Posted in Feature Spotlight, Jaya's Pop Culture Minute-PCM, On the Desk...

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, Resources

Feature Spotlight- “Jaya’s Pop Culture Minute”

Before March ends I had to make sure you got your monthly feature from Black Future Feminist Intern Jaya!! Not only do we have a new feature, but it will be housed under a new name, Jaya’s Pop Culture Minute!!

This month Jaya is offering a commentary on the Amazon Studios film, One Night in Miami (2020). Check it out below:

Although One Night in Miami is based on various moments (with fictional dialogue) between  singer Sam Cooke, civil rights activist Malcolm X, boxer Cassius Clay, and football star Jim Brown, during an actual event the film somehow balanced out these large historical figures so that audiences can visualize them as real people. Most times when discussing Malcom X we only see him as a huge pivotal figure, but rarely as confidant, friend, or father. In this movie, each figure is presented in a more digestible manner. Additionally, this movie has an inviting feel that draws you into this filmic story. Simply put, this movie gives new meaning to the bonds of friendship, and how one night together can open new wounds, while mending old ones. Through the many conversations, we see how each of these men bring us into their deep dialogue, while also exposing audiences to the struggles of that time. While each of the men saw themselves as brothers and friends, like family and friends they had their disagreements, mainly around civil rights, but managed to understand and ultimately respect their differences. Even though the film delivers a lighthearted feel, it also shows moments when you are snapped back into reality. In particular, we see this in Malcolm’s uneasiness and concern with being followed and the constant feeling that a wave of death is in the air. 

Overall, this movie shined a fresh new light and a more human side to these important, complex historical figures. Even the performances from the actors were spot on from their dialect to small details, which only enhanced the movie. The conflicts between characters are perfectly done. Additionally, the cinematography adds another layer of greatness from the bird’s eye view of the boxing match, to seeing Sam pull you in with his melodic voice, and Jim Brown in the viewfinder.

For a directorial debut, from Regina King, this is an amazing movie! Moreover, the idea of seeing these figures act normal and interact with each other during their last days is something that will leave your heart hurting. In the end, each actor’s performance will leave you breathless and wanting more!!

You will be able to find Jaya’s monthly features as well as other engaging and fun content in the “Resources” section of the site!!

One Night in Miami (2021)
Cast members (l-r) Sam Cooke [Leslie Odom, Jr.]; Jim Brown [Aldis Hodge]; Malcolm X [Kingsley Ben-Adir]; and Muhammad Ali [Eli Goree]

Jaya’s PCM Rating: 3.5 /5 Stars

Posted in Feature Spotlight

Feature Spotlight

“The only way you really see change is by helping create it.” ~Lena Waithe

Today’s post is all about creating that change through featuring up and coming talent, especially young Black talent! Just in the same way that many of my teachers and mentors guided and assisted in my journey, it is my duty to do the same. If it was not for my community, I would not be the person I am today. I remember back in high school I use to tell myself, whenever I got the opportunity to reach back and guide the next future leaders I would jump at the opportunity. Thus, it is very important to guide and recognize, but also create a space and a platform to feature these talents.

So it is with great excitement that I am able to share with you the newest member to the Black Future Feminist team, Jaya Robinson! Jaya is a sophomore in high school, a published author, and a budding pop culture commentator!! Plus, like me she is also a fan of comic books and film!!

And on a monthly basis, Black Future Feminist followers will get to check out featured pop culture commentary on a variety of Blockbuster films, new television series, comic books, manga, and so much more. Today’s featured content, takes a look at the 2008 Marvel Comics action film, Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr. and its overall impact on pop culture.

Iron Man and Its Impact on Pop Culture” ~Jaya Robinson

Like many people, 2008’s Iron Man was my first introduction to big popular comic book movies. Before that time, there were superhero movies such as the Warner Bros. Batman film franchise, (Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney), and even before that the Superman movie franchise, however no movie franchise was what Marvel was bound to become. Prior to Iron Man, only a selected few (mainly comic book fans/readers) knew about the “Iron Man” character. Even those who were familiar with from the comics, they did not necessarily relate to the character. However, this movie created a lane that made it possible to relate to Tony Stark. It made an otherwise un-relatable billionaire, playboy philanthropist…human. Iron Man, as a film, not only launched Marvel Comics into mainstream media and pop culture, but it also changed how superheroes were approached in blockbuster movies. Additionally, Iron Man played a fundamental role in the launching other comic book movies and future blockbusters. Without Iron Man, current comic book based movies would not be the same. Iron Man humanized the characters it brought from the page and showed them in a way audiences had never seen before. It is important to note, that superheroes have always been an important part of pop culture. Before there were superhero TV shows, we had comic books. As an added bonus, what made this movie so special was that they were able to take inspiration directly from the pages of the comic book that people grew up with and transform it to the big screen. 

Now what made this movie so different from other comic book movies of the time was its realness and grit. This movie did not shy away from Tony Stark’s flaws (such as his struggle with alcohol addiction), but embraced them and showed them in a new light. Iron Man not only reached people who enjoyed comic books, but also people who just enjoyed movies. 

Iron Man bridged the gap between the comic book genre and the regular film genre. It is one of the reasons why Iron Man was so good for the time. The cinematography as well as the plot and storyline proved to be good enough to break the label of being a stereotypical “comic book” movie. In some cases, comic book movies focused on the superhero and not the character itself. Iron Man moved away from that formula and essentially laid the groundwork for future comic book movies. It essentially became the blueprint. This movie sparked the start of not only the Marvel franchise, but other comic book movies outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron Man, as a film, also played a role in signaling other comic books to move into the mainstream media. One might also argue that it sparked an added interest in comic books, in general. Because of its commercial success, people began to take an active interest in Tony Stark’s complete background and origin.

All in all, Marvel would set its wheels in motion with the Iron Man film while making a further mark in the comic book medium and securing a place within pop culture. In the end, Iron Man proved skeptics wrong, and showed how superhero movies did not always have to be a superhero vs. alien threat, but could also be superhero vs. self. Iron Man showed that superhero movies can incorporate an intimate and relatable narrative, because at the end of the day Iron Man is still a man behind all of the armor.

Image result for iron man
Tony Stark as “Iron Man”