Pine

Connie Nielsen

Image (top) courtesy of Imdb – Photo by Clay Enos – © 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC

 


 

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The Afterthought – Blood and Oil Television Review

Photo Credit - ABC
Photo Credit – ABC

The Afterthought – Reel Focus blogger’s initial reaction to a new television show, new film release or television show season premiere.

 

I’ll admit that this television show is not something that I would typically watch but I was intrigued by the previews.  Initial reviews on the show claimed that this show is like the 80s television show Dynasty; however this is not what drew me in.  I think what sparked my interest was seeing Don Johnson on screen doing a show in a small town.  This is quite a drastic change from his role in his younger years on Miami Vice.  So, I tuned into it and this is what I got from it.

My Synopsis of the Episode

Cody and Billy are a young married couple who set out to start a family business in Patchwork, North Dakota.  The episode seems to gain traction when Cody and Billy are on the way to North Dakota and flip their pickup truck carrying their product. Luckily, they don’t sustain major injuries from the accident but it does cause a setback for them in terms of their entrepreneurial dreams.  They arrive in town, desperately looking for a place to stay and jobs.  Cody finds a job at a local pharmacy and asks for an advance on her paycheck to purchase a place for them to live.  Billy finds a job as a day laborer moving mud for oil tycoon Hap Briggs.  Unfortunately, he is fired the same day due to a mishap with Hap’s son, Wick.  This news is disappointing for his wife because she finds out the same day that she is pregnant.  Billy assures her that they will make something happen despite seemingly endless streak of bad news.

Fearful of what the future will hold for her and their unborn baby, Cody is ready to give up until she overhears a customer at the pharmacy talking about the “McCutchen Land.”  This is land that Hap Briggs plans to buy in order to dig for oil.  She figures that if Billy could buy the land and intercept the deal, they could make a small fortune for themselves and get back on track to living their entrepreneurial dreams.  Of course acquiring the easement isn’t easy considering Billy and Cody don’t have any major collateral.  However, Billy’s quick thinking  and Cody’s gold and diamond necklace allow them to raise the money necessary to close the deal before the Briggs company representatives could.

Billy and Cody successfully intercept the deal and make 1 million dollars and also talk Hap Briggs into giving up 5 percent on any oil that they discover on the land.  This brings the two families closer together as business partners leaving Hap’s son permanently out of the picture.  Wick despises his father and his new wife, Darla, and after having been disowned by his father, he wants nothing more than to get back at them by stealing their oil to start his own business.  The episode ends with Wick’s plan to steal oil foiling.  Caught red-handed, Wick points a gun at his father but Billy knocks him down and tries to wrestle the gun from Wick.   The gun is accidentally discharged and  a spark from the gun sets the oil on fire leaving the audience on edge from this major cliff hanger – will the two of them burn up in the fire?

The Afterthought – My Take on the Season Premiere

As I said before, this show is not something that I would normally watch but I’m glad I did.  The first thing that struck me is how beautiful the backdrop for this TV show is.  The North Dakota landscape is simply breathtaking.  Another thing that I liked was the small-town feel that came across the screen.  City life is pretty much all I am accustomed to, so it was interesting to get a glimpse of small town life through this interesting tale.

Aside from the beautiful cinematography, I think that the first episode panned out like any other new show.  It really wasn’t intense but it was just enough to make you want more.  So far, we know that Hap Briggs’s son, Wick,  is a disgruntled troublemaker that keeps making his millionaire father look bad.  Hap disowns him after the accident on the land that ends up costing him over a million dollars.  From that point on, Wick is determined to carve out a niche for himself in order to compete effectively with his father.  While tension is building in the Briggs family between father and son, Cody and Billy too are desperately trying to carve out a niche for themselves using the Briggs name.  Their motives, though underhanded, aren’t as malicious as Wick Briggs’ motives are.  Although Billy is new to this entrepreneurship thing, I think he does a good job at purchasing the McCutchen land from Mr. Lundgren and selling it to the Briggs family, making a huge profit for himself in the process.  His wife Cody’s smart thinking allowed for this deal to be possible.  Hap is impressed with this young man’s bold business move and he welcomes Billy in as the son he wish he had.

