Lisa Bolekaja

‘Into the Badlands’: Will Blasian Love Last?

sunny hugging veil

‘Into the Badlands’, based on the classic Chinese tale ‘Journey to the West’, is set in a futuristic dystopian world where past wars have created a new feudal society. It’s gratifying to finally get an onscreen Blasian couple where they kiss, have sex, and get to have a real relationship.

Moonfaze Feminist Film Festival: Her Story Illuminated

The Pink Sorrys

Writer/Director/Actress and Moonfaze Film Festival Founder Premstar Santana has taken on the challenge of not waiting for Hollywood to feature feminist cinema. She is creating the platform that elevates feminist viewpoints from marginalized voices that rarely get the opportunity to shine.

Shieldmaidens: The Power and Pleasure of Women’s Violence on ‘Vikings’

Vikings Poster

In ‘Reel Knockouts: Violent Women in the Movies,’ Neal King and Martha McCaughey assert that “cultural standards still equate womanhood with kindness and nonviolence, manhood with strength and aggression.” Under the Victorian cult of true womanhood, womanly virtue was supposed to encompass piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity. Thank goodness writer/producer Michael Hirst ignored those virtues by creating two dynamic women warriors with his historical drama ‘Vikings.’

‘The Tribe’: Navigating the Beauty and Horror of Silent Children

the-tribe-exclusive-quad-poster

The film moves through arcs of pity, empathy, and then downright horror. Violence is abrupt and can come from anyone. I was blessed to watch the film with an audience that was one third deaf, and the experience of witnessing visceral scenes with the sounds of hands pounding, slapping, moving around me with frantic finger blurs of American Sign Language made the viewing electric.

‘Living Single’ and ‘Girlfriends’: The Roots of Sex Positivity for Black Women on TV

livingsingle poster

There were never any shows that centered happy, single, child-free Black women that prioritized good sex as part of successful living. That is until two television shows came on the scene, ‘Living Single’ (1993-1998, created by Yvette Lee Bowser) and ‘Girlfriends’ (2000-2007, created by Mara Brock Akil).

‘Straight Outta Compton’: N.W.A. as Messenger, Myth, and Erasure

Straight Outta Compton poster featuring actors and original members of N.W.A.

And I don’t buy the excuse that Gray gives by calling these women story criticisms “side stories.” He showed Snoop Dogg in the film twice, and even had Tupac Shakur ( A.k.a. 2Pac) in a scene. Wouldn’t they be considered side stories too? Also, the movie is already long, so adding three minutes just to give us a glimpse of Yo-Yo with Cube, or a kick ass scene with The Lady of Rage in the sound booth rapping “Afro Puffs” with Snoop couldn’t hurt the narrative flow or length. It would take so little to show the world that women were there and are a part of N.W.A.’s legacy.

‘Sharknado 3’: TV’s Guilty Pleasure

Back for the third time! Oh, hell yes.

Don’t judge me.

I am a fan of the ‘Sharknado’ franchise put out by the SyFy Channel.

‘What Happened, Miss Simone?’: A High Priestess Speaks of Rebellion

What Happpened, Miss Simone Netflix One Sheet

Dispersed among the footage are archival glimpses into Nina’s journals, where we can read quick sketches of her own thoughts and feelings. And although the particular journal entries are chosen and shaped to fit the narrative Garbus is presenting, it only helps to give us a deeper understanding of the complexity of being a Black woman artist in racist America. Nothing has changed.

‘Ackee & Saltfish’: There Are Other Narratives to Explore

poster ackee

We need new filmmakers like Cecile Emeke to break new ground with digital media. Smash the stranglehold of white filmmakers being the only ones telling Black stories that often dredge up old stereotypes and tired narratives. We need the specificity of Emeke’s vision. And dammit, I need more Rachel and Olivia in my life.

‘Bessie’: Unapologetically Black, Female, and Queer

The Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith. Mood:Indigo

‘Bessie’ is one of the rare mainstream films that shows an unapologetically Black, female and queer protagonist. That alone is groundbreaking in an otherwise straightforward biopic.

‘It Follows’: More Dread Than Bloody Red

"It Follows" movie poster.

It’s not the best horror movie I’ve seen, but it’s a decent flick that can be added to the pantheon of solid fares to check out this year. Many of my horror comrades hated it or were disappointed, but I encourage everyone to see it just for the masterful use of dread instead of the usual one-note slasher or gore-riddled bloodfests that are passed off as great horror cinema. The genre I love is more concerned with spectacle rather than genuine fear.

‘Still Alice’: The Horrors of a Mind Interrupted

Julianne Moore as Alice, a performance that earned her a Best Actress Academy Award.

“Why do you want to see a movie that looks depressing?” I asked, trying to persuade her to watch something more entertaining. In reality, what I wanted to say was “Look, I don’t want to re-live Aunt Grace onscreen.” I eventually did say that out loud as we walked into a theater full of people that looked my mother’s age and older. I did a double take. I could not believe there was no one else there my age or younger inside the theater.