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North Hollywood showcases skateboarding culture in a modern way

*It is important to preface this article by pointing out in no way, shape or form am I hating on the film North Hollywood – in many facets it was brilliant.*

North Hollywood is the culmination of Mikey Alfred’s entire life as a skateboarding documentarian.

Obviously, to capture the sickest flips & board tricks you must be able to skateboard, too. Alfred has pushed the skateboarding subculture to new heights through his signature fisheye lens.

Mikey Alfred has created a prominent role for himself

Clearly, Alfred has garnered some traction with his efforts and proven that he does not need validation from secondary education. Following your dreams versus going to college is a major theme that is touched upon throughout North Hollywood.

north hollywood film
North Hollywood is a skateboarding flick that represents the subculture the right way (via Thrasher Magazine)

The essence of the North Hollywood film relies upon visual style and pop culture homage. Oftentimes, skateboarding is misrepresented as a subculture and does not receive proper documentation.

Mikey and his Illegal Civilization collective have essentially cheated the system and broke the mold of traditional film.

North Hollywood is a carefully composed film and aesthetically pleasing

By doing so, North Hollywood has a crisp visual style and savviness to it. The substance of the film and plot progression is slightly lacking, but where it loses steam in development it makes up for it in cinematography.

north hollywood film
Mikey poses while others spectate and perform tricks in front of legendary shake shack, “Bob’s Big Boy” (via LA Times)

The film itself is loaded with aggression, obscenities, and general disobedience. Exactly what you might expect from a skateboarding movie. The cast features Miranda Cosgrove, Vince Vaughn, and even a cameo from Kelvin Pena (Brother Nature).

Hollywood dismissed Alfred’s script on multiple occasions

Mikey had a tough time landing the script with any motion picture company. The reason being, white characters were chosen to delineate his life experience. Major Hollywood execs could not fathom this as Mikey chose to tell a human story regardless of race. 

illegal civilization
Mikey faced a hard decision between Flower Boy Tour & Mid90s – now he is directing skateboarding films as he always dreamed of (via

North Hollywood displays glimpses of greatness

All in all, given the fact that this is the first feature film directed by Mikey – it is not bad. Some of the intricacies that really sparked interest lie within the fine details. 

Such as, the protagonist punching the air after catching a shiner could be interpreted as a slight nod to Trey from Boyz n the Hood. Also, the unique bond between Mikey and his girl grew from the likes of stones such as rose quartz and citrine. 

north hollywood film
Mikey kicks it with some Illegal Civ members as they scheme up a master plan (via Red Bull).

Traditionalism can be viewed as one character must do push-ups as punishment for foul language and another throws pebbles at a window to get his friend’s attention. 

All in all, this film was above average. It lacked cohesion, had an off-kilter soundtrack, but had some very bright moments. Look for Mikey Alfred to lock in another publishing deal and continue to advance the skateboarding genre with his future films.

Illegal Civilization pushes the boundaries of skateboarding coverage

Illegal Civilization is a skateboarding collective that grew from the concrete. The group’s efforts are a byproduct of the underground, and they fill the void that has long been open in terms of skateboarding recognition.

Illegal Civilization carries a certain type of unbothered disposition that makes it appealing and enticing. 

Illegal Civilization represents a culture of debauchery

Skateboarding and graffiti are seen much in the same realm and dismissed due to their raucous nature and association with debauchery.

Oftentimes, the members that comprise Illegal Civilization would skip school, smoke weed, and skate for hours. They were doing what teenagers do, but they sought out to make it monumental.

illegal civilization
Illegal Civilization stylized font (via Illegal Civ)

Mikey Alfred is the man who made it all possible with his fisheye lens and propensity to capture the obscene. Obscenities fly, bodies hit the floor and smooth tricks are all captured within the Illegal Civilization.