At the end of the episode, we see Wick trying to break into Hap’s oil brigg and take steal some oil along with an acquaintance but they are intercepted by Hap and Billy.  Wick discharges a gun and the spark from the electricity lands in the oil that Billy and Wick are wrestling in and sets the pool of oil on fire.  Will they burn up?  Obviously not because then the show would have no purpose but I really want to know how they got out of the oil before it caught on fire.  This is where the first episode ended and that was quite enough to make me tune in next week.  This show left me realizing that small town drama can be more exciting that I initially assumed.

IMDb TV Show Synopsis

A couple looks to cash in on the modern-day oil boom in North Dakota.

TV Show Directors

Jonas Pate, Mikael Salomon

TV Show Writer(s)

Rodes Fishburne, Josh Pate

Main Actors/Actresses

Don Johnson, Chace Crawford, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Amber Valletta, Scott Michael Foster, India de Beaufort, Adan Canto, Miranda Rae Mayo , Delroy Lindo, Paul Rae, Keston John, Yaani King

 


 

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The Afterthought – The Player Television Show Review

Photo credit - NBC
Photo credit – NBC

The Afterthought – Reel Focus blogger’s initial reaction to a new television show, new film release or television show season premiere.

There has been some talk that ‘The Player’ may not be a good as all the hype surrounding it.  Variety didn’t seem to be so fond of the show saying ‘the premiere talks a lot about gambling, in terms of a second season, don’t bet on it.’  On a much more positive note, Deadline Hollywood paints a rosier picture saying ‘the well-honed skills and sheer star muscle of  Wesley Snipes– which lifts the drama to a much more interesting place than you’d first expect.’  Clearly, I’m torn right down the middle.  So, instead of dealing with the good or the bad hype, I decided to watch it for myself to find out what’s really going on.  Here’s what I came up with.

My Synopsis of the Episode

The pilot show started out with Alex Kane protecting an international family at a prestigious hotel.  This hotel was supposed to be airtight with its security but in the first scene someone breached security and places the family at risk.  Alex Kane of course saves the day by thinking fast and outsmarting the criminal who tries to kill the family.  In the nick of time, he breaks through a window and tackles the bad guy. Well this is how it begins – in high action – so you know this is how the show must proceed through this episode and throughout its duration on television; otherwise it will get boring.

Luckily, it didn’t get boring for me.  The high action continued.  Seemingly every scene was full of thrills that kept me interested.  After his brief encounter with danger, Alex faces another dilemma.  His girlfriend who loves him dearly ends up murdered by an intruder and the cops try to pin it on him because he is the only one who supposedly witnesses this intruder.  After this scene, a mysterious woman named Cassandra King who is a part of a criminal organization appears and ‘kidnaps’ Alex.  She takes him to meet, Mr. Johnson, the leader of the organization that intends to make Alex a player in a vicious game of betting on whether a crime will occur or not.  The only way the crime will not happen is if Alex can intervene in time.

After his first test bet at the casino, the head of the organization welcomes him to their headquarters to explain more to him about the origins of their organization.  Alex becomes disgruntled after what they reveal because he feels they could have kept his girlfriend from getting murdered since they seem to know beforehand about a crime before it takes place. After their brief discussion and a brief struggle, Alex goes back out on a mission to save the daughter of the international family who had been kidnapped and held for ransom.  Kane realizes that the breach of security that keeps occurring must be because of an insider and the trail leads right to the head of their security team who had been orchestrating these security breaches.  Alex must intervene to save their daughter before the culprits kill her. He does but the cops come pouring in to arrest him.  Ironically, the FBI exonerates him and who is the head of the FBI.  Why Mr. Johnson of course.

