Top 10 Moments from Selma (NOW PLAYING)


NOTE: This post contains mild SPOILERS.

10) J. Edgar Hoover (Dylan Baker) tells President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) that the FBI can create a wedge in the family of MLK, Jr. (David Oyelowo).  

9) Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo) quietly meets with Malcolm X in a church.  He offers assistance to the movement. 


8)  Annie Lee Cooper (Oprah Winfrey) punches out a policeman who violently lay hands on her in front of the Selma courthouse.  

7) LBJ tells Governor George Wallace (Tim Roth) that “no way in Hell” will he be on the same page as the backward-thinking man when it comes to history. 

6) Coretta confronts Martin about her fears and insecurities, including the other women in his life.    

5) Rev. Reeve, a white Episcopal priest from Boston, is attacked by a group of young (also white) men.  (I didn’t know about this event before!)



4) The prayer on the Edmund Pettis Bridge- a silent, BUT powerful moment.

3) Some little girls in their Sunday best discussing Coretta’s hair before the church bombing (of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham). 

Selma_already prepared  

2) Amelia Boynton’s “you are already prepared” speech to Coretta- VERY well-written, touching, and inspiring!  (Ms. Boynton is still alive at age 103!  She’ll be a guest of honor on Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech.)


1) MLK, Jr.’s emotionally-charged speech at Jimmie Lee Jackson’s funeral.  (Jimmy, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed by a state trooper in a diner.  This was witnessed by his mother and elderly grandfather.)


Into the Woods (NOW PLAYING)

NOTE: This is a SPOILER-FREE review.

The Witch (Meryl Streep) wishes to reverse a curse to restore her beauty.
The Witch (Meryl Streep) wishes to reverse a curse to restore her beauty.

Anything can happen in the woods…

I saw this movie musical last weekend with my parents; they are both big fans of Meryl Streep.  We didn’t know what to expect, since we hadn’t seen the play or read up on many details.  I just thought it was a reimagining of several fairy tales with songs.  It was directed by Rob Marshall (who has an unexpected hit with Chicago).

The Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) wish for a child.
The Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) wish for a child.

We were pleasantly surprised to see that Emily Blunt was a key role- she plays The Baker’s Wife.  The Baker is played by a likeable Everyman type, James Corden, who is from the theater world.  These actors had good chemistry together and made a quite believable couple.  They were the center of the story. 

The Wolf is played by Johnny Depp.
The Wolf is played by Johnny Depp.

Stay a child while you can be a child.

The Wolf (Johnny Depp in a small role) has a song about the deliciousness of Little Red Riding Hood and Granny; this bordered on controversy because of the lyrics.  The song was changed from the original version (which was heard by playgoers).

Cinderella’s stepmother is played by Christine Baranski (center).

Fans of The Good Wife will get a kick out of seeing Broadway vet Christine Baranski and Tammy Blanchard (who had a recurring roles on the courtroom drama series).  I got a kick out of their outlandish hairstyles and clothes.  And the trying on the shoe part- well. you’ll see! 

Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) is indecisive about The Prince.
Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) is indecisive about The Prince.
Cinderella’s prince is played by Chris Pine (right).

Careful the path they take, wishes come true, not free.

Anna Kendrick seemed to be miscast as Cinderella; she even admitted that she thought she’d be cast as Red.  The two princes have a hilarious duet along a waterfall (Agony)!  Chris Pine, who actually looks good with a bit of a beard (unlike many men), said he did a Captain Kirk (William Shatner) impression at one point in the number.  (I’m sure the Trekkies out there will notice it.)  Pine did a good job with the material, I was surprised to see! 

Aside from Streep, Blunt, and Corden, young Daniel Huttlestone does a good job.  You may remember him from the latest Les Miserables film, where he also sang.  Tracey Ullman provided some bits of comedy as Jack’s irritable/critical mother.   

Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) with his cow and mother (Tracey Ullman).

