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Kevin Iso Puts on for Flatbush with his new show Flatbush Misdemeanors

“Flatbush Misdemeanors” is a new dark comedy series airing on Showtime from Kevin Iso and Dan Perlman. The series is a raw and compelling look at life in Flatbush, Brooklyn where everyone does what they can to get by in their day-to-day lives. It’s a show filled with love, brotherhood, and an undeniable appreciation for the city the characters call home.

The show is adapted from Iso and Perlman’s work on their award-winning web series of the same name. That success sprouted the opportunity of taking the web series to television continuing in a trend that is becoming the norm for finding and developing talent in Hollywood. 

But just like the characters in “Flatbush Misdemeanors,” Kevin Iso is just glad for the opportunity to create and put on for the city he loves. We sat down with Iso to learn more about the inspiration for the series, transitioning from the web to television, and how the recent success is affecting him.

Flatbush Misdemeanors (Official Series Site) Watch on Showtime
Kevin Iso (Left) and Dan Perlman (Right) In “Flatbush Misdemeanors” (Credit: Showtime)

Flatbush Misdemeanors

Kulture Hub: What was the inspiration behind the title “Flatbush Misdemeanors?”

Kevin Iso: The word misdemeanors sorta came about in the title because we all kinda have to break the law in a way, one way or another to survive, and not in a way with malicious intent or violence. But it’s like you do certain things where you just need to make some money. So I’m going to sell this bag or whatever it is that you might be into or something small like stealing chocolate milk from the lunch line. 

I remember when I was in a defensive driving class for getting pulled over and dude told me that if a cop wants to pull you over then he can. There’s no way to drive perfectly. And it hit me that, yo we’re committing crimes no matter what we do and that really stuck with me.

With Flatbush, I’m from Houston originally and I’m Nigerian. I remember in 2015 I went to Nigeria for the first time and out there I had seen people selling grains, food, whatever on the side of the road. And when I was in Flatbush I saw the same thing and it felt like I hadn’t moved at all. It felt like the same place.

Growing up, being African you were always the butt of the joke to the point where people were trying to hide who they were. To put this show in Flatbush was an opportunity to shed light and put all of these cultures on television in a positive way.

Capturing Flatbush authentically

KH: How important was it to highlight Flatbush in a realistic way through the show?

ISO: That was honestly my biggest concern. I was super afraid that this thing would be Americanized or made to fit the pop culture, you know what I mean?

So down to every detail, we got artists from the neighborhood in the show. Their paintings are in the show. It’s all about those details and luckily our DP (director of photography) and wardrobe is from Flatbush. So it was a collective. Even in the Roti shop.

I remember they had the menu with like chicken curry. And we have some Trini people on the crew so I asked them does this menu look right. And they were like “Hell nah! It’s curry chicken.” And we changed it cause it all had to be right man.

KH: What was it like giving people from Flatbush an opportunity to be on-screen and represent their own community?

ISO: It was cool man. I was trying to do that intentionally. Angela Katherine who plays Amaya, we were filming across the street from a school and she was like “Yo, I went to school there!” So to see her happy, things like that mean more to me than a lot of this.

The cop from the first episode is also from the area and when he pulled up to film he said that he walked there from his crib and I thought that was dope. So it was dope to do this for the community for sure.

The intricacies of television

KH: What was it like transitioning from a web series to television?

ISO: It’s challenging because you go from doing something yourself where you don’t have a huge team which is challenging in itself. But you don’t deal with locations, the many hours in a day, So it’s like the grass is greener kind of thing. By yourself, you’re like ‘man nobody is watching this.’ But at the same time, you have the freedom to do a lot of things you can’t when you get into production.

You have all these limitations because that’s just how television is. So not knowing how TV works was just a huge learning experience. And it makes me actually appreciate other shows more. It made me appreciate “Atlanta” a lot more because I went back and watched it with this new lens I have. Knowing how much it cost and what this takes, now I know what they have to go through.

The inspirations behind Flatbush Misdemeanors

KH: What were the main inspirations for this series? Is there a lot of personal influence on the story or do most of the themes and storytelling come from things you’ve heard or experienced in the city?

ISO: Definitely the city itself. One thing for me was Jay Electronica’s music. The way he has those long scores where Ronald Reagan would talk for two minutes before he starts rapping. It sets the mood for what you’re about to listen to. So how can I translate that to the television world?

Another big one is “Hey Arnold.” They were talking about some real shit on that show. And it was the way they put it together that was dope. As a kid you wouldn’t really know what it was about. Like with chocolate boy, he was addicted to chocolate but as an adult you realize it’s about addiction.

Stoop kid represented the people who never leave their block because they’re afraid to. The way they pieced that show together, all of the characters, and in a way that didn’t feel preachy. That’s what we shot for. It’s hard to explain the show to people but that’s what I say. It’s like “Hey Arnold.”

