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Jaya’s Pop Culture Minute (PCM)- “A Sundance Rundown”

Black Future Feminist fans, we got a special treat for you from our resident intern Jaya Robinson! On this past January, Jaya had the opportunity to attend this year’s Sundance Film Festival which was held in a virtual format!! Check out below her commentary and spoiler-free reviews of some of the festival’s feature films!!

This year I was fortunate enough to attend the Sundance film festival last month, so I thought I would give you guys a spoiler-free review of the four movies I saw!

‘After Yang’ (Directed by Kogonada)

After Yang was the first movie I saw at the virtual festival and it is definitely one of my favorites from the ones I saw. It is a movie set in a very technologically advanced society in the future and it follows one family in particular when their daughter’s android (Yang) breaks down and her father Jake played by Colin Farrell looks for a way to repair him. It is a beautiful movie that deals with loss and human connection. The acting is really a key part of the movie too, along with an excellent cast. The cinematography is also something that I really think of when I hear about this movie, just because it was so beautiful. After Yang is set to be released in theaters on March 4th. 

‘Master’ (Directed by Mariama Diallo)

Switching gears almost drastically, the next movie I watched was a horror/commentary on the black experience in academia. The movie follows two characters, Gail Bishop the new “master” at a prestigious New England university, and a student Jasmine Moore that is being terrorized by this “Salem Witch Trials” era legend on the campus. Each navigate different sides of the university’s haunted past and even more terrifying present. This movie was definitely my favorite of all the movies I watched at the festival, the horror aspect and the commentary really made me think of how black women are treated at predominantly white institutions (PWIs). I really loved how the movie was divided into specific chapters that were referenced in the dialogue. Not only was the writing amazing but Regina Hall’s performance really stood out to me, especially seeing her in a much more serious role. This movie will also be available to stream on Amazon Prime on March 18th. 

‘892’ (Directed by Abi Damaris Corbin)

892 is another hard hitting movie that is based on a real story. The movie follows Brian Brown Easley who once his disability check fails to deliver from Veterans Affairs is close to becoming homeless. As a result, with no other options in place he decides to hold up a Wells Fargo bank by saying “I’ve got a bomb.” Rather than being a fictional tale this movie is all too real, this movie showcases what some forgotten veterans face. This is usually not the type of genre of movie I gravitate towards, but this movie draws you in completely. Even all the way to the end you are invested into this movie and what will happen next. With stellar performances from John Boyega, who showcases his amazing acting range and Nicole Beharie, these performances really bring the movie together. This movie also features Michael K. Williams’ final role on the big screen. 

892' Review: A Bank Robbery Makes a Statement - Variety

‘Honk For Jesus, Save Your Soul’ (Directed by Admamma Ebo)

Where do I begin with this well done dark comedy? There is a lot to say about it, but first let us begin with what the movie is about. It follows Trinity Childs played by Regina Hall and her husband Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs played by Sterling K. Brown in the aftermath of a big scandal, trying to rebuild their once prominent church. The writing, in particular, nails the sometimes ridiculous nature of mega churches. It is filmed like an episode of The Office, following the mock documentary format that often lands with the audience. Although it is advertised as a comedy it does do well with juggling two genres of a more serious drama and outright comedy. This is another example of how Regina Hall steals a movie, she puts on another show stopping performance that really makes you invested in the movie. You don’t usually see a mock documentary in a movie format and I think that’s what makes it work, especially for a directorial debut film. 

(Photo credit: Sundance Institute)

All in all, even though some of the movies that I watched were not some of my favorites, I am really glad I was able to attend and be a part of the Sundance community for the first time. When it is all said and done, I look forward to seeing everyone’s reactions to the movies once they officially release!

Posted in Feature Spotlight, Jaya's Pop Culture Minute-PCM, On The Radar

Jaya’s Pop Culture Minute (PCM)- “A Year in Review”

Not only do you get Dr. G’s 2021 Faves, but I had to make sure I gave you a bonus list! Check out Black Future Feminist Intern Jaya as she offers her two cents for 2021!!

Here is a list of my favorite things that came out and/or discovered for the first time this year. These are things that I discovered that really stuck with me through this crazy year. So for my final post of 2021 here are a few things that got me through this year and here’s to a new year!