Illegal Civilization does not sugarcoat things

Mikey’s efforts are truly commendable because they showcase every angle of footage – not just the landings.

illegal civilization
Mikey Alfred firmly fixated within his element (via Hypebeast)

Within the social media era, we often post what we want people to see – the accomplishments, achievements, and facade of success. This is where Mikey stands on firm ground: he displays every bit of footage. The rawness of his work still separates him entirely

Illegal Civilization was born and bred via documentation. Sure, it wouldn’t be possible without the incredible groundwork laid via networking and countless hours of skate practice as well. But, without the savviness and ability to capture footage – none of their output would be available for consumption.

Illegal Civ grinds for the subculture to create something bigger than themselves

The idea for Illegal Civilization was conceived at Verdugo Skatepark in Glendale, CA.

This group set out to push the boundaries with defiance and rebellious nature. They sought to redefine the genre through sick tricks, defiance, and classic skating videos. IC managed to tackle all three of these and also took it from just plain videos to entire compilations.

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Nico Hiraga grinds at the top while donning flourescence (via Nylon)

The first compilation was held in the form of a viewing party and not many people showed up. Yet still, the buzz continued to build. The second compilation viewing party was held and the footage was filmed in New York.

“We were old enough to be alone, but young enough not to give a f***”

Mikey Alfred

The third compilation did not receive the response that was expected, so the group decided to move on from viewing parties and foray into the film industry. 

The group elevates its output and film capabilities

Mikey faced the hardest decision of his young career when he had to choose between going on the Flower Boy tour with Tyler the Creator or producing the skate film, Mid90s.

California skateboarding
Cali man grits and grinds while maintaining a snarl (PC: Ant Acosta)

He chose Mid90s and started to build very closely with cast members on set. Working on an official feature film made Mikey less regretful about the fact that he turned down an offer to work with Erica Silverman on the set of Palo Alto. Therefore, Mid90s provided a small victory for skateboarding and continued to push the subculture forward.

Look for Illegal Civilization to make a major splash in the film industry now that they have gathered their footing. Their next feature film is titled, North Hollywood and will delve into the trials and tribulations of becoming a pro skater.

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

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. 

Perspective in Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland: A comprehensive review

Fresh off Nomadland‘s success at the Golden Globes, we have a review going deep into why this journey is worth your time. The film has received high praise and has nabbed director Chloé Zhao a Best Director win at the Golden Globes, making her the first Asian woman to receive the honor.

The film is based on the novel Nomadland by Jessica Bruder. It follows Fern (played by Academy Award Winner Frances McDormand), a modern-day nomad in the American midwest traveling in a van searching for what matters in her life. 

Nomadland review

The film pushes the boundaries of what intimate and engaging indie films can be. Many of the characters in the film are non-actors portraying themselves.

The most notable of them is Bob Wells, who acts in the film as a leader full of wisdom to the nomad community and an emotional rock for many taking up this journey.

In reality, Wells acts in much of the same way, running a YouTube channel called CheapRVliving. His videos teach people about the nomad lifestyle with tutorials. Not to mention, there are interviews with nomads showcasing how they live happily on the road.

Chloé Zhao continues to impress

This is Zhao’s third film, coming off the heels of her excellent sophomore film The Rider.

Nomadland precursors Zhao’s major studio debut with Marvel entertainment’s The Eternals, slated to release later this year.

The Eternals will no doubt be a creative and stylistic departure from the films Zhao has released so far.

The Eternals will take her filmmaking out of the midwest of the United States for the first time, opting instead to tell the story of eternal space-gods sprawling throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s storied fictional history.

It will be interesting to see how her directing style adapts to this new terrain. But if the heart of her previous films like Nomadland shines through in this one, audiences are in for a treat.

Learn more about what makes Nomadland so special in this comprehensive review below

‘A Crime on the Bayou’ director explores Gary Duncan’s fight for justice

“In 1966, in Plaquemines Parish Louisiana, a 19-year-old Black teenager named Gary Duncan was arrested for touching a white boy’s arm. This is his story.”