Balance is everything

KH: Now you created this show with Dan Perlman as well. What is it like collaborating as a duo on a project like this?

ISO: You got to look at it like an actual relationship where you figure out what works well between you guys. And you give the other the space to do their thing and then you do yours. But together you guys figure out what works best when it’s both of you and you understand each other. So you gotta kind of treat it like you’re dating somebody.

KH: What is it like taking this next step to television? Are you excited about this moment?

ISO: I don’t feel this over-elation or excitement about any of it, to be honest with you. I don’t really like to think that way because throughout my career I always had these high expectations when something would happen.

Like I had my first agent when I was 23 and I was like, Oh, I’m going to be out of here. And then within like nine months, they dropped me and that shit taught me a lot. I was depressed for like a year. I remember that whole year I wrote like one joke and it was just angry and mean and I was like what is wrong with me?

But that taught me bro, don’t set your heights too high to the point you start losing your mind. Like oh, I’m gonna be at the Emmys and this and that. Like no, just live in the present and enjoy it. So that’s where my mind is.

“Flatbush Misdemeanors” premiered on May 23rd on Showtime. 

Those Who Wish Me Dead review: We need more Angelina Jolie

In our latest review, we have Those Who Wish Me Dead, a new film on HBO Max, starring Angelina Jolie. The film follows Hannah, a smokejumper in Montana reeling from the loss of three lives she failed to save from a fire, who encounters a traumatized boy with nowhere else to turn.

With the world slowly but surely reopening there are a lot more movies opening only in theaters now. So naturally, a lot of these films are taking over the conversation, leaving a film on streaming like this one, left behind.


Angelina Jolie is a bonafide star

Jolie seems to be having a resurgence in her acting career. With both this film and her starring role in The Eternals later this year, it seems that acting is once again her focus after years of producing and directing excellent films herself. And it’s good to see her in front of the camera again because she is a phenomenal actor, especially in this film when she is on screen.


And that’s the biggest problem with this film. Jolie isn’t on screen nearly as much as I would like. Finn Little plays the young boy in the film who ends up on his own being chased by two trained killers.

The execution of this plot point is the bare minimum in effort. I found myself not really understanding why this kid is in this position and what the backstory behind that has to do with Jolie’s character and this world of smokejumpers that is established in the first few minutes of the movie.

What is smokejumping? Do we end up learning enough?

Smokejumpers are exactly what they sound like they are. They jump from the sky into the smoke of wildfires to find and rescue anyone caught in the destruction and send them back to safety.

Without knowing anything about the film, you’d think that this would be a very character-driven story about Jolie’s character coming to terms with losing lives on her last mission. And also a golden opportunity for the audience to learn more about the perils of this unique job.

Instead this film feels like two concepts smashed into one screenplay. There’s a compelling smokejumper film, and then there is this espionage, action, chase film forced in. It did not fit for me at all because the film was constantly at odds with itself.

The assassins in the film are never really explained. Their motivations are simplistic yet somehow unclear, and you learn very little about this town, the characters within it, and that’s what made the beginning of the film special for me. 

Those Who Wish Me Dead review

With so many concepts and ideas forming at the same time, there is not a lot of runtime to handle it all. Clocking in at just one hour and thirty-nine minutes, the film is short. And half of it is spent in a standoff at the watchtower Jolie’s character lives in.

You leave the film empty. Not really gaining anything from what you just watched and that’s disappointing considering that I was looking forward to this film.

Not to say that it is a bad film. The cinematography is excellent and the acting from everyone is well done. There also is a heavy amount of action that will please those movie fans. The script just leaves something to be desired. 

I think a film like this could’ve been a unique opportunity to transport audiences into the lives of smokejumpers. That’s what movies are about. Taking us from our daily lives into the lives of other people we may have never thought of or seen for a few hours.

Instead, the premise of this film just felt like the backdrop for an action movie to give it an appearance of a unique flair. When in reality this is a film we’ve all seen a thousand times.

In review, Those Who Wish Me Dead isn’t something you should rush to go see. It’s a decent film. But if you’re expecting it to be anything more than what it is, don’t hold your breath. There are a lot of better films releasing that may be worth your time more than this. 

The Outside Story is perfect cinematic comfort food

The Outside Story follows Charles Young, who’s an introverted editor living in his 2nd-floor apartment, always on a deadline and in a rut. When he locks himself out of his building, he’s forced to go outside and confront the world he’s been avoiding.

This is the first starring role for Brian Tyree Henry who many of you may know from the FX series “Atlanta.” Filmwise, he’s appeared in smaller roles in a variety of movies, with his best in my opinion being his eerie and haunting monologue in If Beale Street Could Talk.

So I have always respected him as an actor and loved to see him in anything really, so of course, I wanted to check this film out.


