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Start 2018 off right and get your goals set with your 2018 cheat sheet!

It’s 2018! For many of us, that means fresh starts. It certainly means that for me.

I’m sure you can relate to this, but 2017 was a serious challenge for me. Without a doubt, it was one of the toughest years of my life. Granted, when life gives you challenges, it’s only meant for you to grow. But you can’t deny how hard it is to learn those lessons and deal with the awful packages some of those lessons tend to come in.

If you’re like me and you’re glad you’ve made it out of the fire, congratulations! You’ve endured some tough stuff, which means you’re much stronger than you’ve probably given yourself credit for. You’ve learned some hard life lessons, dealt with unforeseen drama, and found more of yourself in the process. Now that we’re out of the forge of 2017 all brand new, let’s keep 2018 going in the right direction by mapping out exactly how you want your 2018 to go down.

It’s definitely important to keep your goals and life lessons handy because if you forget (and you will), you can easily find and review them to keep yourself on the right path. What I’ve done is make myself a laptop wallpaper that doubles as my 2018 goals checklist. My plan is to update this checklist throughout the year, so throughout the year, my wallpaper will have new goals added or old goals scratched off. (If you’d like to make your own, Canva already has a wallpaper-sized template with several layouts you can choose from, or you can use the blank template and make your own theme from scratch.)

If you don’t want to make a wallpaper or can access your thoughts better in journal form, I’ve made this short 2018 cheat sheet PDF. You can print out the pages and stick them in your notebook, journal, binder, pin them to your wall, or do whatever you need to with them to remind yourself of what you’re working towards and what you’d like to avoid. Click the image to download.

Just as a disclaimer–I’m not a psychologist or therapist. I’m just someone who has learned a lot in 2017 and felt a document like this one will help others jumpstart getting their lives in order for 2018. I’m gonna use this myself, since 2017 wouldn’t quit, even down its last hours.

2018 is a year I hope we can all look to as a time to get out from under our personal rubble and start anew. It’s time to get rid of bad habits, shake off bad influences and prepare ourselves for awesome lives ahead.

What are some of your goals for 2018? Share if you feel so inclined in the comments section below!

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Get to know Frank Waln, the Lakota rapper-activist changing hip-hop

If you don’t know Frank Waln, you need to know him. The Sicangu Lakota rapper and activist has given voice to the voiceless and educated fans with his timely, moving, and politically sharp lyrics. He’s also put his words to power by working with The Dream Defenders in Palestine, fought against the Keystone XL pipeline, and regularly promotes his activism through his Twitter account. Understand Waln better by reading his own words about his music, his politics, and his message to fans old and new.

On his latest EP, The Bridge:

“The world is hungry for Indigenous voices and stories right now. This album [The Bridge], like all Indgenous art, holds centuries of Indigenous stories, personal and universal. I made this project for myself and other Indigenous people like me who need honesty, vulnerability and healing in their lives.”

On the historical background of his song, “Treaties”:

“As an Indigenous producer and songwriter, center the voices of Indigenous elders in a song is a great way to show my audience who I learn from, and to share knowledge directly from the source. Thhis song is as relevant now as it was hundreds of years ago, when the U.S. government was breaking its treaty rights. It’s happening right now with the Dakota Access and Keystone Pipelines being built onto treaty land.

How can the United States call itself the greatest country in the world when it won’t even honor the treaties that founded this country? I hope this song spurs every American citizen who hears it, Indigenous or not, to pressure our government to follow its own laws and honor its treaties. This song is about justice.”

The song that started his hip-hop journey:

“…[W]hen I was seven or eight, I fell in love with playing piano. I started teaching myself how to play keys. So, I would say, my dedication to music started at the piano when I was seven or eight. Eminem was my introduction to hip-hop. But then, when I heard the Nas song “One Mic” that’s when I decided I wanted to be a rapper. That’s really when I devoted myself to hip-hop.”

