Into the Badlands (AMC): Introduction

 

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Into the Badlands is super important to the discussion of representation for interracial relationships, particularly interracial relationships between two non-white individuals…

-The Nerds of Color (NOC) blog

I first “heard” about this show a few days ago from one of the ladies I follow on Twitter (Monique). And it turns out that she’s NOT the only fan out there! MANY black women, as well as Asian- American men, were tweeting about Into the Badlands. After all, it’s quite rare to see a Chinese-American man, Sunny (Daniel Wu) and a black woman, Veil (Madeleine Mantock) in a romantic relationship. 

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Aramis Knight as M.K. – Into the Badlands _ Season 1, Epsiode 1 – Photo Credit: Patti Perret/AMC

Hmmm… HOW to describe this show to a newbie? It’s (obviously) a martial arts epic, BUT there are elements of the Western (minus the guns), Southern Gothic (it’s shot on location in Louisiana), mythical (based loosely on a Chinese story: Journey To The West), and superhero genres (see M.K. ‘s secret powers) also. In some ways, it’s like our (modern) world, yet there are no guns used (BUT plenty of knives, swords, and other sharp objects). Warning: This is NOT for those of you who are scared of (fake) blood and violence (which almost reaches Game of Thrones levels). 

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The Fort is the domain of Baron Quinn (Marton Csokas).

Badlands is that society where society has kind of gone back to feudal times, and one of the main ideas was this “steampunk” aesthetic, to make things futuristic yet seem old at the same time since in this world, digital technology is all gone…  Daniel Wu

If you liked Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (like me), then you should definitely give it a watch!  I esp. like the wire work, which elevates the martial arts to another level (NOT that I’m an expert, of course). I’ve seen some eps of Kung Fu: The Legend Continues and Vanishing Son (which starred Chines/Swedish-American actor Russell Wong). M.K. (Aramis Knight- a teen actor w/ Pakistani and German heritage) is one of the Colts, or Clippers (warriors) in training. The actor didn’t have martial arts training before he got hired on the show, but had played sports and stayed at a low level of body fat. After I read up a BIT re: Knight’s background, I thought: Hell yes, this show has TWO Asian-American leads!  

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Quinn’s main house (Evergreen Plantation of Django Unchained)

The dialogue on this show (so far- I’ve seen 3 eps) is NOT George Lucas Star Wars prequel-level bad, though it’s far from Shakespearean (as we find in Deadwood). Some of the BEST lines are given to the main villain, Quinn (Marton Csokas from Lord of the Rings), who is BOTH a father-figure and a boss to Sunny (who is The Regent, the head of the Clipper force). Yes, this show is VERY immersive- it’s even got it’s own vocabulary! You can watch Season 1 on Netflix or on YouTube (which includes behind the scenes videos). 

 

 

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Moonlight (2016): Academy Award Winner for Best Picture 

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A poster for the film featuring the three lead actors playing Chiron.

“Moonlight” is both a disarmingly, at times almost unbearably personal film and an urgent social document, a hard look at American reality and a poem written in light, music and vivid human faces. A.O. Scott (The New York Times)

The fragility and preciousness of the spirit, the odds that are stacked against sensitivity, the distortions that can be inflicted on the soul — these are familiar subjects and sources of passion in literature and film. In “Moonlight”… they find fresh and renewed expression. -Mike LaSalle (The San Francisco Chronicle)

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Director Barry Jenkins said that Harris’ portrayal was inspired by both his mother and that of the screenwriter (Tarrel Alvin McCraney).

At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you’re going to be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you. -Juan tells 9 y.o. Chiron (AKA Little)

This gem of a film was shot (on location, mainly in Liberty City section of Miami) over a mere 25 days- WOW! British actress Naomi Harris (Paula) had a quite busy schedule, so her parts were filmed over 15 days. I FINALLY saw this movie last week; it stayed on my mind for the next couple of days. The acting is VERY good, BUT much is also done w/ silence, cinematography, and music. 

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Father figure Juan (Mahershala Ali) teaches Little (Alex Hibbert) to swim in the ocean.

If you watch this actor closely, not only is he in the moment, but his body seems to be in constant motion even when he is sitting still. Like a hummingbird. -Excerpt from IMDB review of Mahershala Ali

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Little (Alex Hibbert) forms a friendship with Kevin.

You feel as if you are watching a real boy cope with life.There are parts where the film asks you what would you do IF you were Chiron? The camera is placed so that it puts you (the viewer) in the place of Chiron. 

Stop putting yo’ head down in my house! You know my rule. It’s all love and all pride in this house! Do you feel me? -Teresa declares to teenaged Chiron

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I was MOST impressed by teenage Chiron (Ashton Sanders- now age 21).

The main conflict is Chiron’s inability to define himself. We realize that he doesn’t fit into any of the categories available to him, so he forces himself into the tough guy persona of Black (last third of the film). 

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Black (Trevante Rhodes) reunites with a grown-up Kevin (Andre Holland) in Miami.
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Black (Trevante Rhodes) gives Kevin (Andre Holland) a ride home.

I was VERY pleasantly surprised to see Andre Holland (who I just fell in love w/ in The Knick)! He has a LOT of charm and ease as Kevin, a man who turned his life around after a rough life as a teen/young man. He is surprised to see how Chiron (AKA Black) has turned out, yet also concerned. Heck, I want Kevin to cook ME dinner… LOL!  I’d never seen Trevante Rhodes before, BUT now I’m hoping that he gets some more meaty roles in which he can showcase his talent. Check out this film for yourself (if you haven’t yet)! 