The Outside Story

The Outside Story is a fun and light-hearted indie film that doesn’t overstay its welcome, clocking in at just 85 minutes. This film is what I would call cinematic comfort food. The kind of film where you find yourself smiling and genuinely rooting for the characters on screen and you leave it just as happy.

Much of that has to do with Henry’s performance. Much like his previous roles he is very likable in the film and carries with him a certain comedic charm that carries much of the film’s more lighthearted scenes. But he’s also exceptional at portraying drama, hopelessness, and pain. And he puts that to the test here.

I think this role was perfect for him as his first feature because if this was your introduction to his acting, you pretty much walk away with a great understanding of what kind of performer he is. I don’t only attribute it to him, but the writing and overall direction as well.

Setting-building in The Outside Story

When Henry’s character, Charles, is locked out of his apartment, naturally the film has to find ways to fill in that space of time between him being locked out and him finding his way back inside. And it’s interesting but also naturally done how the film introduces us to his world.

A lot of films, especially fantasy or sci-fi films, use a character to introduce us to the world of the film. We see the world through their eyes essentially. In this film, we know how this world operates already. It’s a normal modern-day Brooklyn setting that won’t surprise anyone when you’re watching this.

What makes it interesting on screen is the fact that Charles has no clue how this world works. He’s always inside, becoming a recluse of sorts, so this situation forces him to get to know his neighbors, to learn more about his community, to really become a part of his community that he so often neglected. 

So the film is about more than just Charles finding himself as a character. It’s about Charles finding his place in the world but on a much smaller scale. We watch him learn from other characters and grow as a person from these experiences when he’d much rather be inside working or hiding from the outside world.

In conclusion…

And that’s what makes it such a feel-good film. There’s also a relationship aspect with his girlfriend that I don’t want to spoil too much. But it serves as a great motivator for him as well and just adds to that warm feeling you get when watching it. 

Overall I don’t have many negatives with this film. It’s not perfect by any means. Some of the dialogue could be tighter and because of the length we don’t get a lot from the side characters.

They’re very much in the film as plot devices for his growth, which isn’t a bad thing at all, but more development with some, like the police officer in the film who is dedicated to her job of writing parking tickets which becomes a running joke in the film, would’ve been great.

Despite that, the film is a great time. It’s not on any streaming services but you can watch it anywhere online you can rent movies.

Can DC move past its enduring shadow of racism?

The DC Extended Universe helmed under Warner Bros. has long played second-fiddle to Disney’s dominant Marvel Cinematic Universe. The recent announcement of a Superman film reboot under the production of J.J. Abrams and written by Ta-Nehisi Coates looks to shake up the future of DC films by being the first cinematic iteration of a Black Superman.

What on the surface seems forward-thinking and innovative by D.C. is in fact long-overdue and lagging behind the Marvel competition.

black superman
Superman (Calvin Ellis) Earth 23, DC Comics (via

Chasing the competition

Marvel has seen success with diversifying its heroes on screen over the past few years. There have been box-office and Oscar-winning hits like Black Panther, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, and also the introduction of Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson as the new Captain America. Marvel thus turned the corner on diversity in the superhero entertainment space.

DC is attempting to make that same leap, though under the burden of allegations of racial discrimination shadowing their rebrand. The release of the Snyder Cut of 2017’s “Justice League” earlier this year brought many of these allegations to the mainstream surface.

dc racism
Ray Fisher as “Cyborg” in “Justice League.” (via WarnerBros)

Racism prevalent within DC

Ray Fisher who played the character “Cyborg” in the film, detailed the many grievances he had with Warner Bros. and DC film executives along with racism he experienced under Justice League director Joss Whedon during the filming process.

Fisher accused executives of reducing his character’s role in the Justice League script, sexualizing the character in the film, and of stating that there could not be “an angry Black man at the center of the film.”

Fisher was also set to appear as “Cyborg” in The Flash film but was cut out of the film entirely by higher-ups with no plans to re-cast his character.

While the Snyder Cut redeemed the character and respected Ray Fisher as a Black actor with Zack Snyder’s original vision for the film, it’s an odd timing for there to be the introduction of a new Black Superman following this backlash with much of the same executive structure still intact.

Black superman? What about DC’s Black Superheroes?

dc racism
Static in the “Static Shock” TV series from 2000. (via Variety)

A Black Superman isn’t a foreign concept. One exists in the comics already.

Calvin Ellis is the civilian identity of Earth 23’s Kalel in the DC Universe, making him the perfect character to use for the Superman reboot. The character is relatively unknown to most mainstream audiences.

But the decision to go in this direction with DC’s film universe is strange when there are more recognizable Black characters in their catalog. Characters that haven’t been given the big-screen treatment despite fan demand.