These words open the film A Crime on the Bayou, the newest documentary from filmmaker Nancy Buirski. Buirski recently spoke to Kulture Hub to offer comments on her latest film.

A Crime on the Bayou

The camera drifts placidly through a bayou, just below the water as rays of sunlight shine down, until a quote from Tolstoy’s War and Peace appears:

“Since corrupt people unite among themselves to constitute a force, honest people must do the same.”

This leads into the first interview clip. Gary Duncan, who was arrested for trying to prevent a fight, tearfully remembers what happened to him years before. A fisherman from Plaquemines Parish, Duncan was falsely accused of a violent crime. And then targeted for punishment by the state as an example.

If that were all there was to his story, it would be far from unique – just another abuse of justice. But Duncan stood up for himself and, eventually, went to the Supreme Court. In fact, it was his appeal against the state of Louisiana which created the precedent that U.S. states must honor requests for jury trials.

Plaquemines Parish

In the 1960’s, white supremacist and political boss Leander Perez controlled the parish. Perez was notorious for his segregationist policies and also his political misconduct.

In 1962, he joined in a high-profile protest against the desegregation of public schools, and ended up on the front page of the New York Times. Perez wanted to make sure the parish’s Black residents remained an underclass.

Thus the legal vendetta he waged against Gary Duncan was just one example of how he tried to keep his idea of the “proper order” in place.

Gary Duncan was far from the first to be arrested and used as an example. “It wasn’t just Gary who suffered that way,” Nancy Buirski, the filmmaker, told Kulture Hub.

But “Gary had a very unique response to his arrest. His arrest was basically a way of putting African Americans in that area on notice.”

As Buirski tells it, “He was unique in his ability to stand up to it. And that’s probably the thing that moved me the most. His incredible fortitude, and his commitment to fighting the system that was oppressing him.”

Gary Duncan’s fight

The more Gary Duncan fought, the more Perez – and the racist judges and officials he appointed – tried to punish him. Furthermore, the white boy whose arm he touched accused Duncan of battery. But despite the local court being clearly against him, he refused to plead guilty.

Each time Duncan and the lawyer representing him found a way out, Duncan would be arrested again days later. Perez also tried to strong-arm the lawyer, Richard Sobol, who came from the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee.

Sobol worked as a civil rights lawyer at the height of Louisiana’s civil rights movement, often despite threats on his life such as those made by Leander Perez. Sobol too was interviewed for Crime on the Bayou, but unfortunately passed away earlier this year.

The story of Gary Duncan and Richard Sobol, to hear them both tell it in the film, is one of a lifelong friendship that began with injustice. The legal fight from Plaquemines Parish all the way up to the US Supreme Court is chronicled in the book Deep Delta Justice by Matthew Van Meter. The idea for the book came to Buirski and she decided to work on a film covering the same story.

“I was really taken with how it seemed to pull together so many of the themes that I had been dealing with in my other two films on racial justice.”

Nancy Buirski

Nancy Buirski

Buirski’s previous films are The Loving Story and The Rape of Recy Taylor. All three films follow people who faced racism and social injustice, and all three films dealt with the law and the politics behind legal processes.

“So many people who stood up for their rights…” pauses Buirski, “they were not trying to change history, they were not activists. They were suffering through oppression, and systemic injustice, and racism, and they decided they were going to fight back.”

Although it may not have been the intent of these people, they did change history. The law was used as a weapon against each of the subjects of Buirski’s documentaries. And their fighting back eventually caused the law to change.

In speaking with Kulture Hub, Buirski described Gary Duncan as a hero. After all, Duncan standing up for his rights helped him get justice, but also helped countless others to this day due to the case’s legal legacy.

Buirski’s film highlights multiple civil rights lawyers involved in and adjacent to Duncan’s case, which helps contextualize both how a white supremacist like Leander Perez maintained his power and how more justice-minded lawyers were able to create change.