The Afterthought – My Take on the Season Premiere

What can I say?  I like it.  I was worried when I read the initial critiques but I wasn’t displeased with the television pilot at all.  It left me wanting more.  As I revealed in a previous article, I’m not usually excited about network television shows but network TV is really upping their game this season.  Before watching the show, I was really excited about Wesley Snipes’ role.  However, upon watching it, I must say that Philip Winchester bought his A game too.  There was never a dull moment in this first episode and I hope that the writers can keep this momentum going.  I’m really looking forward to these fight scenes that Wesley Snipes is supposed to perform himself (not stunt men) according to what John Rogers informed us about in his article.  If you missed that interview, view it here.

Looks like to me, the cards were played right on this show – no pun intended.  I think this may be my new Thursday must-see television show.  I just hope others feel the same.

IMDb TV Show Synopsis

From the executive producers of The Blacklist comes a new edge-of-your-seat Las Vegas thrill ride starring Wesley Snipes and Philip Winchester. Running a high-stakes game of life and death, pit boss Mr. Johnson enlists Alex Kane, a former military man, to race against the clock to stop unthinkable crimes. Place your bets. 

 

TV Show Directors

Michael J. Bassett

Bharat Nalluri

 

TV Show Writer(s)

John Rogers

 

Main Actors/Actresses

Damon Gupton , Wesley Snipes , Charity Wakefield, Nick Wechsler, Philip Winchester , Chris Degner

 

 

Photo credit - NBC
Photo credit – NBC

 


 

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The Afterthought – Empire Season Premiere Review

 Photo Credit: Michael Lavine/FOX
Photo Credit: Michael Lavine/FOX

The Afterthought – Reel Focus blogger’s initial reaction to a new television show, new film release or television show season premiere.

Last season, I got into the “Empire” craze late.  I had heard rumors from friends and co-workers that this show is fantastic but I wasn’t eager to watch it because in the back of my mind I thought “It’s network television, how good could this show really be?”  Well it’s a good thing that I didn’t let my prejudice cause me to miss out on one of the hottest shows that I have ever seen on network television.  I couldn’t believe some of the things I saw unfold before my eyes on screen.  This show really pushes the limits of what has been standard television and I like it.  With shows like this coming back to television, I won’t have to rely so much on cable surfing to find a great thriller.

In the last episode, we witnessed Lucious Lyon get taken to jail and his oldest son, Andre committed a crime that we’re not entirely sure is actually a crime yet.  How did the season open up?  Let’s find out.

My Synopsis of the Episode

I don’t want to spoil it for anyone so I will be very brief and mention the 6 most critical things that happened on the show.

  1.  Cookie Lyons opens up the episode with a ‘Free Lucious Concert’
  2. In jail, Lucious runs into an old dangerous acquaintance – Frank Gathers
  3. Mimi, a woman involved in helping Cookie perform a hostile takeover of Empire from Lucious is ironically working for Lucious – the family’s plan foils and Jamal is infuriated as a result of the family’s scheme
  4. Cookie is being viciously taunted by Frank Gathers even while he is jail so she visits Lucious to have him put a stop to it
  5. Frank and Lucious meet in jail and Frank wants his supposedly loyal jail mates to kill Luscious however they are loyal to Lucious and he has them to take care of Frank instead
  6. The episode ends with Jamal still brewing over the hostile takeover that Cookie schemed up and there is an implication that she has just incited a war, not with Lucious this time but with Jamal

The Afterthought – My Take on the Season Premiere

My, my, my!  What an opener!  I was amazingly calm throughout most of the episode.  I think this may have been what the production team wanted the audience to experience.  I felt like we were being eased back into the plot rather than hit with too much too fast.  Just as the ‘boat was steadied,’ it was shook up by the hostile takeover scene in which Cookie’s scheme to oust Lucious failed.  From that point on, we start to see the real Empire that we are accustomed to: the shadiness, the in-fighting, and most importantly Lucious handling business even while incarcerated.  Overall, I was very pleased with the opening episode and I certainly can’t wait to see what Jamal plans to do to get revenge on his mother for what she did.  It looks like the drama is getting ready to start cooking rather rapidly from now on and I hope that some of the stuff we’re still in the dark about will come to light soon enough.

