I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Whitney Houston Biopic)

The Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody will take audiences on a nostalgic, emotional rollercoaster. This film shows Houston’s meteoric rise to fame, her drug abuse and her personal relationships. The film also features Whitney’s actual vocals which will give you goosebumps.

The screenplay was written by Anthony McCarten who also wrote Bohemian Rhapsody. His screenplay perfectly captures Whiney’s ascend to fame starting in the 80’s but modernizes it so that it the story feels fresh and relevant to today’s audiences.

The high-budget picture featured brilliant performances from a stellar ensemble cast. There was not a weak performance in the entire film. (Naomi Ackie) who plays a spirited, haunted and down to earth Whitney captured the late star’s elegance, haunted spirit and determination. The always brilliant Stanley Tucci brought new life to music mogul Clive Davis, Tamara Tunie shined as a strong and talented Cissy Houston and Nafessa Williams brought a lot of heart to the role of Robyn, Whitney’s steadfast best friend. Ashton Sanders did an amazing job playing the well-intentioned, energetic and problematic Bobby Brown.

The film revisits some of Whitney’s most iconic performances, namely the National Anthem at the 1991 Super bowl, and her cover of the now renouned hit “I will always love you.” This film is more than a trip down memory lane, it’s a fitting homage to one of the greatest vocalist of our time.

I Wanna Dance With Somebody opens in theaters on December 23, 2023.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Woman King

Viola Davis as General Nanisca in The Woman King

For the first time in American cinematic history, Hollywood decided to make a film about African-female warriors. The Woman King is the awe-inspiring story of the Agojie a real group of West-African warriors from the 1800’s. These skilled and advanced African heroes historically defended their home in the kingdom Dahomey from European invaders.

This film is loosely based on historical events. It also features stunning performances by Oscar winner Viola Davis as General Nanisca, the fearless and adept leader who trains the group as they prepare for battle.

Beauty Lashana Lynch will make you cry as Izogie, a den-mother type member of the clan, and newcomer Thuso Mbedu (Nawi) is an enigmatic young heroine that will make you root for her success.

The film also featured an African-American woman at the helm of the production. Gina Prince-Bythewood co-wrote (with Dana Stevens) and directed the film.

The Woman King feels like a tropey ,Disneyesque , warrior princess film. The fight scenes feel more theatrical than cinematic and the film was peppered with contrived and unrealistic moments like during a physical conflict when an Agojie soldier dies and is mourned by a surviving tribe member for an extended period of time right in front of the enemy, who does not retaliate in any way.

The story is seemingly geared at younger audiences, it is an important story for young people to be aware of, but with a 2 hour and 14 minute run time, it may be too long and winding for them.

The Woman King is in theaters today.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Erzulie

2022 Erzulie

Country USA

Director – Christine W Chen

Writer-Christine W Chen – Camille Gladney

Erzulie Film Poster.

Erzulie is fantasy/horror film that depicts a goddess heroine named Erzulie.(Leila Annastasia Scott)

Erzulie protects women and children. She appears in two variants, once as a mermaid, and again as a human- like creature with two legs and bipedal movement.

In the film the villains are abusive, trashy men. We see Brock(Andrew P. Morgan) obnoxiously throw a soda can and hit a young woman in the face. This immature and unnecessary act, costs him his life, as moments later, his karma catches up to him in the form of a sea monster dragging him into the water, ripping him into pieces and leaving a bloody puddle on the waters surface!

Throughout the movie, we notice an obvious message, how the mistreatment of women by men leads to unnecessary suffering and oppression .

Erzulie highlights the topics of diversity, female empowerment, and environmental protection.

This film is recommended for ages 13+.

The setting is in the bayou of Louisiana, the cast’s wardrobes are cute and trendy. Erzulie has a really neat mermaid fluke and looks absolutely stunning as a sea goddess.

The film was able to add special effects and had multiple venues like swamplands,that show the beauty of the countryside, and provide further evidence that ecosystems with abundant animal life are worthy of protection.

The soundtrack includes original hits such as To The Crows by The Midnight Preachers, and Down in the Delta by Dave Kellan. The soundtrack is an eclectic mix that reflects the Louisiana swampland setting.

Overall this is a movie that has a lot to offer, for a diverse crowd.

We were able to get an exclusive interview the director and of the film Christina Chen, and Erzulie (Leila Annastasia Scott) This talented duo give us insight about what the film means to them, and how they want the audience to enjoy it.

Lead actress Leila Annastasia Scott and TMR at the 2022 Asian Film Festival of Dallas.

TMR: Without giving us too many spoilers what is the mood of the movie
CC: Feminist thriller swamp mermaid
LAS: Jaws, Splash, The Craft… so like 90’s throwback films
CC: Sleepover vibes
TMR: What would you like the audience to take away from this film? When they walk out of the theatre how do you want them to feel?
CC :I want women all over the world to feel like they are powerful and beautiful. No matter what trauma they are going through, and (I want them to know) they
can always rely on their ride or die friends. Also there should be (minority)representation(in film).