Greenleaf (Season 1): Episodes 11-13

NOTE: This post contains SPOILERS for the TV drama series, including the Season 1 finale.  Season 2 begins March 15, 2017 on OWN.

Episode 11: Men Like Trees Walking

Sophia is a very interesting character, she is the only pure & innocent one I hope she doesn’t get lost in all the adult turmoil.

Grace loves Noah because based on what she told him, he is “home” to her. Isabelle to me is controlling and insecure, Noah seems more himself with Gigi… with Isabelle, he seems uncertain… and if this were reality, Isabelle should probably move on (that’s what a real friend would tell her) as Noah is indecisive and you don’t marry indecisive.

-Comments from viewers

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The Bishop (Keith David) has many worries on his mind.

Calvary is losing money and members, b/c of recent scandals (murder of Officer Nelson; shooting of Mac); the deacon board is NOT happy. Gigi learns that Ray is taking her to court for custody of Sophia. Bishop won’t speak to Gigi. Jacob, realizing that his father won’t give him back his role (assistant pastor), meets w/ the minister of Triumph Church, Bassie Skanks, Bishop’s rival. Charity decides to record a CD of songs to sell online to raise money for the church. Kevin (still sleeping on the couch) gets closer to Adrian. Mac, who is in jail, has questions about Hell.

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Jacob (Lamman Rucker) playing basketball at Trinity Church.

This ep pits the women against the men, in various different ways. Alexa is back, w/ a lawyer, b/c she MAY sue Calvary for firing her. Jacob is shocked to see her again; I (briefly) wondered if he still cared for Alexa. Bishop comments: “Pray for her. She’s chosen the hard road.” Hmmm… what exactly could that mean? What did you think of the (sly) way that Jacob approached Skanks at the basketball court? Skanks reveals to Jacob that Alexa attends Triumph. Jacob says that won’t be a problem if he comes to work there. 

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Lady Mae (Lynn Whitfield) talks to Kevin (Tye White) re: his troubled marriage.

Did you think that Charity was being TOO hard on Kevin? After all, we know that Kevin has NOT cheated yet; he’s just looking at pics of men. However, he did enjoy chatting (and also flirting a BIT) w/ Adrian in the past. Kevin and Adrian go out to dinner at a nice restaurant (w/ candles). Hmmm… I was NOT expecting that to happen! Commentators said that Kevin was testing himself. Adrian walks out when Kevin declares: “I’m not gay.”

Episode 12: Veni, Vidi, Veci

Deacon Sykes (Connie) discusses women’s day with Lady Mae and wants Gigi to preach; Mavis has problems with her club- it’s going to have to close. Gigi, Ray, and Sophia attend the custody hearing. Charity and Kevin talk about his feelings.

Kevin finally tells his wife that he has feelings for men. Charity (understandably) gets VERY upset, slaps and hits him, and then doubles over in pain- YIKES! She is taken away to the hospital in an ambulance; Kevin goes w/ her. The rest of the family looks on w/ worry.

Episode 13: What Are You Doing Here? 

Bishop visits Mac, and Mac asks him to be a character witness at his hearing. Bishop refuses, even though Mac threatens him re: some secret they share. Skanks drives Jacob to a plot of land across from Calvary where he intends to build a $40 million community center for Triumph. Henry (Mac and Lady Mae’s father) comes again to Calvary, but is stopped by Noah.Grace learns that Henry is terminally ill; she asks Kevin to help find Henry a hospice, and Kevin agrees.

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Gigi (Merle Dandridge) learns of her father’s illness.

At the annual ladies’ lunch, Lady Mae gives a sermon (“The Virtuous Woman”) and the the audience misinterpret it as her endorsement of Gigi. The ladies give a standing ovation to Gigi. Lady May looks on in dismay; she had been wanting to preach herself

Gigi tells her dad that she wants to go back to Phoenix with Sophia, but Bishop reveals that he has Parkinson’s and needs her to stay and preach. (Charity guessed something was wrong in Ep. 12.) Bishop knows that Gigi is a leader, like him; Jacob can’t fill that role. 

Bishop tells Jacob the Lord’s will is for him to be his eyes and ears at Basie’s new community center. Jacob is surprised; he hadn’t thought of his work in THAT way before. We know that Bishop can be sly! What do you think of Pastor Skanks? He seems like he could be up to something shady. 

Kevin is looking at a pic of a handsome, preppy black man on his phone. It’s NOT a guy from a hookup app; it’s a man who run a program (gay conversion therapy). He asks Charity to read about it. She does so, then decides that she needs space, so  Kevin should move out for the time being. Look at the disappointment on Kevin’s face! 

Grace takes Henry to a hospice. He reveals that Mac has been giving him hush money (as he knows re: a church that was intentionally burned down many years ago). Whoa- we need to wait to get details!

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Mavis (Oprah Winfrey) and Lady Mae (Lynn Whitfield) have a face-off.

I was impressed by the BIG fight between Lady Mae and her sister, Mavis, at Mavis’ bar. Oprah STILL has her acting chops (in case anyone doubted it), though she rarely takes roles! So far, she has appeared in 3 eps of Greenleaf.

Ray arrives (in a red convertible, as he promised) to take Sophia away for the summer. Two police cars arrive after they drive off. We see that Mac is out on probation. Cops and officials walk up the stairs; we know that they will arrest Bishop.