 IMDb TV Show Synopsis

Lucious, the founder and CEO of a successful record label has been diagnosed with ALS. He must choose one of his three sons to take over the company when he dies. Meanwhile, his ex wife and co-founder, Cookie, has been released from prison and wants to reclaim her rightful place in the company.

TV Show Directors

Lee Daniels, Sanaa Hamri, Debbie Allen, Michael Engler, Rob Hardy, Anthony Hemingway, Rosemary Rodriguez, John Singleton, Danny Strong, Mario Van Peebles

TV Show Writer(s)

Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Ilene Chaiken, Joshua Allen, Wendy Calhoun , Eddie Gonzalez , Jeremy Haft, Eric Haywood, Attica Locke, David Rambo, Malcolm Spellman

Main Actors/Actresses

Terrence Howard , Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers, Grace Gealey, Kaitlin Doubleday, Ta’Rhonda Jones, Gabourey Sidibe, Malik Yoba, Derek Luke

 

 


 

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The Afterthought – The Perfect Guy Film Review

Photo credit: Sony Pictures
Photo credit: Sony Pictures

The Afterthought – Reel Focus blogger’s initial reaction to a new television show, new film release or television show season premiere.

A few weeks ago, I was watching television and the full trailer for “The Perfect Guy” flashed across the television.  I was immediately intrigued especially when I saw the leading men in the cast.  Since then, I have been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to see this movie and yes, it is as good as it looks in the previews.  This film was a little bit complicated for me primarily because I couldn’t stop staring at Morris Chestnut and Michael Ealy long enough to pay attention to the plot; however, I did get through it and here’s what I got from the film.Sanaa Lathan

 

Michael-EalyMy Synopsis of the Film

As a screenwriter, I’m always critically watching the first 10-15 minutes of a movie because this sets the tone and let’s me know if this will be a good, well-structured film.  This film passed the test because the first 10-15 minutes of the film went solidly in one direction and the first plot-point sent it hurling in the opposite direction according to screenplay rules.  In the first ten minutes of this film, as the title suggests, Carter Duncan (Michael Ealy) is depicted as the perfect guy – perfect mate, perfect potential son-in-law, and all-around perfect human being.  A few minutes later, things take a drastic turn for the worse and this drastic spin is what hooks the audience until the end.  After seeming so perfect to Leah Vaughn (Sanaa Lathan), she sees Carter snap and from there, she can’t believe that she has been so vulnerable to this charming, crazy man.  She no longer wants to have anything to do with him after witnessing his unbelievable behavior while returning from a brief trip to meet her parents and this is where the drama begins.  From this point on, the story unfolds as scene after scene of this obsessed man displaying more and more of his lunacy.  He does all that he can to instill fear into her to try to win her back through control but Leah is steadfast and strong.

The Afterthought – My Take on the Film

OMG! I loved this film!  Not only will you be tantalized by the eye candy on screen but the creepiness of Carter Duncan will have you twisting and turning in your seat. Morris Chestnut This is definitely one of those movies that will trigger audience reaction as I heard several people gasping and responding out loud in the theater to Carter’s well-planned, disturbing behavior.  When Leah gathers quiet strength to take back her life from this manic, you will really be on the edge of your seats and possibly hi-fiving your home-girls who accompany you to the theater.  I think that this is really a good film and definitely a change of pace for these leading African American stars.  If you haven’t seen it, brace yourself for a compelling joyride filled with lots of surprising twists and turns that will have you checking your closets and bathrooms once you get home to make sure no one is there.

 

IMDb Film Synopsis

 In the film, Leah Vaughn (Lathan) appears to have the ideal life. She enjoys a challenging, fast-paced career as a lobbyist; Dave (Morris Chestnut), her longterm boyfriend loves her. And yet, at 36, she’s ready to move to the next phase. Marriage and a family seem a logical and welcome step. Dave is not so sure. A bit commitment phobic, his misgivings lead to a painful break up.

