Series Review: La Casa de Papel

La casa de papel is a Spanish series that aired for one season in two parts last year. The series originally aired on Antena 3 and late last year it was added to Netflix’s catalog.

La casa de papel is about a group of criminals who are recruited by a man who calls himself The Professor. The Professor basically makes them stay at an estate and keeps them in seclusion so that he can educate and train them on how to properly execute the ultimate heist. He also tells them they cannot have personal relationships with one another nor can they know each other’s name. They must name themselves after cities and be cordial. Over the course of some months, the professor prepares them to take over the Royal Mint of Spain and occupy it with hostages so that they have enough time to print a couple billion euros.

The series consists of betrayal, affairs, death, babies and schoolkids, but mainly money. The group whole’s objective was to get freshly printed money that isn’t traceable and stick to the plan, but what the group didn’t take into account was all of the other factors that would hinder the heist.

I really enjoyed this series. It kept me on edge a lot because you never knew what the next according to The Professor’s plans, the police’s or the gang’s. He had a backup plan for pretty much anything that could possibly happen. He was meticulous and strategic. He pretty much thought ahead of the police for awhile and even manipulated the inspector into dating him unsuspectingly so that he had an inside scoop on everything that was going on. The gang’s determination to see this heist through was only fueled by their own agendas for their cut of the money because that was the only motivating force for many of them. The hostages who consisted of employees, the general public and schoolkids initially seemed to be afraid and just waited for their fate. However, the hostages used their wits and worked together to fight for their lives which was interesting because the typical heist movie or show would never have given hostages that much courage.

I highly recommend that you guys check it out. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever watched especially if you’re used to watching typical American TV and films.

My Black History Month TV Show & Movie List

Pariah (2011)

Alike, a 17-year-old girl living in Brooklyn, lives a double life because she has been hiding her sexuality from her overly religious mother and absentee father. She is an aspiring poet who is devoted to her academics, but is struggling to keep up with the façade she puts on for family as she is learning about herself and her sexuality identity.

The Incredible Jessica James (2017)

Jessica is a young black woman who is the embodiment of eccentric and colorful. She is a struggling playwright living in NYC who’s going through a recent breakup and trying to move forward with her life. While dating she finds an unlikely love interest who has her smitten and rethinking some of the things in her life.

Mudbound (2017)

 

Set in 1945 shortly after World War II in rural Mississippi, a time and place where Jim Crow laws were alive and well. The film focuses on the of lives of two families who coexist on the McAllan family’s farmland. Jamie and Ronsel come back home from the war to face the life they left behind.

Fruitvale Station (2013)

22-year-old Oscar Grant was in the process of getting back on his feet to support his family when his life took a turn for the worse. Fruitvale station recounts the days leading up to the night that Oscar Grant was involved in an altercation with police on New Year’s Eve that ultimately ended in tragedy.

She’s Gotta Have It (2017- Present)

Spike’s Lee movie turned TV series is about Nola Darling, a black artist who lives a liberating yet complicated life all while juggling multiple lovers. The series touches many of the current issues that are faced in today’s society especially in the black community.

Fences (2016)

Fences was originally written as a play by playwright, August Wilson in 1985. 30 years later, the  play was transformed into a film that depicted the lives of a black family in Pittsburgh who are battling race, mental illness, infidelity and dysfunction between their relationships.

Dayveon (2017)

Dayveon is struggling to cope with his brother’s death. He spends his days roaming the streets of his rural town in Arkansas. With no real guidance or parental figures in his life, he succumbs to his environment and joins the life of violence.

Insecure (2016- Present)

This series is partially based Issa Rae’s web series, Awkward Black Girl. Issa and Molly are best friends who face their flaws and insecurities head on in a series of uncomfortable situations and encounters. They constantly reflect on their morals and beliefs as they work to overcome hardships in their personal and work lives.

Detroit (2017)

This film goes back in time to 1967 to depict the events that occurred in the Algiers Motel in Detroit, Michigan. During that time, there had been numerous riots in Detroit that had vandalized the city so as a result the city was heavily patrolled especially at night. Two friends decide to stay at a motel for the night instead of attempting to make their way home through the heavily patrolled city. Their night goes awry when they’re hanging out with two white women at the motel and a gun goes off. The film depicts the hours the people in the motel spent being interrogated and beaten by the police for a confession.

