January 23, 2020

Aries 

MAR 21 - APR 19 

Secret support from your lover may somehow advance your career this week. It's possible that your sweetheart will do something under the radar that really makes you shine professionally. He or she may anonymously promote your work or connect you to someone who can help elevate your reputation. You'll feel so loved by this person and really amazed once you discover what has been going on behind the scenes. If you're single, after Friday you may want to create a profile on the latest dating app or consider attending meetup groups in your area. A New Moon in your social 11th House of Networking can easily bring a connection your way.

  

Taurus 

APR 20 - MAY 20 

You may want to broadcast your love for someone in a very public way this week. For some of you, it'll be as simple as changing your relationship status on Facebook from "single" to "in a relationship." For others, it may be time to introduce your new sweetheart to your friends in order to get their opinion. Happily, it looks like everyone who is important to you socially will give a big thumbs up to the new love of your life. If you're single, a friend may offer to set you up with someone he or she believes you share the very same values with. Accept!

 

Gemini 

MAY 21 - JUN 20 

Your sweetheart may be your greatest cheerleader this week, proving to you that sometimes all you really need is love. He or she may pump you up and make you realize that you are extremely talented and more than capable of reaching the career aspirations you've set for yourself. As a result, you may find yourself applying for a promotion or considering launching your own business. Aim high and believe everything your lover is telling you. He or she is right!

  

Cancer 

JUN 21 - JUL 22 

If you're in a relationship, then you and your partner have a fresh start this week when it comes to intimacy. A New Moon in Aquarius lights up the most erotic part of your chart this Friday, which signals to you and your mate that it's time to try something new together. Whether it's a sex toy, tantric practices, or role playing doesn't matter. The point is, you and your lover want to do something different in the bedroom and the universe is supporting it. Have fun!

 

Leo 

JUL 23 - AUG 22 

A New Moon in your partnership sector on Friday is all you really need to stimulate love and relationship matters. If you're dating someone, then this might very well be the lunation that makes you want to finally become an exclusive item. If you're already in an established connection, then you and your mate are likely to feel like you have a fresh start in your relationship somehow. Your bond might become deeper or the two of you might start to plan for the future together in whatever way works for you as a couple.

 

Virgo 

AUG 23 - SEP 22 

You might feel as if you've won the lottery in love on Thursday. Venus and Jupiter will be at a gorgeous angle to each other, and both of these planets will be sitting pretty in the most romantic and relationship-oriented houses of your chart. That means love is most definitely in the air! If single, you could meet someone worth getting to know. If you're already with someone, then your sweetheart may surprise you with a beautiful gift or more significant gesture of his or her affection. You'll feel completely adored!

 

Libra 

SEP 23 - OCT 22 

A New Moon in your romance sector on Friday can bring absolute enchantment to matters of the heart! You could find your one true love thanks to this lunation and, if you do, this person will be unlike anyone you've ever met before. Another possibility is that he or she has a physical appearance that you normally wouldn't characterize as your type. Maybe you usually vibe with tall, blonde, tattooed and pierced lovers but now you find yourself madly attracted to a person with red hair, freckles, and no tattoos. Either way, you'll be captivated by him or her. Yum!

 

Scorpio 

OCT 23 - NOV 21 

Positive thinking can create the outcome you desire in love thanks to Jupiter, currently moving through your communication sector. This is the "glass half full" mentality at its finest and you've got it in spades now. So, how does this connect to your love life? On Thursday, Jupiter will be at a perfect angle to Venus, now in your romance sector. The positive thoughts of growth, success, and love that you have are very likely to land you in a physical reality with someone that absolutely supports this. Coming from a place of "yes" will definitely be rewarding.

 

Sagittarius 

NOV 22 - DEC 21 

If you have been hoping for a miracle when it comes to a domestic matter that connects to your love life, then this week, that wish can be granted. Perhaps you and your sweetheart have been searching for a home to purchase together. If so, this is the week you'll hit the jackpot. Another possibility is that you have been spending a lot of time and money on a renovation. Now, you'll be able to enjoy the result with your love. Single? This will be that rare and magical week when you don't even need to go out to find someone. That person just might be in your own backyard.

  

Capricorn 

DEC 22 - JAN 19 

There might be a very auspicious conversation this week between you and your sweetheart that makes you both smile. You may decide to do something together that you've always wanted to do and, even if it feels a little risky, you both somehow know that you'll land on your feet. Another possibility is that you are making a significant decision about your love life this week. It might be time to tell someone how you really feel and just be willing to see what transpires after that. Go ahead, wear your heart on your sleeve. You won't regret it.

  

Aquarius 

JAN 20 - FEB 18 

A New Moon in your sign basically means the possibilities are endless. What do you want to manifest during your personal fresh start lunation? This Friday, it's your time to make your wishes known to the universe because guess what: the universe is ready to comply! When it comes to relationships, it's on. You've got extraordinary prospects now to create the visionary connection with someone you've always wanted to. If you're already in a partnership, then the best way you can honor it is by remaining true to yourself.