Enter Carter Duncan (Ealy), a handsome, charming stranger whose path keeps crossing with Leah’s. Caring and solicitous of Leah and her family and friends, their relationship rapidly progresses. It seems Leah has met the perfect guy. But if it seems too good to be true… Soon Carter’s protective nature morphs into something more sinister. It’s clear Leah has to end this new relationship and when she does, her onetime lover becomes her ultimate enemy. It will take every bit of her cunning and resolve to escape and outwit him.

Film Directors

David M. Rosenthal

Film Writer(s)

Tyger Williams

Main Actors/Actresses

Michael Ealy, Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut

 

Don’t forget to check out the interview with the screenwriter for this film Tyger Williams here.

 

 

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The Afterthought – Born Again Virgin Television Show Review

Photo credit - TVOne
Photo credit – TVOne

The Afterthought – Reel Focus blogger’s initial reaction to a new television show, new film release or television show season premiere.

 

I really like watching some of the shows on TVOne particularly the show Fatal Attraction, which reminds me of the television show on Oxygen called Snapped. I can also catch some of my other favorites such as Unsung, A Different World and Martin Lawrence on this network. While recently watching my favorite shows, I kept seeing promos for a new show called Born Again Virgin. I must say, commercials do have a hypnotizing effect because upon watching the promo initially, I had no intention of watching it. However, a few days prior to the show’s premiere, I couldn’t resist the idea of watching it – at least once.  I also discovered that this is a show filmed in Georgia so I had to show my support for it.

 

My Synopsis of Episode 1 – “No New Friends”

Although the main character, Jenna (Danielle Nicolet) is practicing celibacy, the show ironically opens up with her dreaming of erotic ecstasy with a man by the name of Donovan (played by singer Tank).  She is awakened by her friend and roommate, Kelly (Meagan Holder) who catches her in the throws of ecstasy with a pillow while she is sleeping.  Jenna is upset with Kelly for interrupting her during her only time that she is allowed to escape from her self-imposed decision to not have sex. The show is primarily about Jenna and her issues with sex but we do also get a glimpse into the lives of her roommates.  Kelly is a successful businesswoman who is great at what she does but continues to suffer from the glass-ceiling effect.  Despite being like “one of the boys” and being just as competitive as men are in business, she is still facing career blockages that men usually don’t face in business.  A new co-worker, Gina (Valerie Payton), who was recently hired at the firm takes interest in being OBF’s (office buddies forever) with Kelly and tries to persuade her to be more feminine and lady-like.  Jenna’s other roommate Tara (Eva Marcille) is also dealing with career issues.  She is an aspiring actress that can’t seem to catch a lucky break.  The class that she attends for improvisation is completely stupid according to her, not to mention creepy. The episode concludes with Jenna hosting at her apartment a session of her virgin-only class that she recently joined.  The teacher of the class, Renee, is played by a familiar face that we have seen here on Reel Focus, Tinashe Kajese (click link to see her article).  Tara and Kelly burst in on the meeting and Tara, who is practicing being more open, reveals to Jenna’s class that she is not a virgin nor is Jenna and that Jenna has been with many men but is now reclaiming her virginity.  This disgusts all members of the class and all of them leave except Angel (Chrystee Pharris) who is a 35 year old virgin that wants to experience sex for the first time and wants Jenna to prepare her to attract a suitor.  Ironically, after helping Angel get fixed up, she loses her virginity to the same man that Jenna secretly craves – Donovan.

 

My Synopsis of Episode 2 – “Go Hard or Go Home”

In the next episode, we get to see more of Jenna’s profession.  She opens up the episode with the decision to start adding video messages to her blog.  This results in a lot of unrelated video messaging added to her sites from subscribers. Jenna’s roommates are continuing to go through career woes.  Kelly gets her hand on a big contract promoting a video game by Omari Wilkes’, a famous basketball player.  After beating him at his own video game, he decides that he doesn’t want to do business with her firm.  Devastated, Kelly, who is mocked by her co-workers and her boss for allowing such an important contract to slip through her hands, goes to the gym to have a heart-to-heart with Omari to insist to him that she is the right promoter for his new video game.  Luckily, he gives her another chance to represent him. Tara is so determined to get her acting career underway she calls up Lisa Woo, another TVOne star on the show “Hollywood Divas,” to help her get a reality show gig lined up.  Tara takes her phone and video tapes herself doing outlandish things in order to convince Lisa that she can have her own reality show called the “Tara Dome.”  After Lisa sees her video, she tells Tara to give up on the reality show business because it takes away opportunities from current reality stars like herself. The episode ends with Jenna finally receiving a legitimate blog video message from a troubled girl.  She records a message for the teen telling her how to deal with the issue of celibacy.

