Shots Fired (FOX): March 22, 8PM EST

This 10-part series examines the aftermath of racially charged shootings in a small North Carolina town. It was produced by the successful/critically-acclaimed husband-wife team of Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights, The Secret Life of Bees, Love & Basketball) and Reggie Rock Bythewood (Beyond the Lights, Notorious). Aside from the timely/controversial topic, the supporting cast could be a big draw (incl. Oscar winners Richard Dreyfuss and Helen Hunt, as well as Law and Order‘s Jill Hennessey). The leads are two black actors- film veteran Sanaa Lathan (who plays investigator Ashe Akino) and up-and-comer Stephan James (federal prosecutor Preston Terry). James hails from Canada and notably played the young John Lewis in Selma. 

First Look: A Murder Myster (FOX)

 

Actors Sanaa Lathan and Mack Wilds on The View (ABC)

 

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A Few Thoughts on Kong: Skull Island, Gifted, & Get Out (SPOILER-FREE)

Kong: Skull Island

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I was surprised by HOW MUCH I enjoyed this action/special effects movie! I saw it (in IMAX 3D) at a free pre-screening last WED. You will recognize some of the actors (Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly and Toby Kebbell), BUT there are also newcomers. Unlike MOST action films, each minor character gets a moment (or two) to reveal their personality. As for Kong- he’s a BIG creature who is considered “king” of Skull Island (somewhere in the South Seas). However, there are MANY other creatures on the island, BUT I don’t want to give much away. Also, there are SOME twists that you wouldn’t necessarily expect (in this genre). If you want 2 hours of escapist fun, then definitely go check this out!   

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I saw this TERRIFIC drama starring Chris Evans (who I’d never seen before) and McKenna Grace (the child actor) last THURS (free screening). The acting is solid, the writing is smart (and sometimes funny), and the themes are universal. (You can see this film w/ the entire family!) The film centers on a single man, Frank (Evans) raising his 7 y.o. niece, Mary (Grace) in small-town Southern Florida. Their neighbor, Roberta (recent Oscar nominee Octavia Spencer), helps take care of Mary on the weekends; they all share a special bond. Frank has homeschooled Mary, BUT then decides that she needs to be w/ kids her own age. However, Mary is NO ordinary 1st grader- she’s a math prodigy (like her deceased mom). Frank wants Mary to have a normal life (friends, sports, extracurricular activities); his sister missed out on all that b/c she was mostly focused on solving one math problem.  In time, Grandmother Evelyn (British actress Lindsay Duncan), arrives from Boston to seek sole custody of Mary. There is also a nice subplot (romance) in the story which is natural and believable. I wanted to see a BIT more of Roberta’s character (b/c Spencer is such a fine actor).

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I never thought this movie would get made. Honestly! I have been on television for years and I still didn’t feel like this movie was possible.-Jordan Peele, director

I saw this film (directed by Jordan Peele) this afternoon w/ 3 of my gal pals; we ALL liked it!  The theater was packed, esp. w/ viewers in their teens and 20s. This is currently the top grossing movie at the box office. It REALLY makes you think, so be ready for some discussion after it ends. It’s NOT a typical horror genre movie- it’s more of a thriller. 

The film hits you with the scary at choice moments, which is truly some unsettling and blends it with the humor. A running joke that should’ve got more air time was the gaffe about Obama, where the father says, “I would’ve voted for a third term for Obama if I could.” Timely, if anything.  -Excerpt from okayplayer.com

The premise comes from Peele’s own life; he was once dating a young woman who didn’t tell her parents he was a black before introducing him to her (white) parents. (Peele is now married to comedian Chelsea Peretti, one of the ensemble cast on Brooklyn Nine-Nine). The film stars Daniel Kaluuya (a British actor on Season 1 of Black Mirror) and Allison Williams (Girls) as an interracial couple visiting the home (more of an estate) of the her parents (played by Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) together for the first time. Chris (Kaluuya) is a a photographer who has a reserved personality; Rose is more talkative and assertive. 

