Monthly Archives: May 2010

Special Screening of the Karate Kid

The Karate Kid Screening
May 26
AMC River East 21

Over 750 Chicago Public School 8th grade students along with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago and YMCA groups can out for a street festival and special screening of The Karate Kid, a remake of the 1984 film with Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita.

The 2010 version includes Jaden Smith (son of Will and Jada Picket Smith) and Jackie Chan who attended the screening along with Will Smith, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Chicago Bears players Isreal Idonijae and Richard Dent.

The film centers around  Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) and his struggle to fit after his recent move to China with his mother. With no friends and emerging bullies, Dre gets help from Kung Fu master Mr. Han (Jackie Chan). The film opens nationwide on June 11th.


Photos by Adam Bielawksi

Nas & Damian “Jr Gong ” Marley Distant Relatives

Distant Relatives
Nas and Damian Marley
Release: May 18, 2010
Label: Republic Universal Music

By Mozelle Ellis

I’m rarely left speechless concerning music. Amazingly this is one of those cases. Nas & Damian Marley had me just amazed at this miracle composition of tracks.

It is the blessing we have all been waiting on to arrive. Both, Nas and Marley, take us on a world wind trip from the Islands straight to Africa. It is heart beating, strong with pounding percussions and powerful accentuations of rhythms.  Distant Relatives is one of the most amazing collaborations and I’m sure it will be blessed as a classic.  This is the birth of a new sound and I see many Grammy’s from this strong production.

Distant Relatives is very evident that much heart, love, spirit, and knowledge of what the people really want to hear. In addition this definitely was not a rush job CD. Distant Relatives is filled with many thought provoking lyrics, mixing Reggae, Hip-Hop, and World Music (African). It’s not a CD packed with filler or lack of substance. You can push away from the table feeling very full with good vibes and wisdom. The blessing has arrived.

I love every track on Distant Relatives equally, but if I had to pick tracks that stand out with this one it’s not easy at all. The CD was released last night and I woke up to find email and comments on my Facebook from family and friends telling me what tracks they were really feeling. This was definitely a first for me. Nine hours after the release I’m getting emails.

Maxwell and Jill Scott Summer Tour

R&B superstars Maxwell and Jill Scott brought their summer tour to the United Center on May 25th. Maxwell performed songs from his latest CDBLACKsummers’night”  while Scott sang some of her hits.





Photos by Dan Locke

Just Wright Chicago Premiere with Common

The AMC River East 21 welcomed rapper/actor Common for the Chicago Premiere of the his new movie Just Wright with a guest list of Chicago celebrities at the red carpet ceremony.

Celebrities at the premiere included: Chicago Bear players Otis Wilson, Earl Bennett, Israel Idonije, Jarron Gilbert, Matt Forte, and Matt Teaina; New Jersey Jets star Bobby Simmons and singer/songwriter Phoenix Phenom.

Photos by Adam Bielawski

Review: Just Wright

Chitown, stand up. ‘Just Wright’ gets it just right.

By Wendy Simmons

This very family friendly movie shows that true love comes to those who wait and who are true to themselves. It’s one of those movies where you think you know what’s going to happen, but you’re still anxious to find out.

‘Just Wright’ centers on physical therapist Leslie Wright, played by Quinn Latifah. Leslie is in her mid thirties, and is wondering when the guy she can’t live without will come along. It’s not for lack of trying, but her down to earth, homegirl demeanor causes her to get looked at more as the friend than a lover.

Leslie’s luck seems to have turned around when she unexpectedly meets her favorite basketball player, Scott McKnight, played by Chicago’s own Common. He invites her to his birthday bash but instead of him falling head over heels for Leslie, he is smitten by her god sister and house guest Morgan Alexander, played by Paula Patton.

Like most typical movies, rich Scott and beautiful Morgan begin a fairytale relationship. But this movie isn’t typical and after a series of events, Scott’s fairytale takes a turn for the worst. At that point, Leslie is called on to be the encourager…and she takes her job very seriously.

Leslie’s dedication and encouragement helps to allow her appeal to shine in many different directions. Even though she isn’t the woman most guys chase, she is ultimately the kind of girl most guys want. And it becomes clear once the cloud of vanity whips away and true sunshine is allowed to brighten the day.

I truly enjoyed this movie. The characters are very relatable and realistic. I applaud its ability to take modern day situations and keep it clean enough for all to see. It’s a great story with good actors and a few twists and turns. This may be seen as just another love story but it also has a subtle way of showing that true friendship still exists.

Common did a great job for his first leading man role. And Queen held her own as the headliner of this romantic comedy. I laughed but I also had to look for a tissue. And for the single ladies, it’s a wholesome movie that will help to keep you pushing toward your fairytale.

