The annual event held in Long Beach, California boasts of drawing approximately 100,000 attendees each year, making it the 2nd largest Pride festival in California and 4th largest in the nation. With such star power like Queen Latifah embracing this year’s event and taking the stage, attendance was presumably higher because everybody loves to see and hear a queen. And there was only one way for Her Highness to make her grand entrance, and that was upon the wings of rap hits like “U.N.I.T.Y.” and “Ladies First.”
Similar to the title of her 2003 film Bringing Down the House, Queen Latifah came hyped, energized and ready to do just that. She “brought it” in more ways than one, bridging songs with inspiring and encouraging words by telling the crowd to “let their inner light shine in the world” and “to conquer hate with love.”
It wasn’t just her Covergirl glow that radiated from the main stage and mesmerized festival goers; it was the light of her transparency emanating from within. The moment she uttered, “I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time,” the crowd knew she was prepared to reflect all sides of herself throughout her musical performance.
She was as free as she wanted to be and as honest as she needed to be, from bumping and grinding onstage to acknowledging that she was proud to be among “her people” to the predominantly LGBT crowd.
In my opinion, for a highly respected African American celebrity to display that kind of courage was “Simply Beautiful” – the Al Green remake she rendered midway through her performance.
It was a celebration and party onstage as well as offstage as Queen Latifah performed from a smorgasbord of musical genres ranging from rap, hip hop, jazz, R&B to reggae as well as performing songs from various artists and paying homage to a plethora of female rappers.
Boldly proclaiming that today’s hip hop is “missing the female voice,” it wasn’t too many moons ago when Queen Latifah first busted onto the scene as a socially conscious East Coast female rapper to debut her album All Hail The Queen. It represented both strength and softness, and provided a positive image of beauty, class and self-confidence for young African American women.
Although originally from the East Coast and retaining a residence there, Queen Latifah took a moment to express her love and appreciation for the West Coast by performing the Roy Ayers’ hit “Everybody Loves The Sunshine.”
The multi-talented artist has always been ready and willing to share her gift with the world which enabled her to skyrocket to fame in music, film, television, and as a spokes-model where she remains at the top of her game.
Her first musical appearance at the Gay Pride Festival was a testament that Queen Latifah not only wants to be true to her loyal fans, but that she is willing to stand up and be herself, perhaps gaining even deeper respect and appreciation from her supporters.
Dana Stringer is a freelance writer based in Southern California. Contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org
The movie may be the very definition of contrivance, coming as it does from the blithely sexist relationship guide “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” co-written by radio host and comedian Steve Harvey. Considering its source, though, one of the more unpromising comedies of the year has turned out to be pretty funny.
Few bestsellers ever got that way underestimating the American public’s taste for generalities about the gender wars. Harvey’s 2009 “how to” divides humans into two camps: those with “the cookie” (women) and the cookie monsters (men). Harvey and co-writer Denene Millner categorize the ones with the cookies as either “sports fish” or those deserving of the label of “keeper,” someone who “understands her power and wields it like a samurai sword.”
“A woman’s love,” writes Harvey, “is emotional, nurturing, heartfelt — sweet and kind and all-encompassing.” But as he later writes, “Please understand: the way we men connect is by having sex. Period.”
How did director Story and screenwriters Keith Merryman and David A. Newman (“Friends With Benefits”) squeeze an enjoyable film out of this? By retaining Harvey’s archetypes but getting creative about humanizing the people wearing the labels.
Read/learn more at LA Times.
*A decade ago, Steven Soderbergh won an Academy Award for Traffic, a multi-layered potboiler highlighting the hypocrisy and corruption permeating political bureaucracies entrusted with waging the war on drugs. With Contagion, the iconoclastic director has fashioned another international mindbender, although the focus this go-round is on the medical community’s attempt to allay the public’s fears about a fictional outbreak of a deadly virus bubbling into a global pandemic.
Soderbergh assembled an impressive ensemble to execute his apocalyptic vision, an A-list cast featuring a quartet of Academy Award-winners in Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Gwyneth Paltrow, as well as a trio of Oscar-nominees in Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne and Elliott Gould. Based on a sobering screenplay by Scott Z. Burns, the distressingly-realistic adventure paints a relentlessly-grim picture of the paranoia apt to accompany the rapid transmission of an inscrutable affliction imperiling the bulk of humanity.
As the film unfolds, we find corporate executive Beth Emhoff (Paltrow) fighting a cough as she flies back to Minneapolis following a business trip to Hong Kong. En route, she takes a phone call from an ex-boyfriend she apparently just shared a rendezvous with during a brief layover in Chicago.
Upon arriving home, Beth’s symptoms escalate to include a fever, seizures and finally foaming at the mouth before she succumbs to the disease in less than 48 hours. Her grieving husband (Damon) has to come to grips with his sudden loss while simultaneously worrying whether or not he and the kids (Griffin Kane and Anna-Jacoby-Heron) might have somehow caught the mysterious malady.
After performing a gratuitously-gruesome autopsy, the coroner identifies the cause of death as “MEV1,” a fast-acting pathogen they’ve never seen before. Retracing Beth’s route back to Asia, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) subsequently dispatches an epidemiologist (Winslet) to Hong Kong in search of answers, although that proves a little late as the infection rate has already escalated exponentially into a planetary plague.
Soon, folks are dropping like flies in every city with less than six degrees of separation from proverbial Patient Zero, and the authorities are tempted to participate in a cover-up to prevent mass hysteria. And it falls to an intrepid internet blogger (Law) to disseminate the truth about a readily-available herbal antidote, if only he isn’t discredited for a past indiscretion.