On hip-hop’s resonance with Native Americans:

“Hip-hop resonates with a lot of people of my generation, whether they be in a city or on a reservation. I was thinking about this a lot lately. When I was growing up, the representations of Natives that we saw on TV were nothing like what we were living. Nothing like our reality. It was always, like, these savage Indians of the past. Very stereotypical. The media we saw, the artwork that we saw, the images in mainstream media that we related to the most, were hip-hop. Those artists were telling stories that definitely related to things we were going through, and are going through on the reservation.”

Describing his activism:

“What I’m doing – the ideology and worldview that I’m using to approach what I do – is older than the word and concept of an “activist.” I’m just Lakota. That’s why I care about my people. That’s why I care about the earth. That’s why I care about the water. That’s why I care about my community. That’s why I care about people around me. That’s why I devote my gift of music and why I use my platform to protect those things. Because I am Lakota. That’s how I was raised by mother, and my aunties, and my community. That’s what I’m taught in my culture and in my ceremonies. A lot of time Native people get pinned as activists, but really we’re just being Native. I’m just living my life, and trying to live my life in a way that my ancestors and elders and my parents and my culture raised me.”

Listen to The Bridge and “Treaties” on Soundcloud or just scroll below. You can download both from Waln’s Bandcamp page. 

Quotes taken from Waln’s interviews with RPM.fm (1,2) and Playboy. 

What Mexican and American critics are saying about Disney/Pixar’s groundbreaking film “Coco”

Coco has premiered to great fanfare at the Morelia International Film Festival in Mexico, and so far, the buzz is positive! Hearing about good buzz is different than actually reading it, so here are seven reviews from both American and Mexican critics, all of which have something positive to say about the film that finally breaks through Pixar’s color and non-Western cultural barrier.

“A walk among the Mexicans”

The general impression is one of admiration and even respect [;].although it does not give us one of the biggest Pixar movies, at least it gives the world the possibility of dreaming of a walk among the Mexicans.—Alonso Díaz de la Vega, El Universal [translation]

Disney/Pixar

Coco [points] toward a less-homogenized…future”

“There’s no getting around that Disney/Pixar hope “Coco” absolves them of past ethnic-representation sins in forging popular movie fare. But the honest feeling coursing through “Coco” is its own marigold bridge in a way, pointing toward a less-homogenized, but no less universal-in-theme future for creators of animated movies.”–Robert Abele, The Wrap

Disney/Pixar

“[Coco speaks] of a real knowledge of the world that it wants to portray.”

“[T]here is a series of data, winks, images, phrases and faces that speak of a real knowledge of the world that it wants to portray, fruit undoubtedly of a deep investigation and without hurries. Coco gets it not without stumbling, but with a kindness that will leave you open-mouthed more than once.”–Erick Estrada, CineGarage [translation]

Disney/Pixar

“[Coco is] free of the watering down or whitewashing [in] Americanized appropriations.”

“Delivering a universal message about family bonds while adhering to folkloric traditions free of the watering down or whitewashing that have often typified Americanized appropriations of cultural heritage, the gorgeous production also boasts vibrant visuals and a peerless voice cast populated almost entirely by Mexican and Latino actors.”–Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter

Disney/Pixar

“Unkrich and his team [demonstrate] an essential understanding of the Mexican tradition.”

“Unkrich and his team avoid reductionism by demonstrating an essential understanding of the Mexican tradition through a respectful and caring approach, and seeking the opportune moment to pay tribute to iconic Mexican cultural icons such as El Santo, Frida Kahlo, Cantinflas, Pedro Infante and, Of course, José Guadalupe Posada, whose engravings immortalized the figure of La Catrina. Although the film abuses the somewhat naive and childish physical gags – almost all linked to the ease with which the dead manipulate or lose their own bones – Coco is a film about the celebration of the family, the importance of memories and the connection through the generations[.]–Luis Fernando Galván, En Filme [translation, links added]

Disney/Pixar

“Unkrich…embraces and incorporates the customs and folklore of Día de Muertos into the very fabric of the film.”