 

The Afterthought – My Take on the Show

Just like with any new show, this show has promise and deserves a chance.  The writers seemed to focus on African American women’s issues in a funny way.  One major issue that stood out for me is the issue of being torn between being “lady-like” and a competitive professional business woman.  Two other issues that were raised were the struggles of trying to be an entrepreneur as witnessed in Jenna’s character as a career blogger; and the issue of trying to be successful in the world of acting as witnessed by Tara’s character.  The cinematography was great and of course I was excited to see scenes of Atlanta scattered in between scenes.  Overall, I think the first few episodes introduced the characters well but I am hoping that as we get to know more about the ladies that the plot will thicken and the tension will build each week.

 

IMDb Show Synopsis

Jenna (Danielle Nicolet), a 34 year-old up-and-coming blogger, decides to become celibate when she finds her body count is starting to trump her age. Using her blog as encouragement for her newly adapted sex diet and also as a sounding board for her girlfriends’ often amusing “sexcapades,” Jenna is determined to make the blog a success and transform her friends in the process.

 

Show Directors

Russ Par & Rashidi Natara Harper

 

Show Writers

Glenda Richardson, Aeysha Carr, Valencia Parker, Ranada Shepard, Meg Deloatch

 

 

 


MADE IN GEORGIA

 

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Reality Rewind: Married at First Sight

One week they were strangers.  The next week, they were married.  This is the premise of the social experiment of scientifically arranged marriages that is the reality sweetheart, Married at First Sight, for the FYI Network (Formerly Bio Channel).

Now, the experiment is over. Are the relationships over too?

The show followed six people, three couples, who were perfect mates for one another, at least on paper.  A team of relationship experts matched the six singles looking for love. They agreed to marry total strangers and let their lives play out before the cameras.

The couples got hitched, then moved in together and spent several weeks trying to get to know one another and deciding if they wanted to stay married.  Did I mention, each met their supposed “soul mate” for the first time at the altar?

Let’s meet the couples:

Jamie & Doug

Jamie and Doug were the pair who started out as the couple who didn’t really seem to match.  While it was love at first sight for Doug, Jamie was not as easily smitten.  Jamie says her tough upbringing and not knowing her father, saddled her with trust issues which were evident as the relationship progressed. But she eventually let her walls come down and started warming up to Doug. In fact there was one point where she feared she would like him more than he liked her.

Monet & VaughnMonet & Vaughn

Monet and Vaughn had sexual chemistry right away. But it was probably the most tumultuous of all the relationships. Their marriage was riddled with arguments, mixed signals and all kind of communication issues. They fought in nearly every episode and just when you thought they had reached a common ground, one or the other would say the wrong thing and the arguing would resume. They had disagreements about everything from who would cook dinner to whether one of them was “too happy.”

Kortney and Jason seemed smitten with each other right out of the gate.

Kortney & Jason

Kortney and Jason seemed smitten with each other right out of the gate.  The only issue that ever seemed to arise with them was finding time to spend together with their busy schedules.  Also, support from their families was an issue.  Jason’s mom was suffering from cancer which made him hesitant to include her in his marriage too soon.

So how did these extreme love connections turn out?

On last night’s finale, two of the three couples announced they would stay married. Vaughn and Monet chose to go their separate ways.  In her testimonial, Monet accused Vaughn of “not being ready for marriage.”  They were the only couple that appeared to know ahead of time that final day what the other was thinking.