These include John Stewart (Green Lantern), who Warner Bros. made Zack Snyder cut from “Justice League,” Vixen, or Static, the teenage electrical superhero that had an early 2000’s cartoon series and a planned movie from Michael B. Jordan that has yet to fully form.

A Black Superman film being fast-tracked by the studio is blatant disrespect to the characters and filmmakers who fought for many of DC’s Black characters to appear in the past.

Black representation in Hollywood

Black Panther proved that original Black superhero characters could thrive and perform well both culturally and at the box office.

DC could thus utilize its vast array of characters to mimic the same success that Marvel has achieved. Calvin Ellis’s Superman seems more like a litmus test to see what superhero film audiences will accept. And this is unnecessary given that audiences will show up for Black characters.

With the report that Hollywood loses over $10 Billion a year from not having Black representation, the time to take risks on original characters is now.

We don’t know if a Black Superman will work, but the racism within DC needs to change

It remains to be seen how this new Superman iteration will work out. But it is clear that DC and Warner Bros. have steps to take to amend the racism at the workplace. Steps to take to apologize to the Black heroes and actors within their catalog.

Superman is the most recognizable and celebrated superhero in history. And DC is banking on that legacy to translate to success despite the racial changeup. The question remains: will the audience find this attempt to be earnest and worth their time and money?

Just like issue #542 of “The Adventures of Superman,” DC is in a race against time to catch up to the rest of the entertainment world. And only time will tell if they succeed.

The implications of Michael B. Jordan’s Without Remorse

Without Remorse is yet another installment in the long-spanning Tom Clancy film series. Tom Clancy properties are insanely popular and as many of you know have spanned into films, TV series, and even video games.

The past few years have given us multiple interactions of the Jack Ryan character, which I believe Harrison Ford’s films are still the best on-screen depiction of that character. 

This time around we are introduced to the origin story of John Clark.

Clark is a prominent character in many of the older adaptations of Jack Ryan’s stories. And is also considered to be Clancy’s second most popular character behind Ryan. 


2021’s Without Remorse gives us the franchise’s first Black lead

Clark has been portrayed by Willem Dafoe and Liev Schreiber in the past. Michael B. Jordan takes over in the role making him the first Black lead in these films and the first Black actor to take on the John Clark role.


Now of course that is breaking barriers for the series in its own right, but he also served as one of the main producers of the film so it’s nice to see that he had a vision for this film and created the opportunity for himself to star in this film.

Like any Tom Clancy movie, this is a film full of espionage and high octane action. Now Clark’s character is presented as a more brutal and by any means necessary type of character which is a stark contrast from Jack Ryan who plays more by the rules and is subdued to an extent.

So the action in this film outweighs the mystery and suspense. The plot really doesn’t give you much to think about. You’ll know exactly where this film is going. 

The story, Lauren London, and tributes to Nipsey

The story centers around Clark trying to avenge the murder of his pregnant wife, Pam, played by Lauren London, who returns to acting in this film after taking a hiatus following the death of Nipsey Hussle. His music is prominent in the promotional material for the movie. 

As time goes on, Clark and his crew unveil a larger conspiracy between the United States and Russia. The cast is rounded out by Jodie Turner-Smith as the squad leader, Jamie Bell, and Guy Pearce who of course plays the most Guy Pearce villain he could. It’s kind of his thing at this point. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen him in any movie. But it’s a stellar cast.

With that being said, the acting takes a tremendous backseat here. I wouldn’t say that it’s bad but it isn’t anything to write home about. Now I know a lot of people have been criticizing it. But for the type of film this is, the acting is serviceable. You don’t watch a film like this for amazing acting. You watch it for the thrills and action and on that front this film still delivers.

Michael B. Jordan is an absolute star

Jordan is excellent in the role. He even also did his own stunts for this film which is becoming a trademark for him. He’s probably one of the most physically demanding actors of our time seeing how he’s able to transform his body for roles in Creed, Black Panther, and now Without Remorse.

He’s proven that he’s willing to put his body through pressure in order to service the story. And I feel like he should be commended for it. We’ve seen actors like Hugh Jackman get praised for transforming their bodies, for Wolverine in Jackman’s case over 20 years. Black actors like Jordan should also get those same flowers.

The set pieces in the film are phenomenal. From the plane scene to the prison scene where Clark fends off hordes of officers, it’s truly impressive the choreography and stunt work being done here. Any action movie fan will thus enjoy this. 

The film does end a bit abruptly. And with an hour and 49 minutes of runtime, I feel it still could’ve been stretched more to tell more of the backstory of these characters. Or give more context to the threat that they face in the film. The movie pushes you from set piece to set piece pretty quickly which makes the gravity of each situation and how Clark handles them dissipate far too fast.

Without spoilers, the film does set itself up for potentially becoming a new franchise in the Tom Clancy series. And I hope it does. It was great seeing a Black lead in this type of film and the action on-screen entertained me the whole way through. If you can get past the shaky acting and just enjoy Without Remorse for what it is, you will have a good time.