“For Mexican audiences — or those who live in California, Texas, or any place with a visible Latino presence — the cultural iconography of the Land of the Dead ought to look quite familiar, as Unkrich (who previously oversaw “Toy Story 3”) embraces and incorporates the customs and folklore of Día de Muertos into the very fabric of the film.”–Peter Debruge, Variety

Disney/Pixar

“The most risky Pixar film and, therefore, the most fruitful.”

“One thing is for sure: the creators of Coco did the homework.The various research trips they made to the country are evident in what could be the most risky Pixar film and, therefore, the most fruitful and even hopeful[.]”–Jessica Oliva, Cine Premiere [translation]

Coco comes to theaters Nov. 22.

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2 reasons why you’re right about Valkyrie’s bi-visibility

It’s official–he MCU finally has a confirmed LGBT character! According to Tessa Thompson (in response to someone else who was being antagonistic), her Thor: Ragnarok character Valkyrie is bisexual, just like how she is in the comic books.

She later tweeted this clarification.

When the news broke, the internet was decidedly of two camps–one who felt Thompson’s admission was proof of Marvel (aka Disney) finally giving much-needed bisexual representation, and the other, who felt like it was still Marvel/Disney trying to have their cake and eat it too.

Guess what? Both camps are right. Here’s why.

1. Yes, it is a step in the right direction

Even though an actor admitting that her character is still canonically bi shouldn’t be that big of a deal (i.e. when Ryan Reynolds said Deadpool was still going to be bi in his film adaptations), for a place as faux-liberal as Disney, it’s a very big deal. This is coming from a company that has created their Marvel franchise into a world of toxic and fragile masculinity, where even crying gets seen as a girly thing to do. 

Even though fans have long had their speculations about certain characters, this is the first time anyone from the MCU has finally gone on record as saying their character is part of the LGBT spectrum. For many fans, this will mean they can finally, canonically claim someone as a positive representation. They’ll be able to go see Thor: Ragnarok and feel happy that finally there’s someone like them on screen.  Also, for some, the fact that her sexuality isn’t expressed could be a positive; the ultimate goal for LGBT characters is for their sexuality to be treated like a non-issue; for some viewers, having it as a “non-issue” means that it’s not used as Valkyrie’s defining quality.

However:

2. Valkyrie’s bisexuality not being physically represented could be a problem.

Comic book writer Gail Simone tweeted this sentiment, and I don’t think she’s alone.

For as many people who are happy just to her that Valkyrie is still bisexual in the films, there are just as many who will feel like Disney hasn’t gone far enough. It’s one thing to have an actor say that their character is still canon-compliant as far as their sexual orientation goes; it’s another to actually have that character express that orientation on screen. If it’s not a big deal, then why can’t she be seen with a girlfriend or a boyfriend?

To be fair, Thompson implied to a Twitter follower that a blonde valkyrie seen with her character is, in fact, our Valkyrie’s girlfriend, but the implication is made with a winking emoji, not words. To use Simone’s words, it’s still an implication, not an outright fact.

What can we take from this?

To look at this thing from a macro view, Disney is a company that has many branches that don’t often work together. For instance, the Disney Channel is making its own network history by having its first openly gay storyline in its popular show Andi Mack. And earlier this year, Disney Junior showcased its first lesbian couple on the massively popular Doc McStuffins. ABC routinely focuses on LGBT storylines through How to Get Away with MurderGrey’s Anatomy, Fresh Off the Boat, black-ish, When We Rise and The Real O’Neals (recently cancelled).

Disney proper has also dabbled with gay representation, to clumsy effect, in Beauty and the Beast (it’s the thought that counts, but still, it wasn’t as groundbreaking as it was made out to be, and it was made worse by Josh Gad severely backtracking for no reason). But while its offshoots have a much more nimble time delving into LGBT-friendly storylines, Disney itself has trouble, as evidenced by that Beauty and the Beast scenario and the severe lack of storylines in Lucasfilm and Marvel movies. Maybe Valkyrie is the first true step for LGBT representation in Marvel films. If that’s the case, then maybe their next foray will be less timid and more boisterous.