The show has been picked up for a second season. Ratings soared to over 600 thousand during the 5th episode that featured Vaughn offending Monet by asking if “threesomes” were acceptable.


The Female Factor Fall Line-Up

The new season of network television shows has started so let the excitement begin – especially for women.

Networks are taking notice of and using the female factor power to their advantage with some new shows with dominant, leading female characters in the upcoming fall season television line-up.

Some regular favorites coming back to the small screen are: (in order by premiere date)

Tuesday, September 16 at 9:30 pm on Fox

The Mindy Project with Mindy Kaling (creator of the show)

(We could see her star power even as the quirky office mate in The Office)

Sunday, September 21 @ 9 pm on CBS

The Good Wife with Julianna Margulies (Emmy award winning role) as Alicia Florrick

(Who knew a little show about a wife standing by her adulterating political husband would have so much bang over the now 6thseason)

Thursday, September 25 at 8 pm and 9 pm on ABC

Grey’s Anatomy with an amazing ensemble cast lead by Ellen Pompeo.

(The doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial are returning with some questions and tension for season 11 of the first series in the Shonda Rhines franchise.)

Scandal with Kerry Washington and the Gladiator CrewScandal

(The new season minus Columbus Short is destined to be a pleasure. As Pope returns to supreme solution solving self with a twist you won’t see coming…or maybe we just expect it.)

New shows that are sure to make for interesting TV watching: (in order by premiere date)

Wednesday, September 17 at 9 pm on Fox

The Red Band Society featuring Octavia Spencer as Nurse Jackson

(Technically, RB Society debuted online for a week in late August due to fan support of $100,000. So, that alone is worth checking it out when it makes its TV debut.)

Sunday, September 21 at 8 pm on CBS

Madam Secretary starring Tea Leoni

(You think Condoleezza Rice is a consultant on the show…or maybe she’ll make a guest appearance. Got to watch to see.)

Wednesday, September 24 at 8 pm on NBC

The Mysteries of Laura starring Debra Messing

(From a single interior designer with a handsome gay bestie on Will & Grace to a working mom battling the bad guys, twin sons, and a clingy soon-to-be ex-husband, Messing is coming back home with a bang.)

Thursday, September 25 @ 10 pm on ABC

How to Get Away with Murder starring Viola Davis

(This is the newest addition to the Shonda Rhimes TV show series franchise that takes college students from the classroom to real life on a sexy, suspenseful journey filled with drama.)

These shows are merely a small sampling of what’s to come for network programming. For a full list of the shows with premiere dates, check out the following sites:

TV Guide

TV Line

Vulture

Make sure to share with us your thoughts on the upcoming season of great television and which shows are a must see for you.


FILM DISSECTION: Wolf of Wall Street – An Overall Perspective

 
Written by Melisha “Mel” Childs, Senior Blog Contributor
 

For someone that hasn’t watched The Wolf of Wall Street, the storyline unfolds very similar to these scenes that I photographed as I was watching it:

The Wolf of Wall Street

Scene 1 – Man on top of the universe

Scene 2 – Man down

Scene 3 – Man judged

Scene 4 – Man sentenced and humiliated

Scene 5 – Man jailed

~The End~ 

This is basically the storyline; however, one important element that I failed to mention before is that this is a Martin Scorsese film.  That being said, you and I both know that this film is anything but as simple as this storyline is.

Needless to say – Wall Street is a wild place.  One can see this every day on any given news channel:   when the bell rings and the floor opens, it is filled with brokers making calls, running around, shouting and engaged in all types of commotion.  This is the sophisticated Wall Street that we see on CNN, CNBC, Fox and other news networks.  Mr. Scorsese brings us into his world – his genius mind translates the unseen world of Wall Street as only he could imagine it.  Sex, drugs, lies, intrigue – everything sordid you can imagine is included in this film; everything except murder, unless you would like to consider ruined reputations as murder.