Deadwood (Season 2): Episodes 7 & 8

Episode 7: E.B. Was Left Out

Al Swearengen figures out that there is a door and walkway that connects The Gem to the newspaper office. Hmmm… could this lead to Al putting “fake news” in the paper? Guess we have to wait and see. We learn that Ms. Stokes, the teacher D.W. Merrick had been crushing on, has fled town. Then Al gives a FAB speech (pep talk w/ LOTS of cursing) to Merrick, who is looking VERY depressed after his printing press was destroyed (Ep.6). So what if he got beaten down? He’s got to keep on going! 

After Joanie Stubbs confides (re: murders of some her friends) in Charlie Utter, he gives her a hug. Later, at the hotel, Utter picks a fight w/ Wolcott and beats him up in the street. Yay, I wanted to cheer! The fight is ugly, muddy, and drawn-out. Doc tells Wolcott that he has several broken ribs, BUT he doesn’t seem too concerned re: the pain. Wolcott tells Doc to tell Utter to come see him re: Wild Bill’s last letter to his wife. Later on, he gives that letter to Utter after they have a conversation. 

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There is another council meeting (w/o E.B.- who we know has no real power as mayor) re: what to do w/ Wolcott, who MAY represent evil (or a force that’s outside their control). There are more canned peaches eaten (as we saw in S1). After a short discussion, these town leaders decide to let it go; they will do NOTHING. It’s cynical, yet probably more true to life/history than we (esp. those w/ a more idealistic nature) want to admit.  A powerful man has gotten away w/ murder! 

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Al meets w/ Alma re: Alice, the tutor who turned out to be a spy. She could be working for someone connected to Brom (her dead hubby) or another party. This is VERY well-written and acted. Alma also has a (awkward) mini-reunion w/ Seth Bullock, who learns that yes, she is pregnant w/ his child. In S2, Bullock has grown as a character (and become MORE interesting)! Yeah, he’s still angry, BUT there is a LOT of disappointment and self-loathing in the mix. He’s got more social obligations now (Martha and William); it’s not just about the hardware store or being sheriff. Bullock hates that he can’t be w/ Alma, the woman he loves, BUT he knows he brought this on himself.

Episode 8: Childish Things

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Al has a LONG monologue (reminiscent of a villain from Shakespeare). It turns out that he’s talking to a package containing the head of an Indian (Native American) chief. Dan is worried about Al; Johnny hovers around him a BIT too close. Al meets again w/ Alice (who we now know is a Pinkerton detective); he tells her that he has spoken w/ Alma. 

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Martha and William come (w/o notice) to visit Alma and Sofia at their room in the hotel. While the kids go into the bedroom to look at Sofia’s books, the ladies have a chat. It starts out nice and polite. Alma wants them to have tea, BUT she can’t manage to light the potbellied stove (being nervous and confused, I’m sure). Martha doesn’t mind that; we know she came to check out Alma from up close on her own. Since Ms. Stokes is gone, Martha suggests that she teach the children of the town. Alma looks surprised, then gets upset when Martha says that she’d like to have Sofia come and learn alongside her son. Alma insinuates that Martha wants to take Sofia under her care (like how she has done w/ Bullock).

Later on, Alma goes to Alice’s hotel room, wondering why she hasn’t left yet. Alice gets all up in her face, NOT intimidated in the least!

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It looks like everyone in town takes a FEW minutes to watch the bicycle ride. Even Wolcott manages a brief smile! 

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Utter encourages a hung-over/bruised Jane to go and meet w/ Joanie next door; she has decided to stay alone at the Chez Ami. Cy wanted Joanie to come back to the Bella Union, BUT she refused. The two women end up talking and drinking together. “Violence” happened to her friends, Jane guesses correctly. Deadwood creates odd friendships!  

I was saying to myself: “No, no, no, no, no” when I saw Wolcott walk into the Chez Ami later that night. Joanie thinks that he’s going to kill her, BUT Wolcott looks unsure (like he doesn’t know WHY he ended up there). While he is ruminating out loud, Joanie breaks a bottle against the side his head. Then she quickly locks herself in one of the bedrooms; she has her little silver pistol w/ her for protection. I REALLY don’t want anything to happen to Joanie- she’s such a great character!