My Favorite Albums:

  • Paul’s Boutique ~Beastie Boys
  • Midnight Marauders ~A Tribe Called Quest
  • Call Me If You Get Lost ~Tyler the Creator
  • Vs. ~Pearl Jam
  • There is Nothing Left To Lose ~Foo Fighters
  • Divine Feminine ~Mac Miller
  • Planet Her ~Doja Cat
  • Lately I Feel Everything ~Willow Smith
Photo by Jessica Lynn Lewis on Pexels.com

My Favorite Books:

  • Hamlet ~William Shakespeare
  • Flowers for Algernon ~Daniel Keyes
  • The Handmaid’s Tale ~Margaret Atwood
  • A Game of Thrones ~George R.R. Martin
  • The Song of Achilles ~Madeline Miller
Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

My Favorite Movies:

  • Eternals (2021)
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)
  • Sound of Metal (2019)
  • Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
  • The Truman Show (1998)
  • Fargo (1996)
  • Goodfellas (1990)
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

My Favorite TV Shows:

  • Invincible (Prime Video)
  • Squid Game (Netflix)
  • Arrested Development (Netflix)
  • Clickbait (Netflix)
  • The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (Disney+)
  • Hawkeye (Disney+)
  • Downton Abbey (Peacock)
  • Gotham (Netflix)
  • Cowboy Bebop [Anime] (Funimation)
Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

Cheers to what is to come in 2022!!

Posted in Jaya's Pop Culture Minute-PCM

Jaya’s Pop Culture Minute (PCM)*

Today Jaya’s Pop Culture Minute takes us back to this summer with, “Why is The Suicide Squad (2021) Better Than Suicide Squad (2016)”. Check it out below:

The simple answer is that a change in directing, and writing can go a very long way. The first Suicide Squad (2016) movie directed by David Ayer, in my opinion, takes itself too seriously. So seriously, in fact that the movie falls flat, and the characters seem more of a shell than anything else, characters like Harley Quinn seemed tamed and felt like someone trying to imitate what they think her character is like, not to mention her relationship with the Joker throughout the movie. The movie, although about classic supervillains and mercenaries, falls short and does not feel like the usual comic book movies. The atmosphere of the whole movie is dark and gloomy and drags in most parts. The dialogue itself is questionable at best with weird deliveries from some of the actors, but you cannot really do anything when the writing is dull.

Whereas, The Suicide Squad (2021) directed and written by James Gunn is what you think of when you think of a classic comic book movie, from the bright colors and in-character writing for each character. In the 2021 movie, Harley Quinn is seen as an actual character and is written with depth instead of just a cute girl in a group of guys. She has character growth in the movie but subtly so that the comic book movie aspect is not lost in translation. Rick Flag is a great example too of the difference directing and writing can do to a character, in the 2016 movie Rick is seen as a hard military man who does not really care for his team and is written one-dimensionally. While in the James Gunn movie he is a relatable character with a real personality, his core personality from the first movie is shown sometimes but it is shown in a digestible way where we still get the kind of funny quips and jokes from him.

So why is the second Suicide Squad movie better than the first one? Directing and writing as well as character design really makes this movie much better than the first one. Characters in the movie new and old are given real personalities and motivations that were lost in the first one. Enjoyable dialogue and scenes also add to why the 2021 movie is much more enjoyable.

The Suicide Squad (2021)

*Jaya’s Pop Culture Minute (PCM) is all about giving people pop culture analysis and discussion in short posts. From Marvel comics, Anime, Movies, and Tv Shows, Jaya deliver’s her thoughts and ideas on what she would like to see more of, what writers can do to improve their outreach to different demographics and more! Jaya herself is a sophomore, (soon to be junior), in high school who loves talking about all things pop culture and she hopes you come back to read more.

Posted in Feature Spotlight, Jaya's Pop Culture Minute-PCM

Jaya’s Pop Culture Minute

Let’s Talk About Invincible!!

Invincible is the new Amazon Prime video animated television series based on the comics written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Tyan Ottely. This first season took the internet by storm and with season two and three being shortly announced after the release of the first season. The bigger question I want to tackle is, why is it so good? What drew people to this seemingly regular animated show about superheroes?