Mortal Kombat movie review: The video games would be proud

The Mortal Kombat movie recently released in theaters and on HBO Max. It’s the latest film adaptation of the popular video-game fighter series. This is just the third live-action adaptation with the first releasing in 1995 and its sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation in 1997.

The 90s movies are notoriously cheesy. That isn’t really a bad thing because this new film is just as cheesy at times. However, the 90s films are really just bad movies that even most Mortal Kombat fans aren’t a fan of. 

The Mortal Kombat movie vs. the games

Aside from an animated film, there hasn’t been another Mortal Kombat film until now. I talk about movies here, but I am also a huge video-game fan. And the Mortal Kombat series is one that I have been playing since I was a kid. I even had the terrible sub-zero spin-off game for the original Playstation. 

Thankfully Sub-Zero is way more enjoyable in this film. So as a fan, there wasn’t much that I needed to satisfy me here. I didn’t need the second coming of Citizen Kane or something mind-blowing storywise.

In fact, the Mortal Kombat games have been getting a lot of praise over the last few years for having pretty competent stories for fighting games, which for those in the know, in the video-game industry, fighting games are notorious for terrible stories.


Using that same expectation on an adaptation of Mortal Kombat, I just wanted something that was competent and took me from A to B and this film did that.

What is there to like and dislike about this film?

An interesting risk this film takes that I don’t feel that it lands is the decision to center the film around a brand new character named Cole. I’m fine with creating a new character for the film. My issue is that the nature of his character does little to justify his inclusion.

Cole is far from interesting and he’s more or less a caricature of the struggling fighter stories we’ve seen in countless other films before. The film truly shines when the more well-known characters from the games are on screen.

I think most people won’t like Kano but I felt that he was perfect and spot on in relation to his video-game counterpart. Raiden is exactly the same, Sonya, Jax, the whole original Mortal Kombat roster are brought to life here. The standouts though were of course Scorpion and Sub-Zero.

Weighing the positives and negatives

The conflict between Scorpion and Sub-Zero is translated to screen masterfully.

The opening 15 minutes of the film reels you in by fully exploring in just a few minutes, the humanity of Scorpion which is impressive considering that in the games and later on in the film, he’s a demon ninja from hell.

The opening fight with him defending himself alone in the village was a fantastic opener and showed right away why this film earned its R-rating.

But I’ve always been more of a Sub-Zero fan and the film delivers on making him look as cool as he can, pun intended. His fights are visceral and brutal and a lot of the moves he does in the film are ripped straight from the video-games. He’s the most feared fighter in the film and that’s apparent as soon as he comes on screen for the first time against Scorpion.

There are a few downsides to this film and as an action movie fan and avid fan of the game franchise, they may seem a bit picky but they are issues nonetheless. 

First, the fights are not as well choreographed as they should be. The camera often cuts entirely too much in scenes to the point where you have no clue what is going on in a fight. This was an editing style for action movies that was insanely popular during the mid-2000’s to early 2010’s and I hoped it would stay there but here it is.

Temper your expectations for the Mortal Kombat movie

That compounded with the heavy emphasis on fatalities hurts the fighting aspects of the film. Fatalities are finishing moves on your opponent in the games.

It was a nice treat to see that translated on film to the point where characters even say the classic “fatality” line but the lead-up to these finishers are often weak and less bloody than the games are.

With an R-rating, they should have been able to add more intensity to these fights. The only ones that feel as intense as the games are the Sub-Zero and Scorpion fights. It would have been nice to see the whole film match the energy of those scenes.

The writing for how each character gets their powers or weapons they have in the games is incredibly lazy as well. It’s explained as a random magical power they receive after they’ve earned it through training or high stress situations.

Sounds cool until you see characters like Jax and Kano magically receive metal arms and a metal eye respectively. It’s a stark contrast from the games that give more logical explanations for why they have these abilities.

Aside from these downsides, Mortal Kombat is a great time especially if you are a fan of the video games. I would definitely recommend checking this out especially with other people because of how enjoyable the fights are. A film like this just needs to be 2 hours of pure fun and fights and this film delivers on that.

Look out for more movie reviews here

Regina King and the monumental rise from actor to director

Regina King is one of the hottest talents in Hollywood. Recently receiving praise and awards attention for her work as a director on One Night in Miami, Regina King has shown that she can excel both in front of and behind the camera.

King has come a long way from being a child actor on “227.” We took a look at her path to directing her first feature film and what the future holds for her next.

Regina King on making 'One Night' memorable - The Boston Globe
Regina King and Aldis Hodge on the set of “One Night in Miami” (via Boston Globe/ PATTI PERROS)

Regina King’s acting career

King started off her career in the entertainment industry as a child actor on the 80s sitcom “227.”

