After having to suffer through a week of witnessing Satan’s minions trot out a batch of Black friends, yet another instance of heinous police brutality, the subsequent domestic terrorism at a protest and a major sports strike...it feels like we’re living in a nightmarish dystopian movie. But, we’re not...I’m sorry to say that this is absolutely reality.
What are we left to do other than attempt to process all of this trauma? Find a means of escape (even though, art does tend to imitate life). That’s why I’m here. Let’s get into some of these trailers...
Anthony (Peacock; Release Date: Sept. 4, 2020)
First Impressions: This week Peacock announced a bunch of content, so expect this list to be dominated by them. First up, is Anthony, which follows the real-life tragic killing of British student Anthony Walker. The film appears to be an experimental project that explores what Anthony’s life would be like if he had lived. Whew. That is a lot to take in.
The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show (Peacock; Release Date: Sept. 10, 2020)
First Impressions: This documentary will chronicle an oft-forgotten or unknown moment in Black History. In February 1968, Harry Belafonte guest hosted The Tonight Show in place of Johnny Carson for a whole week. It marked the first time an African-American person had done so. Plus, he used his platform smartly, giving a spotlight to important Black figures such as Sidney Poitier and Martin Luther King Jr. In the trailer, Tamron Hall echoes my feelings, “How did I not know this?” Yeah, sign me all the way up for this, immediately.
Black Boys (Peacock; Release Date: Sept. 10, 2020)
First Impressions: This documentary takes the time to to celebrate the full humanity of Black boys in America because Black lives absolutely matter. They are not “Black bodies,” but fully realized human beings with feelings, thoughts and voices. From the trailer (which features notables such as Jemele Hill and Carmelo Anthony), this film looks beautiful and emotional and I’d love to see the Black Girls counterpart one day! Two-time Super Bowl champion and activist Malcolm Jenkins serves as executive producer.
The Public (Peacock; Release Date: Sept. 4, 2020)
First Impressions: I appreciate that this film will follow the impact of the public library has on homeless / houseless people. What is typically a sanctuary that provides temporary shelter as well as access to technology and information, becomes a center for conflict when a group of homeless residents of Cincinnati engage in a standoff with police in order to avoid the bitter cold. While I’m a bit suspicious that this could reek of a white savior trope, I’m looking forward to what could be gripping performances from Gabrielle Union, Che “Rhymefest” Smith, Michael K. Williams and Jeffrey Wright.
Noughts & Crosses (Peacock; Release Date: Sept. 4, 2020)
First Impressions: “What if Africa had colonized Europe?” is the opening tagline of the trailer, which caused quite the bit of side-eye on Black (American) Twitter. As a background, this show is based on a popular U.K. book series by Malorie Blackman (here’s some good context via a Twitter thread) which provides context on racism by flipping the switch. Timing is everything, though. One sweet day, we’ll be able to freely make attention-grabbing content that doesn’t have to be dominated by the white gaze. That said, I’m willing to give this show a chance on sheer curiosity alone (and in case the trailer did, in fact, misrepresent the premise of the show as has been claimed), as I’ve heard great things about the character of Persephone “Sephy” Hadley and Masali Baduza’s performance.
Anonymous Killers (Digital Theaters; Release Date: limited premiere on Oct. 6, 2020, with wide release on Oct. 20, 2020)
First Impressions: Director A.R. Hilton came up with this film’s concept while he was incarcerated and it is an exploration of the horrors of the social justice system. In Hilton’s first feature film, a group of captive killers face a sadistic mastermind who forces them to undergo a cruel social experiment where each person has to share the motives behind their crimes and then undergo judgement by their peers—ending in two outcomes: live or die. Yikes. The film will also explore the prejudices that arise in this kind of system.