Contagion’s complicated storyline contains a plethora of additional plot points, ranging from an avaricious pharmaceutical peddling an ineffective vaccine to a renegade scientist (Gould) being pressured to destroy the fruits of his promising research to the ethical dilemma of a CDC official (Fishburne) who selectively uses top secret information to direct his wife (Sanaa Lathan) from a hot zone to a safe haven while leaving thousands around her to perish.
Though paling in intensity to Soderbergh’s far more compelling Traffic, the convincingly-scripted and adroitly-acted Contagion nonetheless presents a chillingly-plausible peek at how quickly civilization might unravel in the face of a rapidly-accelerating, extinction-level, biological event. Not exactly a pleasant prospect to behold.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity and disturbing images.
Running time: 105 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers
*When I sat down to listen to Hamid Cooper’s latest album The Spirit Filled Latin Jazz, I was completely blindsided by its melodic infusion of Africa, Cuba, traditional Jazz and how Cooper’s own Middle Eastern heritage adds a distinct flavor to the sound.
After my third listen it was off to Google to learn more about Mr. Cooper and his music, a sound so diverse and so tight, had to have a story that I needed to know to truly understand and enjoy the music. I read how he was influenced by his father’s Afro-Cuban record collection while growing up in Iran, studied health/fitness, arts and culture in Denmark, but never relinquished that love of music and ultimately followed that love into the United States in 1998.
The Spirit Filled Latin Jazz is the culmination of that love and desire to be a musician; the percussion Cooper plays on “Blue Bossa” hypnotizes you right until you realize that you’re now lost in the piano and horns and before you know it, the groove has taken you somewhere else, somewhere beautiful. By the time I reached “St. Thomas”, I imagined I was on a beach in St. Thomas; this is vacation music, an aural excursion above the concrete jungles that confine many of us.
I replayed “Footprint” half a dozen times, lost in the groove of the bass, woodwind and mesmerizing solo by Cooper on the congas. My wife is the Jazz aficionado in the house, so when I glanced over my shoulder to see her hips swaying to the rhythm, I knew I was on to something good. The reinterpretation of “Besame Mucho” updates a classic and makes it sexy, as is the case with “Desafinado” and “Girl from Ipanema.”
Cooper has definitely drawn from his influences and childhood favorites while constructing an album that’s based on beauty as much as it’s constructed around chords, measure, timbre, improvisation and all that Jazz. Memories of his dad’s record collection are evident as he incorporates thesounds of the past and creates a present sound that is as beautiful as a view
overlooking a Caribbean beach in the middle of July…makes me want to be there right now, think I need to listen to The Spirit Filled Latin Jazz and escape from Philadelphia.
*When three best friends meet for drinks after work one evening, each shares a tale of woe worse than the next about his boss from hell. Dale (Charlie Day) complains about how his, Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston), has been pressuring him to sleep with her, despite the fact that he’s head-over-heels in love with his fiancée Stacy (Lindsay Sloane). However, the sexually-harassed dental hygienist feels that he can’t quit his job, because it’s hard for him to get hired as a registered offender with a history of exposing himself to children.
Meanwhile, Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), the second banana at a chemical corporation, relates how he was being groomed to replace Jack Pellit (Donald Sutherland) as CEO, when the old man passed away unexpectedly, leaving the family-owned business to his son, Bobby (Colin Farrell). And the profligate heir has already started to run the company into the ground by firing loyal employees and frittering away profits on prostitutes and cocaine.
Last but not least there’s Nick (Jason Bateman), an executive at an investment firm who was recently passed over for a promotion promised to him by his sadist (Kevin Spacey) of a boss. In fact, Mr. Harken is so Machiavellian he’d fire somebody for being two minutes late.
In the real world, these buddies would probably just cry in their beer about being abused in the workplace and leave it at that. But in the realm of revenge comedy such situations serve as the cinematic fodder for rationalizing murder. Thus, the distasteful premise of Horrible Bosses actually has the beleaguered trio entering a conspiracy to kill their tormentors.
Directed by Seth Gordon (Freakonomics), Horrible Bosses plays out as a meanspirited indulgence in vengeance way too preposterous on its face for any sane person to suspend disbelief for even a second. After all, what guy in his right mind who has Jennifer Aniston throwing herself at him is going to resort to homicide, even if he’s not inclined to take her up on the offer? Similarly, nobody normal decides to go postal like Dale’s pals because of their being denied a raise.
Be that as it may, this flawed flick has our hapless heroes consulting a hit man (Jamie Foxx) before becoming hopelessly embroiled in a harebrained scheme. Don’t be surprised to find yourself rooting for the bosses instead of these three stooges should you opt to invest in this implausible adventure.
As for the brand of humor, the graphic shocksploit repeatedly relies on curse words and the crudest of vulgarities for punch lines as opposed to creativity or sophisticated repartee. For example, Jamie Foxx’s character’s name is Mother-[expletive] Jones. Why, because he [expletived] his mother. How charming. In another scene, maneater Dr. Harris blackmails Dale with, “If you don’t [expletive] me, I’m going to tell Stacy you [expletived] me. How ladylike.
An overindulgence in coarse language highlighting profanity as the hobgoblin of small minds and unimaginative scripts.
Fair (1 star)
Rated R for sexuality, crude humor, pervasive profanity and some drug use.
Running time: 100 minutes
Distributor: New Line Cinema
To see a trailer for Horrible Bosses, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh9cG5dzs-U