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6 times YouTuber Thou Art Anuli Won Halloween cosplay with Black Girl Magic

Halloween is here, but you might as well go home, since YouTube creator Anuli of Thou Art Anuli has already won it.

This creative DIY-er has sprinkled #BlackGirlMagic all over your favorite cartoon characters and has presented her audience with amazing cosplay costumes. If you want to get your Halloween started right, check out some of her outstanding costumes below.

1. Doug, Skeeter, Patti Mayonnaise, and Roger from Doug

What’s great about these costumes is how instantly recognizable they are. There’s no mistaking any of these costumes as being anything other than Doug, Skeeter, and co. But they’re also glammed-up versions of these characters as well, making them even more larger than life. They’re also pretty easy to make, which is great if you don’t have a big budget. All you need is a little imagination and some DIY ingenuity.

2. Sailor Moon

Anuli’s version of Sailor Moon picks up on the purple hair trend that’s been seen so often in black Sailor Moon recreations, such as AisleyBarbie’s fanart. But what Anuli does to make her version different is pick up on the “dumplings” in Usagi’s original hairstyle and repeat them throughout each ponytail. Also, Anuli used ombre hair, which makes this Usagi’s hair even more magical and fantastical.

3. The crying nun from American Horror Story

What’s great about this costume is that it’s surprisingly easy to pull off and highly effective. The nun’s habit is actually a T-shirt! Probably the most expensive thing are the scelera lenses. This look proves you can be absolutely horrifying on a budget.

4. The Powerpuff Girls

In this rendition of the Powerpuff Girls, Anuli rebranded them as “The Afropuff Girls,” giving blackness and black beauty a front-row seat. Again, the costumes and hair are all instantly recognizable as “Powerpuff,” but the new take gives it modernity and edgy style.

5. The Gross Sisters from The Proud Family

This might be the most glam version of the Gross Sisters I’ve ever seen. Anuli’s versions of these characters are also classic ’90s, complete with baby hair, bandanas, and gold hoops. Of course, the characters dress like this in the show, but the way Anuli has given them a grown-up edge, it looks like they’re ready for their close-up in Dead Presidents or Set It Off.

6. Goku (or Gohan) from Dragonball Z

Yes, you can make a Saiyan femme, and Anuli has given girls and femme-presenting anime lovers a cool way to rep your Saiyan pride while also keeping it cute and stylish. Instead of wearing pants, she’s wearing a tank top dress, which brings this look to a much more modern and fresh place.

There are plenty more cosplay and DIY videos at Anuli’s YouTube page (including an amazing Lil Kim look)! You can also follow her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Happy Pantone Spring 2018 colors get creepy in “Annihilation” teaser trailer

The teaser trailer for the 2018 sci-fi thriller Annihilation has made its mark, hyping up Tessa Thompson and Gina Rodriguez fans even more than they have been ever since the first pictures of the two in character came out earlier this year.

I have to say, Natalie Portman looks quite dead in this trailer, and I’m sure that’s by design, but it’s also unnerving. Portman’s dead face isn’t what this article is about, though. This article, is in fact, a color theory article. Did you know that Annihilation does have something in common with some of the Pantone Spring 2018 colors? And why does that matter to you? Because these colors are responsible for that uneasy feeling you had while watching some of these scenes!

Let’s take a look at this moodboard of the planet our lady explorers are visiting, Area X.

You’ll notice that throughout this set of photos, particularly the second and fourth ones, there are muted pink, purple, light blue, teal, and dark blue tones. These colors set the tone for most of the trailer, and it would seem they set the tone for most of the film.

In Annihilation, these colors are beautiful, yet clearly ominous. However, in another application, these colors are actually happy tones.

Six of Pantone’s Spring 2018 colors feature many of these exact colors, but in their vibrant, normal applications. These in particular are colors that play right into Annihilation‘s color scheme.