One of the first things that piqued my interest as the film opens is the lion strolling around the office.  For me, this symbolically lays the foundation of who Jordan Belfort would become to his constituents – a lion in charge of his pride.  Ironically, the director chose the title of wolf to describe Jordan, which is the same description in the title of the book. The opening scene, which is in stark contrast with the title, implies to me that even though Jordan may have seen himself as a lion or a regal, charismatic person before his pride; the outside world saw him as a vicious wolf leading a pack of vicious wolves. After this opening scene, came countless scenes of wild, reckless and carefree behavior, all at the investors’ expense.  Nobody was safe or innocent in Mr. Scorsese’s interpretation of Wall Street, except maybe Jordan’s young children.  Everything and everyone else were savages who basked in the essence of greed whether it was Jordan’s father – who was a co-conspiring accountant who tried to cover up his son’s wretched lifestyle in order to protect the family name; or Jordan’s wife’s sweet ol’ aunt who was just as much a shady villain, helping him launder money in offshore accounts.

I could go on and on about the good, the bad, and the ugly on Wall street; however, this is not my aim in this blog.  Everyone can draw their own conclusions about the largest and most powerful “invisible” trading firm in the world.  Instead my focus is on how Mr. Scorsese took the taboo nature of what he believes goes on behind the scenes on Wall Street and turned it into an ongoing extravaganza of drug induced chaos, not just on the business floor but in how these people live.  The rogue characters, the wild music, the abrupt changes in scenes all really give you not only the visual cue that this is a crazy world but you can also feel that this is a crazy world.  It is an incredible 3 hours of satire and propaganda at its finest and it’s no wonder that it racked up on Academy Award nominations for the following: Best Picture, Best Director (Martin Scorsese), Best Adapted Screenplay (Terrance Winter), Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), and Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill); and has gone on record as Scorsese’s highest grossing film to date.

 

Photos taken by Mel from screen shots of The Wolf of Wall Street.


FILM DISSECTION: Wolf of Wall Street – A Sound Engineer’s Perspective

While many people wouldn’t consider a film like The Wolf of Wall Street to feature complex sound design, supervising sound editor Eugene Gearty actually had a team of over 40 people who were tasked with making the sounds of Wall Street come alive.

One of the primarily techniques which was utilized throughout the film was the use of minimal background noise in settings that are otherwise quite loud. Most films set in New York have a very distinctive sound of the cityscape, but if you watch this film carefully, you will see that scenes that take place in restaurants, offices and even outdoors have the sound of the surrounding background noise mixed very low. This is an effective technique because it makes the conversations between characters seem very intimate and intense, as if the world of the virile stockbrokers was the only one in existence.

Another recurring sonic theme was that of banging. There were several instances where characters either banged rhythmically on their chests or on tables which was symbolic of archaic, almost animalistic and warrior like nature of the characters as they fought to gain more and more materialistic wealth and power. The chest banging scenes symbolized their war cry.

In addition to the sound design, the music used in the film was one of the most important elements in terms of developing the story, establishing the timeline, and providing emotional and comic assistance. For a film that was initially set in 1987, it was an interesting choice by music editor, Jennifer Dunnington, to use classic, twangy rock and blues and jazz standards to introduce the film and characters to the audience. This could have been done to illustrate the masculine tone of the film. As the characters move from the 80’s to the early 90’s, we are introduced to the scene by first hearing the Cypress Hill classic, “Insane in the Membrane” which was used to establish time and also context, since our main characters were heavy into drugs and debauchery by this point in the film.

A particular scene where music was used to emphasize comic relief occurred when main characters Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) were having a drug induced fight on the floor. When Donnie begins choking on a piece of turkey, a sluggish Jordan has to figure out how to fix the situation and does so by abruptly taking cocaine, all while the theme song to “Popeye” plays on a TV in the background. This was done to show that cocaine was like his spinach and to also cut the tension of the otherwise suspenseful situation.

Wolf of Wall Street featured a very minimal sound job that subconsciously helped to tie all of the visual elements of the film together. Even though it may not seem like there was very much happening, the sonic craftsmanship that helped to shape the movie was all done with a purpose and was as effective in telling the story as it was entertaining to listen to.