The latter question is definitely answered in the first episode. After seeing “Omni Man” who we think is the regular good guy type, we see him brutally kill the “Guardians of the Globe,” or this universe’s version of the “Avengers/Justice League.”

With that huge scene being in the first episode it draws the viewer into the show even more. This is not your typical superhero animated show. The hero being the villain all along and revealed in the first episode gives the viewer a sense of something new that has not been done before. I know for me I always find the “superhero being the villain” trope very interesting. Something about things being not as they seem are very unpredictable and that’s what makes this show so unique and interesting. 

Along with an intriguing plot, the series also includes a star studded cast with Steven Yeun voicing “Mark”, Sandra Oh voicing “Debbie”, and J.K. Simmons voicing “Omni Man.” When it is all said and done, it’s really hard not to enjoy the show! If the first season taught us anything it is that anything can happen and I’m excited to see where they take Mark’s character in the future. I’m also excited to see what happens when Omni Man comes back.

Invincible character (voiced by Steven Yuen) Credit: Amazon Prime Studios
Lead character “Invincible” (voiced by Steven Yuen) from the animated series of the same name;
Photo Credit: Amazon Prime Studios

Posted in Feature Spotlight, Jaya's Pop Culture Minute-PCM

Jaya’s Pop Culture Minute!- “Let’s Talk About The Marvel Fandom”

Closing out this month on Jaya’s Pop Culture Minute, BFF intern Jaya dives back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with an analysis and some commentary on the Disney+ series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier!!

With the ending of Wandavision, Marvel was set to release its latest series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, a show following two characters that when all is said and done we do not really know. But as the episodes started coming out there became a clear divide between the praise Bucky Barnes was sent and the lack of praise and comments for Sam Wilson. Essentially Sam Wilson is being treated as an accessory within his own show.

As the show ratings progressed, it became known that Sam Wilson was not the reason why the Marvel fandom liked the show. This is nothing new, Black superheroes are constantly pushed behind their white counterparts, and are treated less than by a majority of the marvel fandom, (mostly from dudebros and uneducated fans). What most of the fandom lacks in seeing is what they deem Sam Wilson is worth. Within a week of the first two episodes Sam Wilson was at the bottom of polls conducted by various fan run sites and pop culture news outlets. For example, one had Sam polling at 11% while Zemo was at 20% (according to Fandom Wikipedia). This is a noticeable difference. It was not until the fourth episode that Sam Wilson started to gain traction as a result of John Walker, the government appointed Captain America bludgeoning an innocent person to death (episode 3). It’s almost as if Sam had to prove his worth in the eyes of the Marvel fandom in order for him to gain credibility.

As a Bucky and Sam fan myself,  I noticed how Bucky polled very high early on in the show, while Sam stayed low. Interestingly enough, in the first few episodes Bucky had more lines than he did in the MCU movies, but this does not mean he was better in any way than Sam. Time and time again this pattern repeats itself, Black superheroes whether they have their own movie, or show, constantly have to prove their worth or earn their credibility in the eyes of a majority of the Marvel fandom. An early example of this is James Rhodes and Tony Stark. Through the Iron Man franchise Rhodey is treated as a sidekick or an accessory to the playboy philanthropist. We get very little backstory about Rhodey and he’s treated almost like a filler character. This continues even in the Avengers movies where Rhodey is seen as the sidekick. Even now, decades later after the last Iron Man movie, the Marvel fandom still treats him as a sidekick and not his own character due to Marvel’s lack of character development. 

After watching the finale it seems even more obvious that Sam had to prove himself as a character for people to like him more, whereas Bucky was already well liked. Additionally, the finale received the lowest ratings, which is interesting because this episode is the first time we see Sam really step into his role as Captain America. On Instagram only a DAY after Sam took up the mantle people were making their own edits of Sam in the suit, along with tweets of who should be the next Captain America after as if Sam did not just become Captain America. This further proves how much Sam Wilson is treated as a side character/ accessory in his own show. As stated earlier, the Marvel fandom has shown this pattern time and time again. This is an issue that Marvel writers must deal with moving forward. A step in the right direction would be to hire more diverse writers so we can stop this pattern, because as a Black Marvel fan this constant pattern is tiring and irritating.

Sebastian Stan as James ‘Bucky’ Barnes/the Winter Soldier and Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon