The 2019 Ford Media Ride & Drive during 25th Anniversary of the Essence Festival was in full force this year yet again! Running with this year’s theme “Paint the Future Proud”, the well-known motor company spotlighted visual artists Shantell Martin, Sydney G. James and Melissa Mitchell. Art installations were displayed all weekend to showcase their work, while test drives
were being offered of Ford’s current vehicle lineup; paired with panel discussions and giveaways also featured, plus so much more.
During the Ford Media Ride & Drive, journalists, influencers and more got a chance to attend a special brunch (prepared by Chef Gary Netter, Culinary Ambassador of New Orleans) at The New Orleans African American Museum of Art, History and Culture powered by Ford. Attendees received a special tour of the museum which was founded in 1996 under the guidance and extensive support of the City of New Orleans Department of Housing and Neighborhood Development.
The tour led by Gia A. Hamilton, Executive Director & Chief Curator of NOAAM, gave an extensive background story and history of the land which is located in the Tremé section of New Orleans, a neighborhood that was home to the nation’s largest, most prosperous and politically progressive community of Black people by the mid-1850s.
More about NOAAM:
In the 18th century, the land was occupied by the Morand Plantation and brickyard, which was later acquired by hat maker and real estate developer Claude Tremé. In 1810, Tremé sold the land to the city of New Orleans, and it became home to many free persons of color. Congo Square, was a gathering place for free persons and slaves to gather, play music, and sell goods.
Tremé is unique in its architecture, it’s streets are a gumbo of double shotgun houses, Creole cottages and townhouses. An excellent example of Creole architecture is the Meilleur-Goldthwaire House, a villa built in 1828 which makes up part of the NOAAM campus. The New Orleans African American Museum is situated near the St. Augustine Church, one of the oldest African-American Catholic parishes in the nation, and two other museums that center black culture and contribution: the Backstreet Cultural Museum and Tremé’s Petit Jazz Museum.
On site, local artists also display their work showcasing the importance of the NOLA’s heritage and what it means to them, with an addition of political and racism issues that is going on to this very day.
Visiting NOAAM was the perfect segue way into learning about the progression within their community and how someone like the media, and more could be involved. The work starts in your own communities first, and just simply should not be ignored. Invest. Create. Lead By Example. Stand for what your ancestors stood for. Fight for what they fought for.
Thanks to Ford for staying on top of what’s important to the culture! New Orleans is so rich in history and culture, so this was a very much-needed visit and collaboration during this year’s 2019 Essence Festival.
If you’re ever in NOLA, please be sure to stop by!
We recently took our talents to Nashville Tennessee for the world premiere of, Beautifully Broken, a film that explores a refugee’s escape, a prisoner’s promise, and a daughter’s painful secret that converge in this inspiring true story of hope. As three fathers fight to save their families, their lives become intertwined in an unlikely journey across the globe, where they learn the healing power of forgiveness and reconciliation.
To say this film is amazing is an understatement. Not only was it memorable, but it lives up to it’s name. But what does Beautifully Broken mean? We caught up with the films executive producer, stars and the beautiful CeCe Winans (who is on the soundtrack) to get their take on the beautiful meaning of the title of this film.
What does the title, Beautifully Broken, mean to you?
“We are all broken, But God still has a beautiful plan for us. If you keep the faith, and keep moving forward, he can turn it around. It’s like stained glass, it’s all shattered, but put together it’s the most beautiful art there is.”
-Executive Producer, Randy Hartley
‘Wow, well they mean a lot. But mainly, beautifully broken means if you have pain, you are not alone. I think it’s our honesty and authenticity with each other that builds a brighter community, and beautifully broken is all about that.’
-Actress, Emily C. Hahn
“Living in such a social media age, where everyone is posting their high peak moments, I feel like we need to uncover our flaws and have more authentic relationships, so I love the title from the beginning because of that is what it means to me.’
-Scott Williams Winters
“Well, God is close to the brokenhearted, and so many times the enemy will make you feel like everything is over and broken because you’re hurting. But God has proven time and time again that he will take your brokenness and turn it into something pretty. So I think it’s a powerful movie, a powerful message and a powerful song.
The Beautifully Broken cast includes Scott William Winters (Lethal Weapontelevision series, Good Will Hunting), Benjamin Onyango (God’s Not Dead, Inception), Emily C. Hahn (Toy Story 3, Fresh Off The Boat television series), Jessica Obilom (Trafficked), Caitlin Nicol-Thomas (Nashville television series), Alan Powell (Quantico television series), Eugene Khumbanyiwa(District 9), Tammi Arender (Pitch Perfect 2), and television personality Thomasina “Goo Goo” Atkins (Mary Mary series). Christian music legends Toby McKeehan and Michael W. Smith also make appearances in the film.
Pacific Rim: Uprising is nothing like it’s predecessor Pacific Rim and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Guillermo Del Torro downgraded himself to a producer role to focus on The Shape of Water, giving the directing duty to Steven S. DeKnight (Spartacus and Netflix’s Daredevil). Charlie Hunnam’s character Raleigh Becket is missing without a trace and there is no mention as to his whereabouts.Ron Perlman’s character Hannibal Chau, the Kaiju organ hoarder is also noticeably absent *shrug*. Idris Elba is also no longer in the franchise physically and understandably so he gave his life “canceling the apocalypse” in the first film.
So does anything carry over from the first film carry over into this sequel? Well yeah, sort of?
Rinko Kuri’s character Mako returns but her role has been reduced but it’s still very important to the story. Let’s just say she’s following in her adopted father’s footsteps.
Our two favorite brilliant but bumbling scientists return to the film. The kaiju groupie Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and the uptight Gottlieb ( Burn Gorman) are back and add a very unique twist to the film’s story.
The drift returns and is the mental link between two pilots, it’s also known as the Neural Handshake that helps the two pilots control their Jeagers fluidly returns in the film with some upgraded features.
The kaiju are back as well but in very limited numbers but there is a perfectly good reason for that.
Now before you gasp at the mere mention of that alone and wonder how in the hell is this film any good? I will explain eventually.
In the film, it has been 10-years since the events of the first film. The underwater turnstile for the giant monsters known as the breach is still permanently sealed and most of the world has recovered from the damage they cause when they make landfall. Most of the Jaegers in the world have been decommissioned and left to rot sealed off Jaeger scrapyards. The new sci-fi king, John Boyega (The Force Awakens/The Last Jedi) plays Jake Pentecost son of the legendary deceased Jaeger pilot Stacker Pentecost. Instead of fulfilling his once-promising career as a Kaiju destroying Jaeger pilot he opts for a life in the world of the criminal underground. He makes his living off stealing Jaeger parts and selling them on the black market.
During one of his scavenger hunts, he encounters a 15-year-old hacker and Jaeger scrapper named Amara (Cailee Spaeny). When the two go for a joyride in an unauthorized Jaeger she built from all the parts she stole they get arrested. Jake’s adopted sister gives him an Amara a second chance by re-enlisting them in the Pan Pacific Defense Corps’ Jaeger program much to the dismay of the of the by the books no-nonsense ranger Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood).
Jake reluctantly re-enlist but he takes the job to help Nate train the newest and very young Jaeger pilot recruits including his cellmate at one point Amara. He thinks this is gonna be a quick and easy job and he can be back to life as a scavenger living by his own rules. His plans are quickly changed when a rogue Jaeger makes an appearance by throwing a monkey wrench into plans and forcing him to take being a Jaeger pilot again seriously. Another thorn in the side of the Jaeger program is the introduction of manless drones being created by Liwen Shao (Jing Tian) head of a powerful multinational company.
Now there are plenty of reviews panning this film because Toro is not behind this one but that is honestly also a good thing. Unlike Toro’s film, DeKnight’s sequel is much more fun. When Jake isn’t in a Jaeger he is very witty outside of it and his on-screen chemistry great. Boyega proves he can carry a film as the lead in the film and definitely knows how to squeeze in a joke or two. The other characters in the film do what they are supposed to do but it’s Amara who stands out from the rest of the newcomers easily.
But make no mistake the stars of this film are the giant robots and monsters and they shine more than they ever did in the first film. They are even more tricked out than before and doing even more ridiculous things on screen that Jaeger fans dreamed off. From strapping Kaiju blood filled rockets on their back to taking on rogue Jeagers in the middle of the Antarctic, it’s mech vs monster overload and it’s glorious.
This film isn’t intended to blow you away with dialogue or with a mind-blowing story, it’s intended to impress you with its action and it accomplishes that mission very easily. If this movie does well at the box office and all signs point to it doing so,don’t be shocked if there are more movies coming down the pipeline. John Boyega is a star and he deserves his own franchise to shine in, Pacific Rim: Uprising might be the catalyst for future films in this franchise with him leading the charge.
Furious 7 left fans of the storied franchise saying there is no way they can top the action/insanity that they witnessed in the James Wan directed film. Director F.Gary Gray and producer/star Vin Diesel are up for the challenge with the latest installment The Fate of the Furious.
F8 immediately sets the tone with Dom (Vin Diesel) and his new wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) celebrating their honeymoon in Havana, Cuba. You get the vibe of a Fast & Furious film immediately as bikini clad women grace the screen and loud music blares through the theater speakers. The action kicks in instantly when Dom’s cousin gets caught up with a local gangster who wants to repossess his rusty looking hot rod. Cousin Dom of course isn’t here for the strong picking on the weak and challenges his cousin’s bully to a street race.
We are then treated to a heart racing, unbelievable race scene where Dom puts on full display his amazing driving skills while facing some ridiculous odds that will surely get a rise out Fast and Furious fans. To make the moment even more cheesy, we even get some classic “Domisms” after the race is over and he earns the gangsters respect. As rapidly as things pick up in the film they also go left pretty fast. Dom’s beautiful honeymoon gets weird when he is confronted by the beautiful yet very sinister hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron).
She makes the fearless leader an offer he can’t refuse after she shows him some footage on a cellphone that leaves Dom looking like he just got punched in the gut. Dom is now left with a tough decision he has to make and at the same time is called back into action by his new friend Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson). La Familia reunites for a new mission when they have to retrieve an EMP device, which is light work for them. Things seem to be going according to plan until Dom pulls a fast one on his family and in my best *Dwayne Johnson voice* goes rogue.
La Familia now faces their biggest threat ever in their former leader teaming up with Cipher. Down two members with Brian (Paul Walker) now being strictly a family man and Dom now terrorizing them. With the help of Mr.Nobody (Kurt Russell) the gang gets a new boost from teammates, F7’s villain Ian Shaw (Jason Statham) and rookie to the Fast and Furious universe Eric Reisner (Scott Eastwood) whom the team affectionately calls “Little Nobody”. The team must now race against time to prevent a worldwide catastrophe and stop/save their once fearless leader Dom.All the while they barely leave the driver seats of the cars. AMAZING!
Fate of the Furious is still the same old dog we have come to love with some new tricks. Fans of the franchise will love this film as the explosions and car stunts have been taken to another level. While some scenes are just ridiculous e.g. chasing down a Russian ambassador on the streets of NYC carefree or Hobbs pushing a torpedo with his bare hands you quickly understand that this comes with the territory.
You will also notice the scarcity of scenes involving both The Rock and Vin Diesel which also adds fuel to the whole feud rumor. BUT to make up for it, The Rock and Statham’s dynamic easily makes your forget all about that and have you asking for more of Hobbs and Shaw. Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) take their on-screen camaraderie to another level and bring in the comedic factor to the story. Tyrese does a lot more yelling this time around and even gets called out for in the film. Charlize Theron brings in some new flavor to the Fast & Furious universe as the new baddie on the block but is not as memorable as previous films antagonist sadly. Letty does her part as the wife who hasn’t given up hope on her husband and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) fits right in with the gang.
If you are looking for just pure entertainment and could care less about things making much sense then Fate of the Furious is for you. As far as action is concerned F8 surpasses it’s predecessor easily with the use of remote-controlled vehicles, amazing sets and locations, prison brawls, strategically placed wrecking balls, mega explosions and of course a nuclear submarine.
Dom’s reasoning for going rogue seems a bit forced but it still works, especially thanks to one scene with Statham’s character Ian Shaw (I won’t spoilt that for you). Fate of the Furious is still a fun ride and should go down as one of the franchise’s best films. Will this film bring in a billion like F7 though? Probably and I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. Still, Fate of the Furious deserves all the money that is coming its way and should definitely be on list of things to do this upcoming weekend.
3.5 out of 5
Fate of the Furious races into theaters April 14th!
atman V Superman was supposed to be the gem of the DC extended movie universe but it sadly didn’t live up to the hype. Fans and critics slammed the movie calling it a cinematic mess as DC is trying to get on pace or come relatively close to Marvel. DC fans and myself shifted all of our hope on Suicide Squad praying that this film about a rag-tag team of DC’s most vile villains will save the day. The million dollar question is, did it? Well step into this review shall we?
*Mild Spoilers Ahead*
Now here’s the basic run down of the film, Suicide Squad follows Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) a hardcore, ruthless and tough as nails patriot. With the emergence of Superman and other meta-humans she decides she wants to put together a team of “special” individuals who could give them a chance and take on missions that regular soldiers just can’t do. Plus if they failed they could just blame it on these special individuals cause they are the bad guys duuuh. Ladies and gentlemen I introduce to you the Suicide Squad!
The team is composed of The Joker’s (Jared Leto) psychotic girlfriend Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), half-man, half-crocodile Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), the boomerang throwing burglar Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), marksman/assassin Deadshot (Will Smith), the ancient witch Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) and the deadly assassin Slipknot (Adam Beach). Now you didn’t think Waller would just let this group of villains run around unsupervised did you? That’s where Wallers right hand man Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and Katana (Karen Fukuhara) come into play.
They are there to make sure the villains don’t go rogue and complete the mission, it also helps that each of them have bombs implanted them that can be detonated at the first sign of any trouble or if Flag somehow is killed during the mission. Now what’s their mission, well one of the gang goes rogue and it just happens to be the one with the magical powers. They must somehow find a way to unite and work together as a team to stop the world from ending. A job once tailor-made for Superman but we know what happened to him.
I went into Suicide Squad with extremely high hopes that this will be the film that would put DCEU on the right track. Unfortunately that was not completely the case in the end. David Ayer successfully managed to make a better movie than Snyder’s lackluster Batman V Superman film. To be honest that’s really not saying all that much though at all. Let’s point out the positives first shall we? I absolutely loved Viola Davis as Waller, she absolutely nails the character and will have you saying wow at some of her brutal actions in the film.
Will Smith was very good as Deadshot and at times the film felt like it was his own standalone film, and his action scenes were absolutely on point. Margot Robbie shines as the psychotic Harley Quinn and absolutely nails Harley’s use of “puddin” and “Mr.J”. At times it’s absolutely ridiculous to see her hold her own against super natural forces with a baseball bat but she makes it work. Killer Croc, Katana and El Diablo manage to hold their own in the film each showcasing their skills and what they bring to the team. It takes sometime for DIablo to engage but when he does he owns his scenes.
The pacing in this film was extremely better than the jumbled mess that was Batman V Superman. It immediately does a great job of gauging your interest in the film with the introductions to each of the characters. The brief cameos from Batman (Ben Affleck) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) in the beginning of the film were perfect and worked extremely well. Not to mention the score for this soundtrack is amazing and I guarantee will have you nodding your head a few times while watching the movie.
Now here’s where the film starts to lose me, the characters on-screen chemistry just doesn’t click at all. At times it seems like the squad is painfully trying to show they can co-exist but in the end they just fall flat. There is one particular moment where the squad worked perfectly. It’s a well written bar scene where they all just take break from saving the world to grab a drink and Harley hops behind the bar and starts serving drinks as they discuss among each other if they want to continue the mission or not. But that’s it unfortunately for the cohesiveness.
Another problem with the film is there is just not enough Joker.
The movie will leave you feeling as if you were cheated out of Leto’s Joker whom he went to great lengths to get in character for.We get small doses of him in the film but it’s just not enough and will leave you wondering if in fact Leto can even hold a match to Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight.
The Joker is at his best when he is paired with Harley on-screen in the film as they put on display the chemistry these two can bring in future films.
Cara’s Enchantress is supposed to be one of the most powerful characters in the movie but ends up being one of the most lackluster characters.
lNot even the love story between June Moone/Enchantress and Flag can save her character in the film.
Captain Boomerang and Slipknot are easily forgettable almost immediately in the movie and don’t truly show their potential.
While the film’s cast was made up mostly villains it wasn’t as dark as Batman V Superman which brings us to the humor aspect of the film. The one liners in the film were just flat and had more of punch in the film’s many trailers. The biggest disappointment this film shares with Batman V Superman is its main villain and climax. The final battle will have you asking more questions if anything trying to figure out exactly what you just witnessed.
Now don’t get me wrong Suicide Squad is enjoyable but that’s as far as my admiration goes for the film as whole. A film this big is supposed to great but it’s just barely good and continues DC’s current wave of mediocrity with their films. Maybe I’m asking for too much, but in the end I just really wanted this film to be absolutely amazing. We deserve it! Hopefully 2017’s Wonder Woman can help alleviate the disappointment from this film. We got a long time till that day comes though.
att Damon is back as the reluctant, amnesiac super assassin Jason Bourne in the self titled fifth film in the popular movie franchise based of the Robert Ludlum novels. Damon is reunited with Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips, United 93) for third time in the franchise and the two once again show why they just work well together.