Stars and Strife (Starz; Release Date: Sept. 21, 2020)
First Impressions: The aptly Stars and Strife is a documentary that examines the hatred in America. Though I doubt this will be anything new for Black Americans who’ve always been familiar with America’s hatred (it took one term of a Trump administration and a global pandemic for some other folks to catch up), what piqued my interest is that President of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York Hawk Newsome appears in this film. You may remember that name as the guy who completely eviscerated Martha McCallum’s trite and racist talking points on Fox News in a viral clip. If not, I highly suggest you check him out.
Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices (Netflix; Release Date: Sept. 1, 2020)
First Impressions: We already blogged about the announcement of this cool new show, but now we can highlight the trailer! Hosted by Marley Dias, the trailer showcases intros by Tiffany Haddish, Common, Marsai Martin, Lupita Nyong’o, Misty Copeland and more, all of whom have taken the time to read a book to the kiddies. Experiencing the joy of an adult go full animated energy when reading a story is a childhood memory I cherish, so having these personalities use their talents to do the same on this large platform in such an interactive way so that Black children across the world can see themselves onscreen and on the page is dope. You feel that? That’s my heart warming up.
The Forty-Year-Old Version (Netflix; Oct. 9, 2020)
First Impression: I caught this film during a Sundance preview and let me tell you this right now—Radha Blank is a goddamn star. The Forty-Year-Old Version is a breath of fresh air that follows a 40-year-old playwright who decides to become a rapper. This gem of a film tackles the idea that it’s never too late to pursue your dream in a unique and endearing way. While I didn’t get to write about it out of Sundance, I was thrilled to see it landed at Netflix, which I believe is the perfect platform for audiences to appreciate it. You’ll likely be seeing more in-depth coverage from me soon, so stay tuned.
OWN Spotlight: They Call Me Dad (OWN; Release Date: Sept. 15, 2020, at 9 p.m. ET/PT)
First Impressions: This special will follow the lives of Black dads such as DJ D-Nice, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Anthony Hamilton and Malcolm Jenkins as it fights against the “absent Black father” myth. Though these guys have heightened profiles due to their jobs and positions, this seems to be a sweet peek into what is likely their most important role in life. Meagan Good, Laila Ali and Sarah Jakes Roberts will also appear in the special.
Million Dollar Beach House (Netflix; Now Streaming)
First Impressions: Have y’all been watching guilty pleasure Selling Sunset like me? Well, this show seems to be in the same vein exceptt I actually spy a prominent Black person in the cast! Now, this can be good or bad because that also means that cast member (real estate broker Noel Roberts) could be subject to frustrating micro-aggressions working in this predominately rich and white world. I live for mindless entertainment these days so I guess I’ll see soon! I had to laugh at his retort in the trailer telling the white girl (Peggy Zabakolas) that if she wants a friend to get a damn dog, though.
David Byrne’s American Utopia (HBO; Release Date: Oct. 17, 2020, at 8 p.m. ET/PT)
First Impressions: As a Black woman, the phrase “American Utopia” sounds like an oxymoron, but I am curious about this upcoming project. It’s a filmed broadcast of David Bryne’s critically acclaimed Broadway show featuring an “ensemble of 11 musicians, singers, and dancers from around the globe, inviting audiences into a joyous dreamworld where human connection, self-evolution, and social justice are paramount.” Oh, and did I mention that this is a Spike Lee joint? Interesting.
Myth of a Colorblind France (Virtual Cinemas; Release Date: Sept. 25, 2020)
First Impressions: I love that this film unpacks the idea that escaping America as a Black person is finding complete freedom from tyranny. Not so much. Myth of a Colorblind France is a doc following Black artists such as Josephine Baker James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Beauford Delaney, Augusta Savage, Barbara Chase-Riboud and Lois Mailou Jones who all famously fled the U.S. and emigrated to Paris. While these and many other Black folks have found a sense of liberation and peace, it has to be noted that racism is a global issue. Is France truly colorblind? Or is it just racism wrapped in another package? What of the African citizens and other people of color living in France? I’m very much into this.
That’s all for this week, y’all! See you next Friday!