LAS: Christina is the first director to ever to have a Black mermaid film in theatres. There is no other Black mermaid, the Disney film is coming out next year, I’m the only one.
TMR: Wow. There are so many people that will look at this film and be inspired.

LAS: That’s what we want, and we also want them to know that friendships are more important than relationships. You see this in the camaraderie in the film; regardless of their issues they still work together no matter what ,until the end. It shows true friendships and true love.

TMR: What was the most rewarding aspect of making this film?
CC:I think just working with the team and seeing the completed film . I mean we were in prep during Covid. Seeing Erzulie in her full regalia when coming out of
the water, I mean I’ve never done prosthetics at all, so going in and seeing that it’s going to work is great.(Also the learning process)This is all gonna fall apart, is this more of a good idea, and then seeing wow this is totally worth
this.
LAS: Okay I’m just gonna be honest the best takeaway was learning how to be a mermaid and having a team of people carry me. I would say that hearing all of the tenacity between producers (and being a part of a)women produced ,women directed and women cast film was so incredibly empowering in itself.
There were so many firsts that I’d never seen, and a lot of people are too afraid to touch (certain things)so it’s empowering enough to see those things when we watch ourselves. When working on a film like this you have to learn to really go against the grain, which we did.
TMR: What was your favorite part of bringing Erzulie to life?
LAS As an actress it was amazing ,doing the research on the character
and finding so many similarities between herself and myself.
I (also)love that it’s based on Haitian voodoo, so little Haitian children hearing this would be able to understand , because as children growing up they’ve heard of this mermaid goddess who protects women and children. Also there are similarities between myself and the character. For instance, she likes white flowers, I like white flowers. She likes chicken, I like chicken. I feel like growing up a lot of people have things that happen to them. (Growing up) I didn’t have anyone that was there(for me) so, I love that I can embody that protection for someone else that I didn’t get.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

This Article was written by Jonathan Colerangle.

In Memoriam: Happy Birthday Marcus Raphael Gonzales Decardenas

Marcus Raphael Gonzales Decardenas aka Markeisha aka Keisha, was my second, first best friend. Second in order of the time we met, not second in terms of importance or endearment. He was my second longest, best friend. We met when we were in elementary school in kindergarten or first grade.  

Even as a child he was funny, shy, astute, gentle and kind. 

A photo of Marcus from our Elementary choir yearbook.

There are so many wonderful memories of my pragmatic, non judgemental and humble friend. Who, despite his genius, was never too smart to answer the most rudimentary question or too busy to come hang out. In honor of what would have been his 35th birthday, I have made a list of Marcusisms, or Markeishaisms: pro life tips I had the honor of learning from him.

1. Put yourself out there.

I hate dating. Marcus’ advice? “Get out there GIRL!”

  1. Buy the luxury item. 

Markeisha was all about treating himself well when he could. Buy the luxury item, put it to good use. Don’t lock it up somewhere only for special occasions. Every day is a special occasion. 

3.A good martini should taste like water. 

4.Be a good worker. 

Marcus was a TAG student who went on to study at MIT. He always brought a sense of humor and pride to his work. Work hard always. Have a good work ethic and be a good leader. He demonstrated his impeccable work prowess as a waiter around local Dallas restaurants. This brings me to the next Keishaism. 

5.Treat your workers kindly and with respect

6.Tip well. 

One time Marcus, my brother and I were hungry, broke kids left alone in our apartment. I had the brilliant idea of us ordering Chinese food. So we scrounged up all of our change and ordered a single entree of chicken (shrimp was out of the question) fried rice. It cost 7.99.

 Before we ordered, Marcus at 7 years old,  was the only one who noted that the delivery person would want a tip.The delivery person did in fact want a tip, which of course we had no way of providing.

Even at our elementary school ages, Marcus’ pragmatic personality contrasted with my idealistic one in the most beautiful way. 

7.You don’t have to finish a bad book. /8. Just show up. 

I was freaking out at not having finished the book club book in time for the meeting, when Marcus wisely suggested that I read the book jacket and the last 20 pages, think of something to say, and show up to the meeting with confidence. 

9.There’s no such thing as being overdressed. 

10.A phone call will always be better than a text.

Marcus would call me at all hours of the day and night. Of course I wish I could have another call from him.  

11.Norms are stupid. Break them at every and any opportunity.

At his senior prom Marcus posed for his prom photo in his suit, then took another picture wearing his prom date’s dress. He was always a fashionista. 

11.Labels are stupid. Lose them at every and any opportunity

13.There is no such thing as a dumb question.