Reading the descriptions of these colors, you can see several key words–“soft,” “romantic,” “soothing,” “quiescence,” “subtly alluring,” “distinctive,” “complex,” “reassures,” “bold,” “fascinates,” and “intrigues.” These descriptions convey a feeling of contemplation, mystery, and beauty. As an aside, these colors also showcase a hint of nostalgia–the description of Arcadia, for instance, states the color is “hinting at retro yet at the same time modern.” These colors were probably their most popular during the ’80s and early ’90s, when everything was Miami Vice and Art Deco. For so many of us in our adulthood now, that was the time of our childhoods. It’s interesting that this colorful thread of nostalgia finds its way into Annihilation.

It’s not clear if nostalgia will play a part into the film, if at all–it seems like some of the scenes with Oscar Isaac are flashbacks to the “adventure,” if you will, that landed him in the hospital–but what is clear is that the soothing, soft, alluring, and even romantic qualities of these Pantone colors are being turned on their heads and used in their most disturbing forms.

Ars Technica’s tech culture editor Annalee Newitz gave a succinct and accurate description of the look of the Annihilation trailer:

“Somehow, director Alex Garland (Ex Machina) has evoked that same sense of dreamy, horrifying awe [from Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach novel trilogy], in the first trailer for the film…[W]e see the bizarre features of Area X seething around her as if the entire ecosystem is somehow haunted.”

In essence, the Pantone colors featured in Annihilation work exactly as they’re supposed to work–they titillate the senses, they weirdly reassure by alluring you into believing you’re seeing something dazzling. They are, as Newitz wrote, dreamy colors, befitting the psychological horrorscape that the original novel immerses the reader in. However, that alluring quality is just a setup–the entire planet is a trap, and the way these colors show up–in the mysterious plants, the dusky sky, and most especially in that filmy excretion-like stuff–make it clear that the planet is using these colors, much like a Venus flytrap, as the sweet nectar that baits its next victims.

Take a look at some more moodboards from the Annihilation trailer, which, of course, includes many of the Pantone colors listed here and at Pantone.

Orange and yellow are big themes for many 2018 films, which I’ve discussed at my 2018 film forecast article.

There’s a lot of atmospheric stuff going on in this trailer. Overall, this planet looks like the last place you want to be.

Annihilation comes out February 23, 2018.

New short film “Underneath the Grey” features love without boundaries

 

A couple of weeks ago, I posted quite a bit online about interracial relationships featuring black women and Asian men.  Even with the popularity of the Twitter conversation, I was still surprised when I was sent an opportunity to watch a new short film featuring a black-Asian couple!

Underneath the Grey, directed by Patrick Chen and starring Michael Rosete and Tia DeShazor, is a short film that has received tons of love from film festivals including the San Francisco Black Film Festival, the Denton Black Film Fest and the Urban Mediamaker Film Fest. Underneath the Grey has also been accepted to Asians on Film and the Queens World Film Fest.

Rosete and DeShazor in Underneath the Grey

I was able to watch the short film and I can tell you that once it’s out to the public, you’ll love it. As the two leads, Rosete and DeShazor have amazing chemistry and you instantly root for their characters’ relationship to work. While Rosete himself isn’t blind, he does play his character Ethan as a well-rounded character, not a one-dimensional caricature whose characterization is exclusively about his blindness. DeShazor’s Jessica exhibits the inner battle that plagues many who are trying to make it in the arts –is a person’s “worth” about their inner selves or their bank account? At one point in the film, Jessica feels Ethan won’t want her around because she’s gotten laid off from her job. But Ethan makes it clear to her that it doesn’t matter how much money she has–it was her soul that he fell in love with, not material possessions.  Overall, at the heart of the film is love, heart, and the message that time waits for no one, so make sure to share your life with people you hold dear. (A spoiler you’ll be happy to know: Ethan and Jessica do spend their lives together, as evidenced by their talk about getting their first grey hairs.)