She starred as the rebellious teenager Brenda Jenkins. This would be the beginning of an illustrious career that spans over 30 years with iconic roles almost anyone could be familiar with.

King then arrived on the big screen with her first feature film appearance in Boyz n the Hood.

The John Singleton-directed film placed her in a minor role with memorable one-liners that ultimately jump-started her career. From there, King ended up in a variety of iconic 90’s Black films such as Poetic Justice and Friday.

King would later find herself in larger roles in the 2000s in films such as Legally Blonde 2Miss Congeniality 2, and the Oscar-winning Ray Charles biopic, Ray.

Her reach would also extend out into television during this time, taking on the tall task of portraying two characters in the same show on “The Boondocks.”

King played the roles of Riley and Huey Freeman, brothers on the show. She also oftentimes voiced each character back to back in one take. Her TV experience wouldn’t stop there.

King’s TV experience still rivals her film work in quality. King has appeared on a variety of shows such as “Southland,” “Seven Seconds,” “American Crime,” HBO’s “The Leftovers,” and perhaps her best work, HBO’s “Watchmen.”

Regina King on the set of HBO’s Watchmen (via HBO)

King has earned four Emmy wins for best Supporting Actress and Best Lead Actress for her work on these shows. This proves her dominance as an actor in the television space.

Her comfort with TV would become the perfect breeding ground for her future directorial career.

Made for TV

One of the best arenas for new directors to hone their skills is television. King would start her directing career by directing the “Southland” episode titled “Off Duty” in 2013. From there she would direct episodes of some of the most popular shows on television throughout the decade such as “Being Mary Jane,” “Scandal,” “Shameless,” and “Insecure.”

First Look: Regina King the director Directs Southland - TV Guide
Regina King directing on the set of “Southland” (via

Directing for TV can often push a director away from their creative visions as they are ultimately confined to the look, feel, and themes of the show they’re working on.

But King’s directorial style in these shows is evident as much of the attention to detail and framing of character conversations and interaction seen in “One Night in Miami” can be seen throughout her TV directing catalog. 

One Night in Miami

Taking her experience as an actor and TV director, Regina King made One Night in Miami her film directorial debut.

The moment couldn’t be better for her as her previous work before directing this film was If Beale Street Could Talk where she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

King’s name at the time was as strong as ever making her jump to directing a film smoother than it would have been had she made the jump earlier.

The film is an actor’s dream for directing. One Night in Miami is a character-driven film where time often slows down on the screen as the audience listens to the four iconic men of the film just talk to each other about the civil rights movement.

King was the perfect choice to direct this film because of her experience as an actor. The film has since received Golden Globe attention and certainly places Regina King as a director to watch out for in the future

What’s next for Regina King the director?

After One Night In Miami, King has a wealth of options and opportunities ahead of her. Her next role as an actor is in an upcoming western titled The Harder They Fall, directed by Jeymes Samuel and starring the likes of Zazie Beetz, Idris Elba, and LaKeith Stanfield.

As of now, it is unknown what her next steps will be in terms of directing another feature film. But whatever her next project turns out to be, rest assured that it will be hotly anticipated and exciting to see what she does next.

Two Distant Strangers review: A time loop of brutality

In review, Two Distant Strangers is an exceptional film. Still, that doesn’t mean I could enjoy watching it.

Directed by Travon Free, Two Distant Strangers is an Oscar-nominated short film released on Netflix about a young Black cartoonist who finds himself caught in a never-ending time loop with the police officer that murders him.

This film released recently in the shadow of the Daunte Wright shooting that is gripping the nation currently. And the parallels of the film to the nature of reality for Black people living in America make it all the more relevant. 

Two Distant Strangers review

I will say plainly that I did not enjoy this film at all. I didn’t like watching it.

In fact, I procrastinated as much as possible on watching it for myself because of the news cycle and the plethora of films just like this one we’ve gotten in the past. I had to basically build the courage up to mentally put myself through 32 minutes of this.

That’s not to say that the film is bad objectively from a filmmaking or writing perspective. That’s not the case at all, as it is an exceptional film. The cinematography is strong. The use of color is very distinct in the film to create that separation of two worlds essentially between our lead character and the officer.

And the writing is strong albeit not really original. If you’ve seen “Groundhog Day,” “Edge of Tomorrow,” or the best comparison to this film, “See You Yesterday,” then you know exactly how this film plays out.

Noble intentions, but problematic perpetuations

I get the artistic message that it is going for.

Playing off of the time-loop theme, the film is trying to suggest that Black people are essentially caught in a time loop due to us having to experience these traumas over and over again just as the main character, Carter, has to relive his death each time.

There’s routinely a new name added to the list of high-profile police shootings every few months it seems. So this message rings true, but the existence of a film like this also perpetuates that assertion. 

