Vice President Joe Biden
Former President Bill Clinton
President Barack Obama
Khizr Khan: Father of deceased Pakistani-American Muslim Bronze Star & Purple Heart recipient (Capt. Humayun Khan)
Broadchurch – Veteran Brit powerhouse actresses (Charlotte Rampling; Marianne Jean Baptiste) join the strong ensemble cast as dueling barristers (lawyers) in S2 of the crime drama set in the quiet, beautiful, close-knit town. It’s time for the trial, BUT there is still suspense. We learn more re: another crime from the past of DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant). I’ve seen the first 3 eps so far.
Orange is the New Black – This show continues to grow (new guards and inmates come in, incl. a young/hijabi/black/Muslim woman and a celeb akin to Martha Stewart, played by Blair Brown). How will Sophia deal w/ being in isolation? What will Piper do next now that she has the rep of being a badass? Will Crazy Eyes ever find real love? The jail is overcrowded now, w/ a large pop. of Latinas bused in. I have only seen 3 eps- need to get back into it soon!
Finding Dory – My mom (big fan of Finding Nemo) & I saw this yesterday afternoon (TOO hot to be out)- we LOVED it! The short film (Piper) was SO cute/well-made/touching! The octopus, Hank (Ed Oneill) was my fave; it was esp. cool how he blended into the environment around him (like a chameleon). Gorgeous Brits Idris Elba & Dominic West play two seals. Veteran comedy actors (Eugene Levy & Diane Keaton) voice Dory’s kind/encouraging parents.
Free State of Jones – The McConaughssaince continues w/ this (based on a true story) historical drama set during the Civil War. But I must admit that the first 5 mins are tough to watch (bloody/gory/realistic); the diverse audience I saw it w/ gasped and cringed at some scenes. There is absolutely NOTHING glam re: war, and boy does this film show us that! The pitch-perfect Matthew is joined by luminous Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle) and Mahershala Ali (who MANY will know from House of Cards on Netflix). In his role as Moses, an escaped field slave separated from his wife and young son, Ali gets to show us a LOT more of his talent. Even in the quiet moments, he is a strong screen presence.
No man outta tell another man what he’s gotta live for or what he’s gotta die for! –Newton Knight declares to his small band of followers- runaway Confederate soldiers, poor white farmers (including widows w/ children), & runaway slaves
I can’t believe that history like this is NOT taught in schools! I’m SO glad that I got to see it for free at a pre-screening. Unlike what Col. Robert Gould Shaw (played by Matthew Broderick in Glory) said in one his letters to his mother (“I do not know these men, their jokes, their songs”)- Knight can relate to the blacks around him. He lived in the swamps w/ them, foraged for food/fished w/ the men, etc. Check this film out if you can!
The Night Of – This is an HBO limited series starring British-Pakistani actor, Riz Ahmed, and veteran actor, John Turturro (who had to take over after the death of James Gandolfini). The story centers on a Pakistani-American college kid from Queens, Nas Khan, who is questioned, then arrested, for the murder of a young woman he picked up in his father’s cab one night while on the way to a party. The original story comes from across the pond (England), where the accused suspect was played by boyish/waifish Ben Whishaw; that story was focused on class from what I’ve heard. This version doesn’t shy away from the fact that the suspect is a Muslim male, or the inherent suspicions that come w/ that in post-9/11 era.
NOTE: This is a SPOILER-FREE review.
First of all, Oprah is NOT the star of this show (SOME will be disappointed by this fact); she is a recurring character- Mavis, a bar owner and older sister of the Greenleaf family matriarch, Lady Mae (Lynn Whitfield). The show, focusing on a black family running a megachurch in Memphis (where Oprah grew up), was created by Craig Wright (a former pastor). Yes, he’s a white man, but also a close friend of Oprah. Wright calls the show a “collaboration,” where he takes in feedback from regular church-going consultants and the lead actors.
The viewer is put in the shoes of the main protagonist, Grace (AKA GiGi), played by theater veteran Merle Dandridge (check out this fun interview on Live! w/ Kelly). She is tall, elegant, and a single mom; she is also a journalist (by profession). As a very young woman, she used to preach at Calvary (as the town car driver recalls). GiGi returns home from Phoenix (after 20 yrs away) w/ her teen daughter, Sophia (Desiree Ross), for the funeral of one of her younger sisters (Faith). The house (or estate) has changed a LOT from that of her childhood, she tells Sophia. At the gates, she is surprised to find her (very handsome) old flame, Noah (Benjamin Patterson), who is head of security for Calvary.
The prodigal daughter returns… -Bishop James Greenleaf (Keith David) greets his daughter with these words, a big smile, and long hug
You’re not here to sow discord in the fields of my peace? -Lady Mae asks GiGi
We see that Faith’s funeral is just family; also, she’s NOT buried in a graveyard. Hmmm… At the family dinner (served by uniformed staff a la Downton Abbey), Gigi endures a trial by fire, which is lead by her sister-in-law/principal of a private charter school, Kerissa (Kim Hawthorne). Her mother backs up Kerissa (as seen in the clip below from the pilot ep).
One viewer called this show “a gospel version of Empire.” As the FOX drama takes music seriously, THIS show takes religion (Christianity) seriously. From the eps so far, religion is NOT the problem, it’s the covering up of (ugly) truths. Saving face is also a big theme in this show; people will go to GREAT lengths to preserve their positions and respect w/in the church/family. OK, so maybe that reminds you of soap operas? BUT those would never cover Black Live Matter (as we see in Episode 4). I’m not calling this MUST-SEE, but there are issues in this show that I feel are worth considering.