One reviewer (IMDB) commented: “I think that the later half of the movie, after the ‘happily ever after’ scene, was not given the same attention as the first half of the movie.  It felt like someone stepped in at the last moment and said: Hey, movies shouldn’t be allowed to have a happy fairy tale ending anymore. Let’s add some grim to it.”  In response, a theatergoer said: “The stage show has a two act structure that works a lot better. The first act is the fairy tale happy ever after. The second, which takes place roughly a year later, is what happens when you get your wish but are still unsatisfied and want for more. The second act is really a metaphor for greed and looking a gift horse in the mouth.”  If you want more analysis of the film, check out this podcast ep!

Being Mary Jane (Season 1)

SPOILERS: Don’t read this review if you have not yet seen or don’t want to know details from Season 1 of the BET drama series Being Mary Jane.

Mary Jane on her primetime TV show "Talkback"
Mary Jane on her primetime TV show “Talkback”

I discovered this fabulous TV show 2 weeks ago (thanks to Netflix), and binged watch the pilot movie and 1st season over 3 days!  Being Mary Jane is set in Atlanta and centers on an ambitious, gorgeous, and very complicated (therefore relateable) TV talk show host named Mary Jane Paul (Gabrielle Union).  She’s in her mid-30s, black, and has never been married- VERY common in the U.S in our modern times.  Women of color will be (especially) able to relate to this show.

David & Mary Jane have a hard time breaking up

Hey, it’s not ALL about glitz and guys (as may seem from the ads).  Aside from two loves- the fallen family man, Andre (Omari Hardwick) and IT entrepreneur, David (Stephen Bishop), Mary Jane (real name: Pauletta Patterson) has to juggle a complicated (extended) family, close girlfriends, a closeted gay pal, among others.  The supporting characters add flavor to this multifaceted drama. 

In the movie pilot, Mary Jane discovers that the man she’s been seeing for the last several months (and fallen in love with) is already married when she steps on his wedding band while retrieving his clothes- how awful!  She promptly kicks Andre out of her house and turns the water hose on him- kinda funny.  This sets the tone of the show- you rarely get what you expect. 

Girls' night in
Girls’ night in

At work, Mary Jane has a strong alliance with her executive producer, Kara (Lisa Vidal), a powerful Latina in her 40s.  Her time-consuming job has taken a toll on her marriage, causing much regret.  These BFFs talk about everything, no matter how uncomfortable!  They have a long-term plan to gain more power, so that they can present stories they feel are more socially relevant.  Kara is tough because she has to be, but when it comes to her two sons, she can get emotional.  In one ep, she admits that her ex-husband, John, is the better parent. 

Niecy talks with Mary Jane

Mary Jane has been a positive role model to the teenaged Niecy (Raven Goodwin), the eldest daughter of her older brother, Patrick (Richard Brooks).  However, Niecy has a serious self-esteem problem (considers herself  to be ugly) and pregnant with her second child.  When she confesses that the father is her Filipino-American boyfriend, Dante, Patrick comments how these [immigrant] boys are “trying so hard to be thugs” to fit in with the black kids.

Mary Jane gets Niecy an appointment with her close/long-time friend, Dr. Lisa Hudson (Latarsha Rose), a sought-after OB-GYN (ironically celibate).  Lisa has a tendency toward depressive moods, though she’s religious (referring to God and The Bible on several occasions).  Like Mary Jane, she’s also single and has a lovely house all to herself.

Patrick (a recovering cocaine addict), his white/much younger girlfriend Tracy, and their young kids have been living in the family home for the last three years.  He helps his mother keep track of all her meds.  Patrick, a rather stoic man who once managed the hottest club in town, even provides some relationship advice to Mary Jane.  

The “baby” (and future hope) of the family is Mary Jane’s younger brother, Paul Jr, a cute, smart and charming college student in his mid-20s.  It boggles the mind that he is selling drugs on the side, until he explains wanting pay back his parents for the tuition, room, and board they’ve provided.  In on ep, he gets legal help via Andre, who’s old pals with a cop.     