In Jason Bourne we are immediately reunited with Bourne, he’s aged and is just basically taking things day by day. Bourne is living off the grid, making money by participating in fight rings in Greece. Unfortunately his life of solitude is about to end when his former CIA contact Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) returns with some new information about his father and another government project like the ones he taken down in the previous films.
Bourne is immediately thrown back into the world he wanted nothing to do with anymore when it is revealed he is still alive. Hollywood veteran Tommy Lee Jones is this installment’s main villain Robert Dewey director of the CIA who wants Bourne dead before he takes down and exposes his new asssassin program. In the film Dewey is assisted by his main agent Craig Jeffers (Ato Essandoh), eager agent who seems to have her own agenda in play.
Like every other Bourne film there is of courser and “asset” tasked with the very difficult job of taking out Jason Bourne. Vincent Cassel is that guy, revenge is his fuel after his team was exposed and he was taken captive after Bourne helped bring to light the secret program he was in. Cassel looks to be Bourne’s biggest threat yet as he stops at nothing to see that he is dead and helps tie up all loose ends for Dewey. Bourne is now back in the game and searches for answers as new questions arise about the death of his father and why the government really targeted him in the first place and he is dead set on getting them.
It’s absolutely refreshing to see Matt Damon reprise the role of Jason Bourne. Not to take anything away from the underrated Matt Damonless last film The Bourne Legacy. Paul Greengrass manages to keep Jason Bourne fresh by sticking in the worlds current infatuation with social media and current obsession with worrying about privacy. Newcomers to the franchise, Tommy Lee Jones is stellar as Damon’s villain, Vincent Cassel is impressive as Damon’s nemesis, Ato Assandoh is shines as Jones right hand man and Alicia Vikander is good but could have been used more in the film. The action you have come to expect from a Bourne film is there and is taken up a notch especially with the chase scenes. Matt Damon hasn’t missed a step either and reminds people event though he’s older he still packs a mean punch and his assassin skills are still sharp. Jason Bourne is definitely one of the better films in the franchise and looks to inject life back into probably fostering more films to follow.
ryan Cranston immerses himself in the world of drugs and money again in his latest film The Infiltrator. The film directed by Brad Furman and written by his mother Ellen Brown Furman is based on true events from the book of the same name written by U.S. Customs Agent Robert Mazur.
The movie is a fictionalized portrayal of “Operation C-Chase” a massive undercover operation that is considered to this day one of the most successful drug-busting operations in U.S. history.
Cranston masterfully takes on the role of Mazur, a family man when he is home with his devoted wife Evelyn Mazur (Juliet Aubrey) and two kids (Lara Decaro and Niall Hayes) the definition of the American family.
When it comes to work though, Bob goes all in and to nail the big fish he becomes Bob Musella money laundering extraordinaire. To help him, Robert is reluctantly paired up with fast talking Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo) who has all the right connections.
Robert goes deep, deep, deep undercover and becomes too involved in the case as the lines begin to blur between Bob and Rob. In order to sell Bob, Robert enlists the help of Dominic (Joe Gilgun) a psychopath he springs from prison to play his the role of his muscle.
During a night on the town celebrating with Escobar’s men, Bob makes the mistake of saying he’s engaged so he wouldn’t cheat on his wife. To help keep suspicions down, Robert’s supervisor Bonni Tischier (Amy Ryan) pairs Bob up with a rookie undercover agent Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger) to take on the role of becoming his beautiful fiancée. Katy quickly adapts to her role and impresses Robert who is very particular about his assignments. She is so good in fact that Robert’s real wife thinks she is sleeping with her husband.
With all the pieces in place, it all leads up to the epic take down scene that happens to be Bob and Kathy’s fake wedding.
Cranston shows why he is one of Hollywood’s got to guys as he puts his versatile acting skills on full display. Cranston completely owns the character and is totally believable in the role as Mazur the family man and Musello the money launderer. A good example of that would be the restaurant scene where Robert has to transform into Bob instantly in front of his wife when one of Escobar’s boys roll up on him during dinner.
Leguizamo is perfect as his sidekick Abreu as the role was tailor-made for him. Both he and Cranston supply the twisted humor in the film and work well with each other.
Benjamin Bratt is absolutely stellar as Robert Alcaino, Bratt even manages to make you empathize for the character even though he’s not a good guy.
The Infiltrator is a great mix of perfectly timed humor, suspense, drama and action and will have you so engaged you won’t even really pay attention to the length of the film. It’s definitely one the best films Summer 2016 and will definitely find its way on the list of many fans these type of films.