Shining a light on injustice

Lolis Elie is another late civil rights lawyer whose son is interviewed in the film. She was instrumental in a lawsuit against Louisiana’s ban on out-of-state lawyers representing defendants. Elie himself was a victim of Louisiana’s segregationist policies growing up.

A comment in A Crime on the Bayou by Armand Derfner is revealing of the situation in the Parish before Duncan’s appeal: “There was a system of pretend law… which they could keep up as long as they weren’t scrutinized by the outside world.”

It was bringing the injustice to light which ultimately led to change. One take-away from the story, then, is that injustice thrives when it remains unknown and unexamined.

When it is brought to the attention of the masses, it is rooted out. This is one of the themes also carried over from Buirski’s other films, and she told Kulture Hub:

“One of the other themes that comes out in the movie that was important to me was the sense that people come together and they work together to try and change things. You see that, particularly The Loving Story. You see it with Recy Taylor, where Rosa Parks comes to her aid, and helps her fight the deal with the court. And you especially see it in Richard Sobol and Gary Duncan, who did remain close friends up until Sobol’s death.”

Nancy Buirski

That friendship is another aspect of the story Buirski emphasizes. Along with the interview footage, photos, newspaper shots, she also weaves footage from the modern day of Sobol and Duncan together.

A Crime on the Bayou

The film even includes a shot of Duncan, Sobol, and Duncan’s family at a crayfish dinner that, Buirski says, “Gary insisted on hosting for us at the end of the movie… Gary eating crayfish with his sisters and brothers.”

Gary Duncan is the youngest of eight siblings. As Buirski says, “they are a very, very close knit family, and they’re thriving” – perhaps a heartwarming family scene like this really is the ideal end to a film about standing up against injustice.

‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ looks like a generational film coming

“Repeat after me. I am a revolutionary,” shouts Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton.

“I am a revolutionary!”

Judas and the Black Messiah, the upcoming Ryan Coogler-produced film, focuses on Fred Hampton and the Black Panther party in the late 1960’s.

In addition to Kaluuya in the starring role, LaKeith Stanfield leads as William O’Neal, party member but operative for the FBI and its attempts to silence the Black Panthers.

In this trailer, Stanfield, fresh off a year of great performances in films like Uncut Gems and Knives Out, shows off his delicate touch and refinery in front of the lens.

He is able to convey so much pain and quandary just in his eyes; a man torn by a moral conflict but also an intrinsic need to survive.

The FBI looks to be largely represented by Jesse Plemons, an actor who has shown an adeptness at playing a sociopath before.

O’Neal holds up his hand in solidarity during Hampton’s speech, but peers across the church crowd and lays eyes on Plemon’s character, Roy Mitchell.

Mitchell looks sinister in his approach; a nearly imperceptible smirk coats his lips. He demands O’Neal give him information on Fred Hampton or go to jail himself.

The music, right from the inception and incrementally so, forebodes. But with the foreboding undercurrent, also rages an impenetrable drum line, one that signals danger and also courage at play.

“These ain’t no terrorists,” Stanfield says to Plemons.

There is hope in Hampton’s speech, no matter how much our cynical and realist minds know how a story ends when a liberator comes up against a system cloaked and birthed in white supremacy.

Hampton shouts:

“You can murder a liberator but you can’t murder a liberation.

You can murder a revolutionary but you can’t murder a revolution!

And you can murder a freedom fighter but you can’t murder freedom!”

In the midst of a monumental and historic moment in U.S. history, Judas and the Black Messiah will show us about a leader from over 50 years ago. A reminder: the fights for liberation and coordinated efforts of abolition are not newfound.

Nor did they start with Hampton, but his example is one of significance. Just 21 at the time, he was chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party.

Leaders exist at any age, and the FBI was so worried about Hampton that they murdered him in his bed in a “raid” in 1969. It is said that O’Neal drugged Hampton that night, and the FBI shot the incapacitated Hampton in his sleep while his girlfriend, nine-months pregnant, also lay.