Melyssah and Marcus at the Fort Worth Zoo (2003)

Thank you Marcus for explaining what an orgasm is to 7th grade me.  

14.Shatter illusions in any way possible./14.The truth is your friend if you allow it to be. 

 There was the time I asked out a hot-at-the time co worker. It turned out he was dating another coworker. Without allowing me to feel humiliated, Marcus quipped,” Well now you know.” 

15.Dangerous things can be  fun. 

Marcus was always down for anything, dark,edgy or taboo. He encouraged all of my hoodrat and dangerous activities and often partook in them. 

16. Don’t pry. 

17.Say yes to life

18. Appreciate things for what they are, as they are. 

19. Make yourself available to your friends.

Keisha and I were on “text me whenever” terms. In millennial speak that means, I love, you, I fuck with you, and I need you around me/ messaging me all the time.  

20.There are people who actually understand mathematics. Reach out to them in times of need. 

Keisha tutored me in math, when he wasn’t schooling me on life. 

21.Pay attention

Marcus had so many reference points from so many different, interesting areas because he always paid attention. 

22.Reinvent yourself./23. Appreciate the art of letting go 

Teachers know all about tapering down a good outfit to make it school appropriate. I once wore an Old Navy denim jacket to work, then out with Marcus that evening. He took one look at me and asked, “Is that your school marm jacket.” The jacket was donated to Goodwill. 

24. Look forward to failure as an opportunity to grow.  Fail fast and fail forward, then move on with what you’ve learned. 

24.Share knowledge. 

25. Beautiful men have horrible taste in women 

When I was devastated that my crush was dating someone else, he shared another fun fact with me, “beautiful men have horrible taste in women.”

26.Beauty is everywhere

Keisha was always telling me how he met this beautiful man or that beautiful man. I wonder if he knew that the beauty he saw in others was a reflection of the beauty he possessed. 

Like the most maddeningly  , alluring people, Marcus understood that one’s beauty was for others to appreciate  and for you to be vaguely aware of. 

26. There are people who will love you for who you truly are. Once you find them, never let them go. 

In a truly epic and catastrophically premature way ,Marcus has left us in the flesh, but has become omnipresent. He is in the freshly fallen rain drops on the leaves, he is in the splurge purchase you  wanted but didn’t know you needed. He is in every myth and lie you will bust, and in all of the fun, hoodrat choices you will go on to make. 

Marcus is here,  in every witty and sarcastic joke, in every pop culture reference made so seamlessly, in every display of compassion for all living things, and in every act of reverence towards beauty and culture. 

Marcus lives on in the art of being an aware and sensitive citizen of the world. With every smile and every good book you read, and every awesome new friend you will go on to make , Marcus-Markeisha will  live on in you and in me. 

He wasn’t very religious but I believe that God gave him to me to be one of the greatest loves of my life and for that I will be forever grateful. So live on, and rest easy,our beautiful, one of a kind, genius.  Happy birthday. 

A New Old Play

In this film, an aged leading clown in a theatre troupe dies and revisits his life in the underworld. Before the screening, film director  Qiu Jiongjiong  gave us a brief synopsis of the film, and noted that the film was created in a studio, there were no outdoor shots in the movie.

At 179 minutes with subtitles, countless characters, pre-communist China and an oblong shaped pumpkin wrapped up and held like a baby, this film was more of a palate cleanser for me. It was very hard to follow, but for the historians among us, there may be something to hold on two, for over two hours. If you do find it, please let me know.

A still image from A New Old Play

Rating: 1 out of 5.

The 21st Asian Film Festival Of Dallas

From July 21st-July 24th the Asian Film Festival of Dallas will happen at the Angelika Film Center, Dallas. This annual film festival is in full swing, celebrating its 21st year. So take the time to take in great films celebrating and presenting Asian and Asian-American filmmakers and culture in cinema. For more information and tickets please visit asianfilmdallas.com.

Unleashed A Beachy Anthology

I am thrilled to announce that a short story I wrote will be featured in an upcoming anthology, alongside 14 other stories by very talented writers from one of my writing groups, Unleashing the Next Chapter. This book will be a fun beach-inspired read.

Blood In Blood Out

So my students recommend movies to me all the time. Keep in mind that I mostly teach teenagers currently so the last film I watched that they recommended was “How to Be a Latin Lover.” I wasn’t able to finish it. However, they really respect Blood in Blood out a movie that was released in 1993, A decade + years before they were even born.

Two half-brothers and a cousin full of piss and vigor get themselves involved in life-altering compromises.

This movie was three hours of my life, that I don’t want to get back. It was that awesome. Great storyline, double crossing everywhere you turn and a young Benjamin Bratt , Delroy Lindo and an Aryan Brotherhood Billy Bob Thornton! They filmed in an actual prison, and used real prisoners as extras… Need I say more?