Mark (one of my fave characters) anchors a news show

Aside from her neighbor/co-worker, Mark (Aaron D. Spears), Mary Jane has another male supporter- her father Paul, Sr. (veteran actor Richard Roundtree).  He was in the armed forces, then a commercial pilot, and eventually the first black board member on an airline company. 

Mary Jane with the most solid man in her life- her dad

In one poignant scene, Paul, Sr. softly admits to his daughter “sometimes, I wish she’d just die” about his fading wife, Helen (Margaret Avery from The Color Purple).  He adds: “I hope you get to experience love like that someday.”  Wow…  It turns out that Helen suffers from lupus.  Later on in the series, Helen laments the loss of her looks to Mary Jane (which she had so much pride in).  I’ve NEVER seen any series, focusing on a single woman, that rings this true-to-life emotionally (not unlike SATC and Girls).

Today’s Special (2009)


See Aasif Mandvi before he got famous (I did- he visited an youth center where I volunteered)!  While he was pretty awkward with the teens (he’s a single guy with no kids), the theatrically-trained actor has become a name in comedy, thanks to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  Recently, he relased his funny memoir- No Land’s Man


harishpatel_todaysspecialMandvi recently commented that the romance was tacked on to market the story, but it’s essentially a story about dealing with your past (in this case, one’s heritage and father)  in order to move forward in life.  NYC-based sous chef Samir (Mandvi) is passed over for a much-anticipated promotion by his egotistical boss/chef, Steve (Dean Winters of Oz and SVU fame).  He goes back to check out how things are going in the family restaurant (Tandoori Palace) in the old ‘hood.  This film was mainly shot inside an Indian restaurant in my old ‘hood (Jackson Heights, Queens) in the Summer of 2008.  (I noticed that there was a covering around it for a few days, with a few young PAs hanging about.)   His father Hakim (Harish Patel, an Indian TV star) is shocked to see Samir out of the blue.  Suddenly, a health issue forces Hakim to rest at home, and Samir takes over the restaurant.


Samir, who knows nothing re: Indian food, luckily meets Akbar (Naseeruddin Shah, a veteran of international cinema)- a horrid taxi driver but  masterful chef.   Shah steals the film with his charm, humor, and laid-back style.  Rarely has an elderly desi man been so cool!  This is one father-figure that understands Samir easily, unlike his own dad. 


Ironically, actress/cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey (mother of Mandv’is close pal, Sakina) does no cooking here!  (Sakina Jaffrey played the VP on House of Cards recently.)  She plays Samir’s matchmaking mom, Farida, who sets him up on dates w/ Indian-American women via an online database (like  LOL… or is this getting TOO real for some of you?  There are some touching scenes in this film,  aside from the relatable comedy (esp. for desi Muslims out there).  Check this film (on Netflix now) out ASAP! 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (NOW PLAYING)

By now, my regular readers know that I’m watching these movies for Richard Armitage… and also Martin Freeman.  Like my lil sis and BIL (they watched w/ me, lil bro, & Mom during the holiday break) said, these don’t come close to the LOTR films. Well, at least we finished the trilogy out.  For those who wanted fighting, you won’t be disappointed here!  For those of us who wanted more characterization, our time has ended (as Elrond said re: elves). 

Bard the Bowman (and his adorable kids) create some family drama with their chemistry/dynamics.  Gandalf is a part of the film, too.  Fans of Orlando Bloom will be happy to see more (unrealistic) stunts and tricks from Legolas.  I honestly didn’t mind the Kili and Tauriel parts, though I thought she was too emotional (in the end) for an elf.  Book readers, I’m sure you didn’t want these elves around!  

Armitage does get a FEW nice moments, though I think more could’ve been explored with his dragon sickness.  As for the other dwarves, they are just hanging out in the background (too bad).  I liked the opening sequence (with Smaug).  Later on, I enjoyed the precision of the army of elves and the regular folk of the town trying to protect themselves (as best as they could).  Overall, see it for the (continuing) special effects and the deaths (NOT a shock to you, I hope)!