This story is one that needs to be told, and now is better than never. For the young folks that don’t know the story of Hampton and the Black Panther Party in the 60’s, here’s your chance.

Kaluuya drips with charisma and emotion, in a more animated role than I have ever seen him in before.

Shaka King, director of shorts Newlyweeds, Mulignans, and LaZercism, has helped create a beautiful work of art, if even just in this trailer.

But frankly, this is one of the best trailers I have ever seen, and I do not doubt the movie will be even better.

It is also a dose of fresh air to see a black director helming a biopic project, especially about a black man.

Try as a white counterpart might, they can not truly put themselves in the position to understand, nor should they be given the opportunity.

The energy in the trailer is tangible, and the story of Hampton needs retelling. We can’t wait to see what the beautiful people involved in this project come up with, because if the trailer is any indication, this film is going to be generational.

Inside Dudeism and the odd cult following of ‘The Big Lebowski’

The 1998 Coen brothers cult classic The Big Lebowski has grown larger than life over the years. Spawning conventions and even a religion, it has taken on a life that Ethan and Joel couldn’t have foreseen.

With comedies so rarely aging well, it speaks to its timelessness while being of the time. How did it get to be this way?

History of The Big Lebowski

It started after meeting producer Jeff Dowd, who referred to himself as “the dude.” He himself was a middle-aged burnout at the time. Joel and Ethan Coen had the idea to thrust his character into a complex situation he ultimately doesn’t care about.

Other inspirations for the character around The Dude who made it into the film were from the novels of Raymond Chandler. Chandler’s works often have loose plots that come secondary to the scene. This creates an episodic feel to the story, found in both cases.

Some didn’t know what to make of it. Upon release, The Big Lebowski made only $18 million. With a budget of $15 million, its $3 million profit margin was not seen as a huge success.

However, as time went by, word of mouth spread, and the quotes stuck around. Which brings us to today…

What is Dudeism?

Dudeism is as simple as just saying “fuck it.” Inspired by the simple yet happy life of El Duderino, it’s a religion that says “just take it easy, man.”

As The Church of the Latter-Day Dude‘s website puts it, “The beauty of Dudeism is its simplicity. Once a religion gets too complex, everything can go wrong.” Simply put, the core of it is just to live your own life, no need to worship anything or anyone.

That is to say, The Church of The Latter-Day Dude is not much of a religion at all, but a fascinating tribute. All the same, you can become an ordained minister via their site.

All cult classic movies have some form of big fan tribute, but only “The Big Lebowski” has spawned philosophy books about it. From Lebowski 101 by Oliver Benjamin to The Dude Testament, it’s a phenomenon like few others.

Why is Dudeism?

The devil-may-care attitude of The Dude resonates with a lot of people. He represents the side of us that just wants to do what we like without responsibilities.

Keep in mind, I’m not talking about casual fans of the movie. The Big Lebowski is in my top three all-time favorites. However, I’ve observed people from Gen X to Gen Z who may take the wrong things from it.

With a character so relatable, some have used the film as an excuse not to take care of responsibilities. Dudeism is about hedonism. Therefore, it gives the hedonists validation. However, it’s a harmless following. More obscure than anything.

So it resonates with people, but why the religious aspect to the fanbase? The beauty of cult classic movies is while they may not make much at the box office, their merch sales are usually solid, to say the least.

Where there is love for something, there’s someone trying to package that love and sell it to you. Because The Dude has the look and lifestyle of a modern-day Jesus, that may responsible for that angle of sale.

Sometimes there’s every time and place for a fanbase …

While the fanbase of the movie may be a little odd, it’s as big as it is because of how great it is. Every scene delivers laughs and quotable lines for days. The story is complex and meandering but entertaining the whole way through.

It’s a film like no other, and one you’ll never forget. The Dude abides.

Tony Soprano reminds us that even gangsters need therapy

This is a disclaimer: As a listicle, this article will be full of The Sopranos spoilers. If you haven’t yet seen the show that set the standard, the template, the absurdly high bar for all modern dramas, well, bugger off. Do yourself a favor and watch the show, then pull back up.