Films about police misconduct or racism are popular and frankly in demand, for example, there’s an Oscar nomination for this film. And especially over the last year, there have been countless articles, videos, and talks surrounding what films white people can use to educate themselves on racism.

Is this kind of art actually beneficial for BIPOC communities?

We’re in an era where activism and profit are securely aligned to the point where many from these affected communities are questioning the merit of these forms of art being made and who they are really made for. 

And that particular attention to your audience is what separates a lot of these films from each other. What makes a film like “Get Out” phenomenal isn’t that it’s about the racist white family. They aren’t the villains of the film.

The real villain was the concept of the sunken-place, illustrating figuratively how Black people can lose their sense of self, their joy, their own being from the pressures of racism in society and how important it is to fight back against that pit to remain true to who we are. And for most people, that concept was missed.

In review, Two Distant Strangers can be helpful, just not for who it’s meant to help

Two Distant Strangers has been lucky in this critical regard because it coincided with the release of Amazon’s television series “THEM” which has caught the brunt of this recent outrage cycle for trying to illustrate the horrors of racism in the most brutal and dehumanizing ways that it could. 

But what becomes clear is clear that these films and TV shows are not made for Black people. We know the issues at hand and many of us experience them first hand on a daily basis. This is why I dreaded watching this film because I knew what I was walking into.

So there is a place for films like “Two Distant Strangers” because someone somewhere will watch it and open their eyes to the realities of America. It shouldn’t be denied the space that it has.

But if you already have a keen understanding of America’s racial dynamics, I would say you’re not obligated to watch anything like this. You wouldn’t be missing out on anything that you couldn’t just go outside and experience for yourself. 

5 directors who capture the truth of Black womanhood

The beauty of film is in how it can transport audiences into the perspective of people different from themselves. Black womanhood is often underrepresented in various sections of society. But it has been increasingly prominent in cinema both in front of and behind the camera.

The rise of Black women in the director’s chair has pushed these kinds of stories to the forefront of cinema. With that said, here are five directors whose work captures the essence of Black womanhood.

Ava DuVernay

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Ava DuVernay headshot (Image via Gabriel Goldberg)

One of the most powerful and respected Black women in Hollywood, DuVernay came from humble beginnings that shaped her into the mogul she is today.

DuVernay started off in entertainment public relations, then transitioning into making her own films.

DuVernay is known widely these days for her groundbreaking Netflix series “When They See Us,” chronicling the Central Park 5. But her first two feature films, I Will Follow and Middle of Nowhere portray the struggles of love and the tenderness of Black womanhood in ways that many haven’t done before.

Her connection with Disney also places her in a historic filmmaking position. By directing Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, she became the first Black woman to direct a big-budget Disney film.

And most importantly, she strayed from the source material, making the main character a young Black girl, casting Storm Reid.

This is all in addition to her behind-the-scenes work. DuVernay places Black women in various production roles on OWN’s “Queen Sugar.”

DuVernay’s Array Crew initiative also looks to expand behind-the-scenes opportunities for women of color. It’s safe to say that DuVernay is a strong champion for Black women in filmmaking.

Radha Blank

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Radha Blank (Image via The Sundance Institute)

Cinema genius Radha Blank is a triple threat. As a writer, director, and actor, Blank released her first film, The 40-Year-Old Version to critical acclaim in a partnership with Netflix.

The film also won the U.S. Dramatic Competition Directing Award at Sundance making her just the second Black woman to take the honor behind Ava DuVurnay.

The film places its perspective on older Black women. Radha herself plays a 40-year-old playwright who becomes a rapper to salvage her voice and creative expression. It’s a heartfelt story of dreams and the fight to preserve creativity no matter a person’s stage in life.

Youth is often romanticized throughout all forms of media. So to see Black women being represented at this age in film breaks barriers and makes way for a fresh story to emerge.

This is the appeal that brought many to Blank and her film that displays the resilience of Black women through Rahda’s fight to be true to her art.

Dee Rees

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Dee Rees (Image via Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock)

Rees is a screenwriter and director most famous for the award-winning Netflix film Mudbound. Her previous two films portray an overlooked community of Black women and a legend of blues.

Pariah portrays a Brooklyn teenager struggling with accepting herself as a lesbian. Most films centered around the LGBT community focus on white characters. Dee Rees tackling this subject matter from the perspective of a Black woman makes it unique. And furthermore, it introduces audiences to this culture.

Continuing in the area of Black women in the LGBT community, Bessie is an HBO film that chronicles the life of Blues singer Bessie Smith. Queen Latifah plays the title character.

Rees not only portrays Smith’s legendary career. But she also portrays other aspects of her love life and the people she held near and dear. It’s a unique look at a legend of Black music and an even stronger portrayal of Black womanhood.