Benjamin Bratt as Paco with Carlos Carrasco as Popeye in 1993’s Blood In Blood Out

If you’ve watched this before, it may be time for a re-watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Eat Drink Man Woman

Sihung Lung as Chu and Chien-Lien Wu as Jia Chen in Ang Lee’s 1994 hit Eat Drink Man Woman .

Thankfully I got a notification alerting me about the movies leaving Kanopy this month. If you don’t know about Kanopy, it’s an awesome, free movie streaming service that allows students, professors or public library card holders to stream incredible films.

So, Eat Drink Man Woman was on my list for a while, and I finally got the chance to watch it. This is such a beautiful film. Stunning cinematography showcasing the bustling Taiwanese landscape, an amazing story line about a renowned chef and widower Chu who lives with his three brilliant and strong-willed daughters. I won’t spoil the plot for you, but it’s a film about food and the difference between truly living and merely existing.

The film was nominated for best foreign film at the 1995 academy awards, but lost to Burnt By the Sun. It is an incredible film.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Good Latimer (2021)

Kitchen Dog Theater

Show Runs From October 8 – 24, 2021

Good_Latimer_PR_031_torn copy (1).jpg
Guinea Bennet-Price and Jamal Sterling star as a struggling couple in Good Latimer at The Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas. Photo by Matt Mrozek.

The deterioration of a middle-aged, working class, childless Black couple from Dallas, Texas ,isn’t the usual subject of a play, so Angela Hanks’ Good Latimer is a welcome and timely work of art.

This charming and universal play offers an intimate look inside of an overlooked part of the Dallas microcosm. Ravinia and Good are a couple celebrating, er enduring 35 years together. One day Ravinia wakes up and realizes that she is no longer in love with her devoted, albeit unsatisfying partner, Good. This play is an exploration of the transformation of their partnership as Ravinia makes the brave and bold move to choose herself.

Hanks_Headshot cropped.png
Playwright Angela Hanks will be in attendance at the World Premiere of her play Good Latimer. Photo by Molly Hagan.

The script is rife with Dallas references and delights as it explores the metamorphosis of two lovers as one begins the quest to find their truth and the other struggles to reinstate what is being transfigured. There is lots of tension, struggle and dramatic static as both characters work voraciously towards opposing goals.

Ravinia and Good are portrayed by two Dallas -based acting juggernauts, Guinea Bennet-Price and Jamal Sterling, who also happen to be Dallas ISD theatre arts directors. Both partners in the play hold their own, masterfully capturing the essence of Hanks’ words and expertly building this world though bold acting choices and depth of character. It is easy to root for both characters as the actors display their acting prowess.

Guinea Bennet Price, Rhonda Boutlè and Jamal Sterling star in Good Latimer at the Kitchen Dog Theater. Photo by Matt Mrozek.

The on stage couple is joined by Dallas legend Rhonda Boutlè, who plays a direct and helpful octogenarian, one of those quirky and unforgettable characters that one encounters at the bus stop. As always, Boutlè delivers a riveting and astute performance.

The production quality is excellent. The intimate stage space is expertly manipulated into submission as the city of Dallas comes to life right before the audience’s eyes, through the use of carefully thought out set details, like an Observer newspaper stand and a DART bus sign. There is even a scene with a functioning jack hammer on stage.

It is said that through the specific, writing becomes universal. You don’t have to be a DART rider from Dallas in an unhappy union to enjoy this gratifying production.

Good Latimer is a well-done piece of theatre that should not be missed. COVID protocols will be followed. Please see Kitchen Dog’s website for COVID protocol.

The World Premier of Good Latimer is tonight at the Trinity River Arts Center. For tickets please visit:

https://kitchendogtheater.secure.force.com/ticket/#/events/a0S5c00000FECTJEA5

BOX OFFICE: 214 953 1055

PERFORMANCE ADDRESS: 2600 N Stemmons Fwy, Suite 180 Dallas, TX 75207

Ticket Prices:

Adult: $20 (Thurs/Sun) & $30 (Fri/Sat)

Student, Senior, KERA Discounts: $15 (Thurs/Sun) & $25 (Fri/Sat)


Subject to availability – Box Office Opens 30 Minutes Prior to Curtain

cast:

Ravinia Whitfield: Guinea Bennett-Price Good Latimer: Jamal Sterling*^ Faith Lester: Rhonda Boutté *

production team:

Director: Christopher Carlos*+ Stage Manager: Ruth Stephenson* Set Design: Jeremy Davis Light Design: Lisa Miller* Costume Design: Gelacio Gibson Sound Design: Jorge Amador Prop Design: Cindy Ernst-Godinez* Tech Director: Abby Kraemer* Assistant Technical Director: Gonzolo Novoa Covid Safety Manager: Claire Carson *KDT Company Members *+ KDT Co-Artistic Director *^ Member of Actor’s Equity Association