“You know my feelings. Every day is a gift. It’s just, does it have to be a pair of socks?” Tony Soprano asks Dr. Melfi in episode 9 of season 6 of The Sopranos.

This isn’t my favorite quote of the series, nor is it one of the most hard-hitting in its moment. What it is is an embodiment of Tony’s constant internal conflict throughout the show run.

Short-term happiness and desire to feel grateful, pride, joy. But always lingering is a dark cloud of sadness that washes him back ashore to reality.

James Gandolfini died seven years ago today, at the age of 51. In this article, we remember him for his beautiful work on The Sopranos, playing the rough-yet-resilient Tony Soprano.

Specifically, we will dive into Gandolfini’s work via Tony Soprano in therapy with Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), which produced some of the most emotional scenes in a show brimming over the top with them.

Mental health is on its way to fully being de-stigmatized. But still, there is work to do. The Sopranos, a late-90s titan and the pinnacle of TV cinema advanced the understanding of mental health and therapy, and for it, it deserves its praise.

Season 1: Anger and Deflection

Now let’s be clear. Tony does not stop screaming at Dr. Melfi after season 1, nor does he stop deflecting. But opening up, clearly for the first time in this magnitude, to someone angers Tony. And when the anger settles, it pains him. That pain leads him to dance around his true feelings and the bases of his sadness.

“I don’t appreciate feeling like I pour my fucking heart out to a fucking call girl,” Tony says after tossing money at the feet of Dr. Melfi.

She is angry with him for skipping one of their meetings, and he is angry because he believes (or is forcing himself to believe) she only cares about his money.

Melfi pleads for Tony to speak to her truthfully. Getting mob boss Tony Soprano to open up must have felt like breaking the walls of Sing Sing Prison.

But Tony’s deflection is not at all abnormal for a patient, especially one under the constant pressure of keeping his underlings in line, his rivals at bay, and his life in control.

This scene speaks to the early stages of The Sopranos, and largely, the early stages of seeing therapy beyond just a muse for upper-middle-class white people to pour their hearts out.

In 1999, when this episode aired, it was not a time where everyone would respect you for seeing a shrink. The Sopranos explains this reality beautifully.

Season 2: Opening up about his past

Season 1 was a bit of an experiment. An experiment like the final dish in Ratatouille. It could not have gone much fucking better.

But season 2 is really when the show found its stride and came into its own. Melfi and Tony’s dive down his past is emblematic of this.

While going deeper into the depths of Tony’s pain, the show goes deeper into why Tony’s family is the way it is, and why Tony’s other family (over at Satriales) operates the way it does.

“I got the world by the balls and I can’t help feeling like I’m a fucking loser,” says Tony.

Tony complains that all Americans “are crying and confessing and complaining, a bunch of fucking pussies.”

For some, and most in previous decades and generations, this is how opening up felt. You weren’t supposed to talk about your feelings. It made you weak.

A product of life being so tough it felt unhelpful? Possibly. A thought that opening up could only make it worse? Also possible.

Melfi responds to Tony that his parents made it impossible for him to feel joy. His mother, still alive, still doesn’t give Tony any love or appreciation.

It is by exploring the roots of his sadness that Tony starts to make some breakthroughs, albeit with cursing and violence and evil deeds along the way.

Tony is happy enough of the show, but only when he’s honest and willing to accept the truth is he at a prime level of peace. The Sopranos explored the honesty inside of therapy sessions beyond measure.

Season 3: Pain subsiding, pain rising

Season 3 is a fascinating season of The Sopranos. Often it is not anyone’s favorite, nor is it their least favorite. In the middle of production, Nancy Marchand, who played Tony’s mother, passed away. In one episode, they used a pixelated image of Marchand with old voice recordings of her speaking, to tie the character’s arc up. It didn’t work too well.