13th (2016)

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay takes an in depth look into the history of racial inequality in the United Stated by focusing on the nation’s prisons that are disproportionately filled with African Americans.

12 Years a Slave (2013) 

 

Solomon Northup is a free black man from upstate New York who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the south. Northup endures the cruelty of slavery at the hands of his malicious owner, but also finds kindness as he struggles to maintain his dignity as a slave who was once a free man. His life changes forever during the 12th year when he encounters an abolitionist from Canada.

Selma (2014)

 

In 1964, the Civil Rights Act legally desegregated the South. However, despite the Civil Rights Act many black people still faced discrimination in certain areas, which made it difficult for black people to register to vote. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers embarked on an historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Dr. King and his followers’ effort ultimately led to President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Loving (2016)

Loving tells the story of interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving who went up against the Supreme Court in 1967. The two fell in love and married in 1958. They spent most of their lives in Central Point, which is a small town in Virginia. However, in the state of Virginia their interracial marriage was considered illegal and ultimately led to their incarceration at one point. The Loving family temporarily relocates in Washington, D.C., but ultimately tries to find their way back to their hometown. The couple’s strife led to the Supreme Court’s decision of invalidating the prohibition of interracial marriage in the state of Virginia.

Black-ish (2014-Present)

Dre Johnson seems to have it all as he has a great job, a beautiful wife, four kids and a big home in a nice neighborhood, but he starts to questions whether his success as a black man has created some distance between himself and black culture. Dre makes it his mission to create a sense of ethnic identity for his family members that will allow them to honor and acknowledge their identity as black people

Imitation of Life (1959) 

 

Lora Meredith is a single white mother who by chance encounters Annie Johnson, a black widow. Annie eventually becomes the caretaker for Lora’s daughter, Suzie while Lora pursues her dream of being on Broadway. Lora and Annie both face the difficulties of single motherhood. Lora struggles to maintain a relationship with Suzie as she strives for her Broadway career while Annie’s fair skinned daughter struggles with her black identity.

Moonlight (2016)

 

The film is told in three parts that shows Chiron’s life as a youth, an adolescent and as a young adult. Chiron spends most of his life growing up in Liberty City, Miami. Throughout his life, he faces many hardships such as, depression, struggling with his sexual identity all while trying to live with his mother as she battles her drug addiction.

The Butler (2013)

After leaving the South, Cecil Gaines is given the opportunity of a lifetime when he is hired as a butler at the White House. Throughout his thirty years as a butler, Cecil has been able to see history and the inner workings of the Oval Office unfold firsthand during historical events like the Civil Rights Movement. However, his commitment to the first family leads to complications with his family at home which ultimately puts a strain on the relationship he has with his wife and son.

Southside with You (2016)


In 1989, former President Barack Obama was a law student working as a summer associate at law firm in Chicago. Obama tries to win the heart of Michelle Robinson, a young lawyer and his supervisor at the law firm.

Queen Sugar (2016- Present)

Estranged Bordelon siblings, Nova, Charley and Ralph Angel must come together in Louisiana to make decisions in regards to their father’s sugar cane farm after his death. Nova is a journalist and an activist; Charley is the wife and manager of an NBA player while Ralph Angel who was recently released from jail is trying to get his life together for his son. The three siblings who live completely different lives and have experienced different things throughout their lives must put their differences aside for the betterment of their family’s legacy.

Dear White People (2014)

A campus culture war between black students and white students at a predominantly white school arises when the staff of a humor magazine stages an offensive Halloween party where many of the white students in attendance were in blackface. The film explores racial identity from the viewpoint of four black students attending a predominantly white school.

Celia (2015)

Celia tells the story of Afro-Latina music legend, Celia Cruz. The telenovela highlights the beginning of Cruz’s career where she developed her passion for singing in the 1950s along with her recognition as being the most pivotal singer of La Sonora Matancera. It shows how throughout the years, Celia Cruz was able to leave Cuba and conquer Latin music which led to her being one of the most recognized Salsa singers.

How to Get Away with Murder (2014)

Annalise Keating is a brilliant professor of defense law and teaches a course called How to Get Away with Murder. Keating is also a criminal defense attorney. She handpicks a group of students that she considers to be the best and the brightest. The group that handpicks assists her with her cases alongside her employees, Frank and Bonnie. Life changing situations arise that reveal dark secrets and will ultimately test the students’ wit and loyalty.