  

Pisces 

FEB 19 - MAR 20

With love planet Venus in your sign, you already feel like a million bucks -- and you most certainly look it! This week, Venus will make a supportive link to expansive Jupiter in your 11th House of Friends and Groups. This creates an absolute growth spurt when it comes to the way your friends will want to shower you with help, support, and love. If you're single, make it your business to attend any and all social gatherings you're invited to this week. You're sure to be noticed! In fact, a cautious friend who has loved you from afar might be ready to express this to you. You'll be open.

Category: Arts & Culture

January 16, 2020 

By Angela Charlton 

Associated Press 

 

American director Spike Lee will lead the jury of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the first black person to hold the post in the event’s 73-year history.

 

Festival organizers hope Lee will “shake things up” among the world’s cinema elite at the festival which runs May 12-23. And anti-racism campaigners hope Lee’s appointment wakes up the French cultural world to persistent discrimination and the damaging stereotypes it perpetuates.

 

Lee said he was “honored to be the first person of the African diaspora” chosen for the prestigious position.

 

 

Festival organizer Thierry Fremaux said Lee is the first black president of any major film festival, calling the decision a “message of universality.” Speaking on France’s RTL radio, Fremaux said it wasn’t a political decision, but noted that black artists are underrepresented in the cinema world.

 

Many of Lee’s films have been shown at Cannes, and his “BlacKkKlansman” won a major prize at Cannes two years ago. This year’s festival runs May 12-23, and the rest of the jury members will be announced in April.

 

“When I got the call ... I was shocked, happy, surprised and proud all at the same time,” Lee said in a letter. He said Cannes “changed the trajectory of who I became in world cinema.”

 

Several of Lee’s films first screened at Cannes, including “Do the Right Thing” in 1989.

 

Without explicitly mentioning Lee’s career-long fight against racism or other political views, the festival said Lee’s “perspective is more valuable than ever” and that “Cannes is a natural homeland and a global sounding board for those who (re)awaken minds and question our stances and fixed ideas.”

 

Ladj Ly, whose film “Les Miserables” echoes some of Lee’s work and tackles tensions between police and minorities in a poor Paris suburb, hailed the move by festival organizers. “Les Miserables” screened at Cannes last year and won an Oscar nomination Monday for best international film.

 

The honorary president of French black rights group CRAN also welcomed the appointment of a filmmaker who confronts viewers and powers-that-be with strong opinions about discrimination and police violence.

 

“The arts world considers itself above questions of discrimination,” Louis-Georges Tin told The Associated Press. “But the #MeToo campaign showed that sexism is all too present in the arts world. And racism is too.”

 

Tin expressed hope that Lee’s role in Cannes could prompt the French cinema world to take a hard look at how it treats minorities and France’s own colonial history. In French cinema, he said, “it’s always the blacks who make you laugh and Arabs who scare you.”

 

Last year’s Cannes jury president was Mexican director Alejandro Iñárritu, and the festival’s top prize went to Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” who was nominated this week for best international film at the Oscars.

Category: Arts & Culture

January 16, 2020 

By Dwight Brow 

NNPA News Wire Film Critic 

 

They first teamed up for “Bad Boys” in 1995, to great box office success. There was an encore in 2003, “Bad Boys II,” which was distinguished by incredible stunts. Now, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence go back to the same well one more time. Is there any water left?

 

Michael Bay (“Transformers,” “Armageddon”) directed the first two films, with an over-the-top, over-produced style that seems dated by today’s standards. The smartest choice franchise producer Jerry Bruckheimer made was to hire two new young directors to guide the series into the 2020s. Moroccan-born Belgian filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (“Black, Gangsta”) put their own spin on the footage aided by cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert (“Black, Gangsta”). What’s on view looks like an ultra-hip extended music video that captures your eyeballs and takes them hostage.

 

A sporty looking, deep blue 992-Generation Porsche speeds through the streets of sunny Miami. If a reckless twentysomething was behind the wheel, you’d call the car a chick magnet. Instead it’s 51-year-old Detective Mike Lowrey (Smith) steering the vehicle with his lead foot on the accelerator. In his hands the sports car is more a middle-ager’s last grasp at youth. Lowrey’s  54-year-old partner Detective Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) sits petrified in the passenger seat, holding on for dear life and nauseated by the hyper-dangerous ride.

 

Burnett: “I’m about to throw up.” Lowrey: “You better not. That’s hand-stitched Italian leather. You better drink that s—t!” And so, it begins. Edge of your seat action scenes, perfectly shot. Thrills and chills. Two old friends: One, a swinger, clearly still in the game. The other, a family man a whisper away from retirement with an accountant’s nervous stomach and no love left for a cop’s perilous life.