But Tony’s panic attacks, which were so often related to the stress and anxiety his mother would cause him, went away. It was like a ninth-grade backpack finally off his back at the end of the day, air entering the flap at the bottom of the shirt and giving you a feeling of sensation and peace.

But the physical being of his mother being gone did not erase the memory and deep-rooted genealogy of Tony’s mom. And expectedly, his panic attacks came back. In the clip above, with a touch of realness interspersed with comedy (which The Sopranos does better than any show), Carmela joins Tony in therapy, and explores possible root causes of his anxiety.

This is also the season that Dr. Melfi is raped, in a scene and moment of the show so grotesque that most fans aren’t able to rewatch. Melfi thinks about asking Tony to kill her attacker, but eventually decides against it. As their sessions grow and expand, so does their relationship. And the moments inside of that room present us with some of the best acting in television history.

Season 4: Sadness and dark brush strokes

“Still I gotta be the sad clown.”

Tony breaks down over the deaths and abandonment of animals in the series much more than he does over people. A typical sociopathic trait, Melfi mentions this to him and ponders what animals mean to him.

Season 4 is a turning point in the series. The show gets darker. It’s only at the halfway point, and there have been many threats and actions taken against Tony’s life up to this point, but there is an eeriness that begins in season four that feels like show creator David Chase is really trying to tell us: anyone and everything could be gone at any point.

Tony breaks down in much of this season, most of all to the death of his horse, Pie-O-My. He cries, he weeps, and right when things start to be on the upswing in his work and home-life, everything comes crashing down.

For Tony, every moment is a reminder of how short life is. But up until this point, it didn’t feel like Carmela would actually ever leave him, as he could really die at any given moment, like the world we have been immersed in for three years could truly come crashing down.

Tony’s mental health is at a different place too. Melfi has helped him immensely, even if he doesn’t see it. But slowly and surely, he is losing every person close to him, and this grim reality is what paints this season with a darker brushstroke than we have seen yet.

Season 5: War and revenge

Ah, dark and ominous tones in season 4 I mentioned. Well, season 5 blows it out of the water in that regard.

My favorite season, season 5 introduces a bunch of new characters, a lot of new violence, and as always, some delightfully important scenes in the therapy room.

In season 5, Tony opens up more about his father, and his cousin Tony B (played by Steve Buscemi). In exploring his father and his father’s mistress, Tony understands a lot of what made his father so miserable. And what makes him so miserable.

Real progress is made, and Tony goes through the ups and downs that most people who have been in therapy for years go through.

Progress, setbacks, breakthroughs, and lingering reminders that therapy can only do so much. It is up to the person themselves to make real changes and judgment calls in the real world.

The therapy scenes in season 5 give us some much-needed pauses from the violence and power plays the season is filled with. Still, these scenes aren’t light. And it is clear the end times are nigh.

Season 6: End times

Season 6 was split up into two half-seasons, 8 episodes each. Throughout, Tony talks to Melfi and the tensions with New York ebb and flow.

In addition to the above scene, with Tony feeling a sense of bleakness in his progress in therapy, there is the final scene between Tony and Melfi that we must touch on.

Melfi’s academically-inclined friends tell her about a study that showed therapy doesn’t help sociopaths become better people; it just helps them become better criminals.

She sits with this idea. For 6 long seasons (and even more years in the show universe), has she been helping Tony manage his stress so that he can be more morally sound?

Or so that he can justify his actions and be just as wicked and ruthless just without smacking his head on the concrete after a swarm of vertigo.

Eventually, Melfi decides on the latter. She can’t help Tony anymore, or more aptly, she won’t.

With Melfi’s abandonment, Tony’s last person that holds him accountable, that pushes him to be better and speaks to him honestly, is gone. It is a sad scene and masterfully executed by two actors that established chemistry unmatched by much of TV since.

Largely because of the therapy scenes between Melfi and Tony, therapy became more accepted and openly-discussed in homes and workplaces than ever before.

Rest In Peace James, we will never forget you.