So how’d this short film come about? I emailed Chen to learn more about the genesis of the film. He wrote that the inspiration came to him while he was learning more about film color grading and “wanted to create a black and white picture with a blind person as the main protagonist,” exploring how a person with blindness adapted their senses and imagination to a world catered towards those with sight.

“The opportunity presented itself with my involvement with Asian American Film Lab’s annual competition,” wrote Chen. “It challenges filmmakers to produce a five-minute film with a designated theme spanning three days.”

The resulting film changed from the original black and white idea, but the focus on a man who has lost his sight and his adaptation to his new life remained a core feature and, even better, a romance between him and an aspiring Broadway star was added, giving the film a driving storytelling force.

“I gathered up my research and team with the confidence of producing this unique perspective of a blind (Asian) man falling with a (Black) woman,” wrote Chen. “I wanted to have a diverse cast and a story that doesn’t focus on the separation of race, religion or gender; and in this scenario, being handicapped. I wanted the world to see that we are not just one color but also a beautiful blend of lives.”

Underneath The Grey is the discovery of inner beauty through self-acceptance. The challenge was not only producing quality work in 72 hours but to also have characters that felt lifelike and inseparable,” he wrote. “With the support from EnMaze Pictures and the opportunity given by the Asian Americans Film Lab, the production was given form. The 5-minute version was given praises by an audience of different ethnic groups. With this encouragement, I expanded the film to 15 mins with a small backstory and additional scenes of the characters’ relationship. I feel this story is now completed to further serve the audience’s fulfillment of these two wonderful characters.”

Thanks to Chen, I was able to ask Rosete and DeShazor some questions about their characters. I also asked Chen some questions via email about his directorial process.

What was it like to be a part of this short film?

Rosete: Patrick, Shannon, Tia, Joe, everyone involved was so professional, so easy to get along with, and open to each other’s opinions. It felt like a bunch of friends getting together to tell a story, a truly collaborative effort. There was a lot of support for each other, and a vibe that we were all there because this is what we love to do.

DeShazor: Being a part of this film was very exciting.  We definitely had some fun times on set. I don’t know if Patrick told you that  there was an original version that was shot in 24 hours.  That was a crazy, but everyone was completely committed to telling a beautiful story.  Patrick and his team are incredible to work with, so I enjoyed every moment of the process.

Rosete and DeShazor in Underneath the Grey

How did you get into character? Particularly, how did y’all develop the chemistry between your two characters (because it seemed like there was a genuine connection/friendship between y’all off-screen).

Rosete: Tia is such an open, loving and kind person; she was able to let those qualities shine through on this project, which made it very easy to connect with her. We spent a little bit of time before shooting and in between takes getting to know one another like you would in any job; I would find qualities in her that I could connect with. We both knew with this story that if there was no chemistry, it wouldn’t work, so I think we were both mindful of that throughout the process.

DeShazor: Regarding chemistry with Michael, he is a very generous actor.  We were able to meet beforehand and we used our time off camera to get to know each other, and we have a lot in common.  We also both know what it is like to experience love, be vulnerable and open to it.  We are both married now (to other people), and I think having the understanding of what true commitment feels like informed our performances. Also,  Patrick created a very safe environment where we were able to feel comfortable in more intimate moments.

What kind of preparation/research did you do to portray Ethan’s blindness?

Rosete:  I had a very limited amount of time to prepare, so I called various centers for the blind to ask questions, read articles about what it is to be blind or visually impaired, watched clips of various blind people sharing their experiences online, watched movies that portrayed blind characters, and observed people on the street. Patrick also provided a walking cane, which I would spend hours on using at home and in the street to practice.

Rosete and Joe Chan in Underneath the Grey

This short film is about how love can transcend all the barriers people think can limit love, such as race, disability, career choices (i.e. when Jessica felt like Ethan wouldn’t want her staying at his place because she’d been let go from the bar). Why do you think this message is something we as an audience need to always be reminded of?

Rosete: I don’t think we set out to make a statement about the power of love so much as telling a story of this particular man and woman’s journey together. But anytime we as audience members can be reminded about love, and the power of it—in all of its forms—I’m all for it. Everyone, intentionally or not, has put up barriers out of fear of the unknown or what is not fully understood. I think it’s important not to “look past” whatever we think these “barriers” are, but to acknowledge them, be open as to why we even see them as “barriers,” learn about them, and eventually free ourselves from seeing them as “barriers” at all.

DeShazor: This story is so relevant today because we always need to be reminded that love transcends abilities, careers and ethnicity.  We hear that a lot, but there are still so many barriers that make it difficult to really live out.  We receive so many messages, whether we are aware of them or not, about love, status and stability that make us fearful to take chances.  And it is our nature to choose the safest route, protecting ourselves from the heartbreak of falling in love, from the failure that could come from following our callings or from the isolation and ridicule that could come from choosing to be with someone who is different.  We will always need to see people from different backgrounds taking these risks.

What do you think of the positive response to the film?

Rosete: I am thrilled by the positive response; we set out to tell a story that we thought would be interesting, and did the project out of love for what we do, so to see people react positively to what we made is a great feeling.

DeShazor: Having made this film so long ago, I can honestly say that it is the gift that keeps on giving, and I am so thrilled when people connect with the story!♦

An extended version of Underneath the Grey will be released to the public Fall 2017. You can learn more about Underneath the Grey and Chen on Twitter and Facebook

¡Órale! “The Book of Life” is getting a sequel!

20th Century Fox

When I saw The Book of Life in theaters a couple of years ago, I had hoped it would get enough traction and fanbase to garner a sequel. The characters and animation were charming, as was the story, so I’m glad to know that we’re getting a new Book of Life film!

The news came during this year’s Annecy International Animation Film Festival. According to Remezcla via Variety, The Book of Life creator and director Jorge Gutiérrez will return to helm the sequel. I presume the same voice actors, including Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Kate del Castillo, and Ron Perlman, will be back as well (no confirmation yet).
Gutiérrez had teased a sequel last year, and has since retweeted that old tweet, which features a very different, angrier-looking Xibalba and a different, Aztec-inspired goddess. Also, Manolo, Maria and Joaquín are all dead, fighting against something or someone. In short, it seems like a much darker–yet just as fun–chapter in the Book of Life saga. Will the sequel follow the narrative the early concept art shows us? I hope so–I really want to know what the story is that inspired this art, especially that goddess.

But I hope that La Muerte is still a part of the mix; her character design is still one of the most inspired designs I’ve seen in a while, especially now that we’re in the age of homogenous Pixar or Pixar-influenced art. Let’s be real–mainstream 3D films are all starting to look exactly the same. The Book of Life jazzed things up a whole lot, not just where diversity and representation are concerned (because 3D animated films are still white-centric). The playfulness and imaginative quality that The Book of Life art has is something that has been lacking in 3D animated films, and it’s definitely something Pixar has increasingly lost since it lost its arthouse sensibilities after becoming a full-blown part of Disney.

I digress, but I’ll also use this as a segue to discuss The Book of Life‘s “competition,” as it were–Pixar’s Coco. I’ve already written about how some aren’t feeling Coco and it’s similar The Book of Life look. But Gutiérrez doesn’t view them as competition and, in fact, welcomes more films that are taking on this topic. And, in Pixar’s defense, it looks like Pixar isn’t taking the typically Disney easy way out when it comes to telling this story, i.e. creating a sanitized, whitewashed version of Mexican culture. Aside from screenwriter and Pixar animator Adrian Molina co-directing the film with Lee Unkrich, Pixar has hired some of its biggest critics as a think-tank to keep the film culturally sound. (However, the think-tank idea only seems to be after Disney’s 2013 trademark debacle when they tried to secure the phrase “Día de los Muertos,” which resulted in a PR nightmare. An artist who came out against them, Lalo Alcaraz, was asked by Pixar to be a part of the think-tank, and I hope they heed what he and the rest of the experts have to say. You can read more about this at Vanity Fair.)