 

According to the blueprint drawn by screenwriters Chris Bremner, Peter Craig (“The Town”) and Joe Carnahan (“Narc,” TV’s “The Blacklist”), this is how the film will play out: A plot involving revenge from a former Mexican assailant Isabel Aretas (Kate del Castillo, “All About Nina”) and her minion (Jacob Scipio, “Hunter Killer”) evolves. Assassinations of lawyers and judges rain down on Miami like a summer storm.

 

A new police unit named AMMO takes charge of the investigation, headed by a tough captain named Rita (Paola Nuñez, TV’s “The Purge”) and her elite group: tech wizard Dorn (Alexander Ludwig, “The Hunger Games”), weapons expert Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens, “Spring Breakers”) and the very sarcastic Rafe (“Charles Melton,” TV’s “Riverdale”). Can they do the job? Will Mike and Marcus hurt or help them?

 

Subtly and brazenly, in humor and family drama, the script rips into the ages of the two protagonists like someone pouring salt on an open wound. The “boys” have lost a few steps and added gray hairs industrial strength Grecian Formula can’t fix. The contrasts between the veterans and the new justice league gets played for laughs persistently, especially between Smith and Melton.

 

Though the script is solid in most aspects, its dialogue, its rapid-fire banter is its strongest asset. When Smith and Lawrence exchange verbal jabs nothing is off the table. Viagra, becoming a grandparent, the last time either one had sex... The two are extremely competitive and well aware that father time could beat them in a foot race.

 

Equally strong is the chemistry between the two leads. Twenty-five years later, their bromance is as fresh as the day they met. Smith, as the mercurial, perpetual bachelor exhibits his best swagger in years. His Mike is like an old club goer who hasn’t realized the crowd around him is young enough to be his children. Lawrence’s curmudgeon and sensitive character plays perfectly against Smith’s brash attitude. He’s hysterical in ways only true comedians can be. The characters’ bond is easy to like and has been cherished by filmgoers who will likely follow them into old age even as these bad boys start to solve crimes in nursing homes.

 

Every member of the cast shines brightly: Joe Pantoliano as the very manic Captain Howard; Kate del Castillo is so evil she would make a witch blush. As Aretas, she sneers: “A bullet is mercy for that son of a bitch.” Paola Nunez makes Rita brave and sensual. A very fluid cameo performance by DJ Khaled, as a smarmy crook, should win him more roles. Jacob Scipio as the evil, coldblooded assassin puts his stamp on this movie. Theresa Randle, Nicky Jam, Massi Furlan, José Alfredo Fernandez and John West Jr. fill out the ensemble. 

 

So, what’s the flaw? The finale looks too artificial: The camera focuses on an empty building, the lens targets two rats. The rodents are so clean and white they look like they came from central casting with personal hairdressers and makeup artists. The building is entirely too majestic (production designer Jon Billington, set decoration Lori Mazuer and Daniela Rojas), like an opera set not an abandoned facility. The sequence seems phony—almost corny.

 

This final battle is saved by the quick edits (Dan Lebental and Petr McNulty), which have given the entire 2H 3M film a very modern, tight and forceful rhythm. The musical score by Lorne Balfe, with brazen horns during action scenes and soft violins during drama, also helps to counteract this imperfection.

 

Crime/action/thriller fans will be in their glory with this orgy of violence, blue language, sexy flirtations and good versus evil battles. It’s fun. There’s a strong verve that is completely contagious and will likely help this sequel achieve record-breaking box-office success.

 

“Bad Boys for Life” is all it needs to be. And then some! Get ready for it. “What you gonna do when it comes for you?”

 

Visit NNPA News Wire Film Critic Dwight Brown at DwightBrownInk.com and BlackPressUSA.com.

Category: Arts & Culture

January 16, 2020 

By Beth Harris 

Associated Press 

 

Issa Rae’s quick comment after five men were announced as Oscar nominees for best director was spur of the moment, but for many captured the lack of diversity among this year’s nominees.

 

“We were told to banter for five seconds as the teleprompter loaded, so that was my banter,” Rae told a TV critics meeting Wednesday. “I didn’t lie. I said congratulations.”

 

“Congratulations to those men,” Rae said dryly after the director category was revealed Monday. Greta Gerwig, who oversaw the acclaimed “Little Women,” was among the women directors who were shut out.

 

“I just think it’s unfortunate. The academy needs to do better,” Rae said. “I’m kind of tired of having the same conversation. Every year it’s something. For me it’s just pointing out when I see it. I don’t want to get too worked up about it. It’s annoying.”

 

Cynthia Erivo of “Harriet” was the only person of color among the 20 acting nominees. Rae presented this year’s Oscar nominations along with fellow actor John Cho.

 

Rae is working on the upcoming fourth season of her HBO comedy “Insecure,” which she created, stars, writes and executive produces.

 

The Oscars will be presented Feb. 9 in Los Angeles and aired live on ABC.

Category: Arts & Culture

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