Chewing Gum (2015)

This British series follows the everyday shenanigans of Tracey Gordon. Tracey is a religious, Beyoncé-obsessed 24-year-old whose unusual and naïve outlook on life always gets her into trouble, but she seems to learn a little about the way the world works as time goes on.

Atlanta (2016)

Up and coming rapper, Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles is trying to find middle ground with street life and real life while developing his rap career. His cousin, Earn has returned to Atlanta and is now his manager. Earn devotes most of his time to getting his cousin’s rap career to the next level. Alfred spends most his time with his right hand man, Darius. When Earn isn’t busy managing his cousin he’s preoccupied with his daughter and his complicated with relationship with her mother, Vanessa who is also his best friend.

Time: The Kalief Browder Story (2017)

 

At just 16 years old, Kalief Browder spent three years in Rikers Island awaiting trial. Browder spent two of those three years in solitary confinement. He was arrested for allegedly stealing a backpack. The case was never prosecuted and the charges were ultimately dropped. In 2015, Kalief Browder committed suicide two years after his release from jail. The six-part series delves into Browder’s life through first person accounts, archival footage and recreations of key points in his life. The series also includes a wide range of people who are connected to his story.

I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

In this documentary, Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished back in 1987. In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project that would go unfinished. Baldwin started a book called “Remember This House.” The book was set to be revolutionary and historical. In it he would recall his personal accounts of the lives and ultimately the assassinations of three of his close friends who were Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Daughters of the Dust (1991)

 

Set in 1902, a family of former West African slaves living in the Gullah community of the coastal South Carolina suffers a generational split. The film is narrated by the unborn daughter of Eli and Eula who tells the stories of her ancestors who strive to maintain their family’s legacy and culture in the Gullah community while some want to move onto the mainland for a modern way of life.

 

Black Mirror Series 4 Review

Episode 1: USS Callister

Robert is a CTO of a tech-entertainment company and he is also an outcast at his job, but at night he takes on a different persona. Robert has created a virtual reality based on his favorite tv show where he is the commander of a ship that is operated by his peers from work.

This particular episode was pretty weird to me and kind of confusing because the main character, Robert was able to utilize the DNA of his coworkers so that they can be placed into his virtual reality game. The odd part to me was that despite the fact that it was a virtual reality game, they were conscious of the fact that they were in his weird world and could rebel which seemed to be pretty stupid on his end.

Episode 2: Arkangel

This particular episode is basically about an overbearing mom who becomes obsessive over an app that is connected to a microchip she had implanted into her daughter. The app acts as a peephole into her daughter’s life from her childhood to teenage years, but eventually proves to be detrimental as her daughter gets older.

The ending of this episode was pretty dramatic, but it just gave a futuristic perspective on what an overbearing parent would be like.

Episode 3: Crocodile

Mia and her ex-boyfriend work together to cover up an accidental murder. The couple eventually part ways and years go by. Mia tries to contain the dark secrets, but that proves to be difficult when Shazia needs to harvest Mia’s memories for an insurance claim for a car accident she witnessed from her hotel room.

This episode was actually decent. Mia’s character really developed from a remorseful, young woman to a cut throat businesswoman who would literally kill anything that gets in her way.

Episode 4: Hang the DJ

Frank and Amy seemingly meet by chance through a dating app. The tinder-like app that is way more manipulative picks where they meet, what they eat and how long they get to be together. The pair clicked, but was only given a short amount of time to be together. When they were paired again they began to question the app’s algorithm.

This episode was somewhat interesting, but it didn’t WOW me.

Episode 5: Metalhead

This episode was about a group of people who are being hunted by these metal dog things.

This was the worst episode. I was just like ???

Episode 6: Black Museum

A young girl who stops in the middle of nowhere to charge up her car comes across a museum. The museum shows criminal artifacts and failed inventions/projects. The proprietor of the museum tells the girl stories of the exhibits and artifacts in there, but he doesn’t know that she has a story of her own for one of his exhibits.

This episode was bizarre and lackluster to me.

This season was highly anticipated, but also very disappointing for many who expressed their thoughts via social media. This particular series wasn’t as mind bending as the previous ones. It was interesting, but seemed to be lacking something. Most of the show’s content is about technology and how it can be detrimental to our lives. In the beginning, the episodes always left me mystified in the end wishing to see more or what the final result could have been. It’s unfortunate that many people weren’t pleased with this series because I feel like a lot of newcomers gave the show a shot and it kind of bombed. Some of the episodes may have some deeper meanings and hidden messages that might make it more interesting after the fact. Who knows what’s next for the Black Mirror series…

Movie Review: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Over the holiday weekend, I went to go see the new Jumanji film. I was a little apprehensive because this film took a different approach to the original fantasy adventure film that was based on a board game.

The original film made its debut in 1995 and was based on the 1981 children’s book of the same name. The film featured stars like the late Robin Williams, David Alan Grier, Kirsten Dunst and more.

Fast forward to 2017, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is set in current day. The nerds and popular kids are put together due to detention, but find themselves working together to free themselves from the video game version of Jumanji.

The film was better than I thought it was going to be. Kevin Hart and Jack Black’s humor complimented the quirkiness of their counterparts. The Rock did pretty good with playing the avatar of a nerdy teen.

One thing that was interesting to me is that the backstory for Jumanji was completely different from the original film. There was no mention of the other characters or the origin. The writers chose to give it a different starting point with a different character who was stuck in the game for 20 years.

It’s definitely worth seeing especially with your family.

TV Series Review: Dark

Dark (2017) is a German Science fiction series that premiered on Netflix last month.

The show is seemingly similar to Stranger Things, but there is no comparison when it comes to the complexities and depth that Dark possesses.

The intricate series follows the lives of the people who grew up together in Winden and how the town is affected after children go between within three time periods. The series bounces between the years 2019, 1986, and 1953. Paying attention is very important when watching this show because there are a lot of key moments that occur, which will link to what transpires in the future/current time. However, there are some questions that are left unanswered.. for now. Dark also gives you a physics lesson on spacetime, black holes, wormholes and other very interesting, nerdy things.

The people in Winden have mostly grown up together, but have no idea have much their lives intertwine beyond being neighbors or classmates. The town possesses a lot of secrets that are kept at a cost. Young Jonas who has recently suffered a loss has now returned to Winden after being away for awhile. What he doesn’t know is now that he has returned he will be forced to deal with the reality and complexities that is now his life.

This show really grabbed my attention from the very start. I haven’t watched any German films or TV series before so I was already interested in seeing how this series would be depicted. I really liked how Dark bounced between time periods it was like you were time traveling with the characters to see key moments from the past and how they shape the future. It was also interesting to see how characters from the future were changing the past and even getting stuck in that particular year. I definitely got confused at times and found myself replaying certain scenes.

Here’s a link to a guide created so that you can follow the characters throughout the time periods as the scenes go back and forth from the younger and older version of themselves. All in all the series was pretty good and I’m excited to see what season 2 of Dark will be

Review: She’s Gotta Have It

 

She’s Gotta Have It is a comedy-drama TV series created by Spike Lee, which is based on his 1986 film of the same name.

Director Spike Lee burst onto the American film scene in 1986 with She’s Gotta Have It. The film launched Lee’s career and was notable for it’s revolutionary portrayal of female sexuality. After juggling three men, and experimenting with monogamy, the film’s central character Nola Darling, a young black woman juggling three men and giving monogamy a try soon learns that she doesn’t need a man to make herself happy.

The She’s Gotta Have It series portrays the female sexuality as more empowered than before. Nola Darling (played by DeWanda Wise) identifies as a sex positive, polyamorous, pansexual woman who is not a freak, not a sex addict, and not anyone’s property. Outside of her love life, Nola Darling is an artist who is trying to find her voice through her art.

The first season focuses on Darling and the three men she is dating who are updated characters based on the original film. There is Mars Blackmon (Anthony Ramos) who is a goofy, care-free stoner type who works at a bike shop. Then, there is Greer Childs (Cleo Anthony), the vain, muscular male model/photographer who is brings a lot of spontaneity in the bedroom; and there’s Jamie Overstreet (Lyriq Bent), the successful businessman who has a thing for poetry. There is another lover in Nola’s life, but it’s not who you’d expect.

The series comprises of 10 episodes that follow the lives of Darla, her friends and her lovers.

Nola’s candor is the most endearing part of who she is. She’s so complex and yet so simple. At times she’s so hedonistic and selfish she does not realize her antics aren’t necessarily appreciated just because she finds no harm in them. Ms. Darling lives her life with no regard she even dates one of her friends exes and she invited all of her men over for dinner. She’s very unorthodox.

It’s interesting how Nola Darling in the film differs from Nola in the series. In the film, Nola is still no strings attached, but very emotionally invested in her lovers which was obvious when she told Jamie Overstreet that she loved him and she even expressed that she would like to have children. However, in the series Nola is more detached and overtly shows her opposition towards commitment. Throughout the series she shudders at the thought of dating, commitment and having a family.

I like that it showed the viewpoint and life of a black woman in America. It addressed all types of issues such as, assault against women, catcalling, body shaming, body image and more. The biggest theme was black feminism and female empowerment. Nola was unapologetic and confident in the way that she lived her life which was empowering. She does not live her life for anyone, but herself and she isn’t anyone’s property.

I also really liked the film and music references that were made throughout the series. Nola was always quoting movies and such especially when she would change the subject while she was talking to one of the men she was dating.

It started off kinda corny and over the top with the theatrics. At time it seemed as if Nola’s Afro Centricity was over the top and forced, but Overall the series was great and relevant to today’s society. She’s Gotta Have It embraced hip hop culture, art, poetry, sexuality, societal issues and more all in one.

Movie Review: Mudbound 

Mudbound scene

Last week, Mudbound premiered in select theaters and streamed on Netflix.

Mudbound is a period drama film directed by Dee Rees and is based on the 2008 novel of the same name. The film features stars like Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Carey Mulligan and Garrett Hedlund.

Mudbound is set in 1945 shortly after World War II in rural Mississippi, a time and place where Jim Crow laws were alive and well. The film focuses on the of lives of two families who coexist on the McAllan family’s farmland.

The Jackson’s are a family of sharecroppers who unwillingly welcome the incoming McAllan family members that moved to Mississippi to start a new life. The Jacksons are a family of sharecroppers who struggle to maintain the land they have along with other racial and societal barriers they must deal with. Florence (Mary J. Blige) and Hap (Rob Morgan) Jackson do the best with what little they have so they can raise their children and protect them from the evils of the world. Their eldest son, Ronsel (Jason Mitchell) sets off to Europe to fight in WWI. Ronsel sees a side of the world that is unlike anything at home. The way of life and the way black people are received in Europe baffled him which he expressed in his letters that he wrote to his family back in Mississippi.

Then, there is the McAllan family who have come from their Memphis home with the intent to turn the McAllan land into a farm again. Henry (Jason Clarke) drives down with his openly racist father, Pappy (Jonathan Banks), wife, Laura (Carey Mulligan), and their daughters. The land the McAllan’s own is also the same land that the Jackson family sharecrop a portion of.

Two soldiers return to the Mississippi town after fighting in the war. Jamie McAllan returns home to his family as hero who is battling PTSD. Ronsel comes back home a hero like Jamie McAllan, but with less recognition and more racism. An unlikely friendship forms between the soldiers who come from two completely different backgrounds, but share the same mental struggles that the war inflicted upon them. Their friendship isn’t well received by the racists in the town who force Jamie to make a life changing decision in effort to severe their friendship.

Mudbound was heart wrenching and captivating. It touched on the realities of the black war heroes who explored the world and saw what it had to offer besides blatant racism. Moreover, I think that the film embodied the struggles that many black people faced while living in the south. There was scene where Ronsel had just come back home with all of his honorary badges on and was shopping in a local store for his family. As he went to head out the front door, he encountered Pappy McAllan who demanded that he leave out the backdoor and called him a nigger. The sacrifices black people had to make in order to save their lives and stroke the egos of the racist whites is unmeasurable. The McAllans were generally “tolerable” of black people, but they were unnecessarily inconsiderate when it came to the requests that they made of them. Henry requested that Florence come help his sick children in the wee hours of the night and then his wife, Laura asked that she permanently stay to help with the children with no regard to her own family and household. The actors did a great job especially Mary J. Blige she blew me away. I really enjoyed this movie and can’t wait to see what else Dee Rees has in store for the film industry.