Stella Meghie

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Stella Meghie at “The Photograph” premiere. (Image via Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Stella Meghie is a Canadian filmmaker who centers Black womanhood in all of her films.

Meghie’s first two films bring Black women into the comedy genre with Jean of the Joneses, followed by The Weekend. Both films allowed Black women the chance to see themselves as title characters in comedies centered around Black women, made for Black women.

Each film tackles the struggles and complexities of love lost and found. They also navigate what it means to be a Black woman in the modern world.

Meghie’s most recent film, The Photograph brought the essence of 90s Black romance movies back to the modern era with a timeless story of unexpected love woven together by a single photograph.

It’s a return to an era that seems long gone in filmmaking that Meghie, along with her previous films, wrote and directed herself.

Her next project, I Wanna Dance With Somebody will see her tackling the story of Whitney Houston, one of the greatest R&B/Pop vocalists of all time. Houston’s life is one of love, tragedy, and triumph that deserves to be seen on the silver screen and no better person could be suited for the job than Meghie.

Gina Prince-Bythewood

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Kiki Layne, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Charlize Theron on the set of “The Old Guard” (Image via Vulture)

Gina Prince-Bythewood is another filmmaker who centers Black women in her films.

Bythewood directed the classic Love & Basketball putting her on the map as a feature film director. Since then she has directed various projects including The Secret Life of Bees, Beyond the Lights, and The Old Guard for Netflix.

Bythewood has done the classic love story for Black women but what sets her apart is her transition in the action film space with The Old Guard. Centering her story around Kiki Layne’s character, Bythewood was able to show a Black woman superhero on screen, a rarity in filmmaking.

Bythewood is continuing this shift with her next film, The Woman King which will star Viola Davis as the general of an all-female military unit in their fight against the French military.

Her focus now is to put Black women in the strongest genre of films and allow them to breathe and be themselves, proving that nothing is impossible for these women.

For more on Black womanhood in film:

Concrete Cowboy preserves a unique piece of Black history

Concrete Cowboy was directed by Ricky Staub, based on the novel Ghetto Cowboy by Greg Neri. Ultimately, Concrete Cowboy is a unique piece of Black history not often explored or discussed.

The story follows Cole, a rebellious teen sent to live with his estranged father in Philadelphia for the summer, who finds community with a group of Black cowboys.

What makes this film interesting is how it completely subverts the common expectations of what an urban coming-of-age film should be. There are elements of street life, drugs, and violence. But they take a complete backseat to the heart of this film, and that’s the cowboy community on Fletcher Street.

The Black history explored in Concrete Cowboy

The film isn’t a pure product of fiction. There’s a century-long history of Black cowboys in this community.

The Fletcher Street stables are seen as a safe haven for many in the community especially for kids looking to find ways to avoid the pitfalls of gangs or other street-life temptations. 

People here would raise horses, take care of them, train them, and ride them around. It’s a tight-knit community that truly cares for each other. And from the film, you can tell it’s deeper than horses for these people.

Horses bring them together. But the love they have for each other binds them even stronger together. In fact, many of the actors in the film are actual Fletcher-Street cowboys

The authenticity at the heart of the movie

One of the most powerful scenes in the film comes from Paris played by real-life cowboy Jamil Prattis.

He details the backstory of why he’s in a wheelchair and how that brought him to the cowboy community. It’s heartfelt and almost too real on screen so it wasn’t a surprise to see this was a real person behind this character. 

And stories like that elevate this film, along with the history of cowboys in America. Most people think of Cowboys as John Wayne or Clint Eastwood. But most real cowboys were Black people. It’s beautiful to see that that piece of Black heritage is still preserved in places around the country. 

A different type of gentrification

This film also tells a different kind of gentrification story. Lots of films have covered gentrification in some shape or form, but this film attaches land preservation directly to the history of a community making this deeper than just displacement.

The struggle to preserve the Fletcher Street Stables represents a way of life being at risk as well which makes for a more compelling look at gentrification issues plaguing Black communities in urban areas.

Concrete Cowboy is a beautiful and touching tribute to Black history

The cast of the film was phenomenal as well. Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin play the father and son respectively, along with Jharrel Jerome as Smush, Cole’s friend engulfed in streetlife in the film.

Each actor does a wonderful job in their roles, but it’s mostly what you would expect from these three. I think, much like Nomadland earlier this year, the character performances that will hit audiences the most are the real people in the film.

The film sadly does fall flat a bit at the end. It wraps up its conclusion suddenly to the point where it feels like the writers just couldn’t figure out where else to take these characters at that point.

But it’s almost understandable considering how the ending mirrors the state of the real Fletcher Street Stables. 

Concrete Cowboy is a solid offering from Netflix that is worth your time. Netflix is often hit-or-miss with its original content.

But every now and then a film as good as this one with a great, heartfelt message comes around, that justifies Netflix’s position as a beacon for independent film distribution.