To get back on topic, I’m really excited to see what The Book of Life has in store for us the second go-round. What do you think about this news? Give your opinions below!

“Black Panther” Trailer and Poster Debut and Twitter Gets (Rightfully) Hyped

The time has come! The Black Panther poster and trailer has dropped!

Friday was basically Black Panther Day when Marvel decided to post the first teaser poster for the film while teasing the first trailer, which eventually dropped that night during Game 4 of the NBA Finals. When the trailer finally debuted, it didn’t disappoint.

Here’s what the fans thought about it, courtesy of Twitter and Black Girl Nerds’ Twitter Moments:

Overall, I’m so ready to see this in the theaters. Finally, a Marvel film that 1) joins the Captain America films in the “Marvel movies that don’t feel like Marvel movies” category and 2) actually speaks to me as an audience member.

To be honest, I think I’m actually still numb from excitement. In short, this is going to be a watershed moment for Marvel movies. If you’ve read my Mediaversity review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, you’ll learn more about my grudge against Marvel’s overall approach to their film franchise. In short, it’s a ton of dudebro “white men only” type of stuff the majority of the time, with black characters (and characters of other minorities) as background flavor or loyal no. 2 characters (I love the Russo Brothers and their approach to Captain America, but how they wrote Sam Wilson in Captain America 3: Civil War was quite tragic and full of “Yes Suh!” annoyance).

But Marvel finally did right by a black character and, indeed, a black film franchise (because you know Black Panther has got to have some sequels).  Not only is this a film filled with black characters–a wide array of black characters with different motivations, looks, and personalities, mind you–but it’s a film written and directed by black man (Ryan Coogler) and featuring the talents of a black behind-the-scenes team, including women like Hannah Beachler and Ruth Elaine Carter, as Twitter has been quick to point out:

I love me some Cap (and I double love Chris Evans), but Chadwick Boseman has immediately moved to the top as my favorite Marvel star. Chris Evans is definitely a second-favorite, though, and besides, even he’s going to be first in line at the movie theater:

I’m gonna be first in line as well.

What do you think of the first Black Panther trailer? Give your opinions below!

You know that picture of the 19th century black equestrian? She’s getting a movie!

If you’re a person who lives on the side of Diversity-in-History Twitter, then you’ve seen this picture of this enigmatic equestrian over and over again.

You’ve probably wondered what her backstory is, what her station was in life, and what she thought of the times she lived in. Lucky for us, she’s getting her own short film!

The film, The Adventures of Selika, will tell the story of the woman in the picture, Selika Lazevski, described by Shadow and Act as a “19th century high society equestrian.” Little is known about Lazevksi, but The Adventures of Selika posits that Lazevksi was a “young African princess displaced by war, who was brought up by a noble family in France during the Second Empire (1861-63). Now a young woman, following an unfortunate inciden, Selika is forced from the security and comfort of the life she has known. She sets off for Paris, and determines to forge her own curious and independent path in the world.” French actress and César Award nominated Karidja Touré, best known for her role in the film Girlhood, will play Lazevksi. Luke Elliot and Jennifer Daley also star in the film, adding to the portrayal of a world in which people of color are also a vibrant part of European high society.

It seems we’re finally entering a space in which more and more historical films about people of color are being created, and it’s about time, since history never happened in a white vacuum, unlike what history books what lead you to believe. As popular as historical/costume dramas are among a wide set of entertainment fans, including women of color, the genre can now begin to represent all aspects of its audience. Let’s hope some more historical subjects get their own films. 

Since this is a costume drama, of course there’s going to be tons of pictures featuring gorgeous clothes. Behold, the gallery of awesomeness!

And one last one from Touré’s Twitter account:

Overall, the film looks gorgeous, and really speaks to me on a personal level. As a fan of costume dramas myself, this film looks like the costume drama of my dreams. The Adventures of Selika will be released April 16, which also happens to be Easter, so happy Easter to us! What do you think about this film? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

More info: Shadow and Act, SUPERSELECTED