This is definitely a great matinee movie and maybe even the top pick for an evening show!

I give it $$$ ½

Ranking =
$$$$ Evening Show Prices
$$$ Matinee Prices
$$ Rental Prices
$ Wait For TV

Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Review: Why Did I Get Married Too?

By Wendy Simmons

Tyler, Tyler, Tyler! I am shaking my head.

Why Did I Get Married 2, the much anticipated sequel to Why Did I Get Married deals with the interactions of friends and their marriages. Four long time couples vacation together periodically to celebrate the good and explore the bad in marriages.

The weekend gets some added tension when an unexpected visitor pops up. But that is not where the tension ends. Patricia, played by Janet Jackson, is the cultivator of these vacations because she writes relationship books. However, her relationship is not as it seems. And her “perfect Patty” image is tarnished as the movie progresses.

Once the couples go home, we learn more about their strained marriages. Some have trust and infidelity issues, some have issues of lost love, some have issues dealing with providing for home. But they all have major issues!

Now that I have the pleasantries out the way…l was very disappointed with this movie! I was a fan of the original simply because it was not as unbelievable and drama-filled as the typical Tyler Perry production. But the sequel, lived up to his characteristically mind-boggling history of drama-filled movies! There was entirely too much going on! Like I said earlier, these couples had issues! Lots of issues!

In my opinion Tyler Perry throws 10 movie topics into one movie. And because of this, the viewer doesn’t get a chance to connect to the characters nor their issues. And it causes him to have to force an ending that is not fulfilling to the viewer. At least not to this viewer.

Given, the movie said some things that make you think. The movie even made you want to look deeper into yourself. It surprised you from time to time and it also shows that all marriages have problems behind closed doors. For that, it’s a success. But throwing out thought provoking adages and mouth dropping shockers does not make a movie whole. I was not satisfied. I was ready to throw my shoe at the screen when it ended. It may have been a sequel, but I don’t feel like it tied very well with the original. There were things thrown into the movie that did not make sense giving the way the original movie ended.

Although I admire and respect Tyler Perry and his success, I am not a huge fan of his work, and this did nothing but make me continue to have a distasteful opinion of his productions.

This is definitely a wait for tv movie. I give it $ ½.

Ranking =
$$$$ Evening Show Prices
$$$ Matinee Prices
$$ Rental Prices
$ Wait For TV

Photo courtesy of Lions Gate Entertainment

After-the-Show: w/ Pierre Edwards

By Sommer Thorton

Comedian Pierre Edwards brought the house down at the taping of Martin Lawrence Presents: The 1st Amendment Stand-Up Series last night. Most remember Pierre from his days on Def Comedy Jam, and BET’s Comicview. In 1997 he starred in How to Be a Player and B*A*P*S, making him one of the most successful comedians at that time. Pierre, who says that beneath all the layers of his jokes there’s a real story, chatted with me after his set about the current state of the Biz, his 20 year career, and the renewed appeal of light-skinned men in America.

As a final send off to his performance, Pierre dropped his microphone on stage and threw up his hands. He explained to me that he was expressing a bit of resentment at the fact that he feels he doesn’t get the respect he deserves in the industry. “I was scheduled to go on at the 8:00 pm taping but they switched me at the last minute. They treated me like a rookie.”  Usually the most popular acts are booked for a primetime taping. The undisputed A-lister of the 6pm show, Pierre feels that other less popular comedians are chosen over him because he doesn’t “play the game.” Pierre doesn’t drink, smoke, or have a lot of different women around, so that, he says may be one reason.  

Another may be that in the era of 5 minutes of fame, the comedy industry is very competitive. Gone are the days of Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy comedy specials and lucrative movie spin-offs. Even after a comedian breaks into the industry, they must evolve with ever-changing media to keep working.

However, the outlook for Pierre is not at all gloomy. He has a new book, “My 100 Homies and Phonies of Hollywood” set to be released in June, and he’s touring with a new stage play, Loving Him is Killing Me, opposite Angie Stone and NeNe Leakes.  And since the election of President Barack Obama, the light-skinned brotha is making a comeback. Years ago Pierre made his dating plight -the plight of the light skinned black man known to the world. In his act, Pierre would joke about how the appeal of the Al B. Sures, Debarges, and Mario Van Peebles of the world was overshadowed in the 90’s by heartthrobs like Wesley Snipes, Denzel Washington, and Blair Underwood.  But the election of President Barack Obama has made light skinned men sexy again.

Pierre then reflected on the truth behind his timeless joke. “It’s an old joke-that came from reality. Women weren’t feeling light-skinned [men] back then. But it reflects the ugly truth about complexion and our people.” Pierre is easy on the eyes, yet he jokes that he still hasn’t had luck finding Ms. Right.  In his earlier set, Pierre said “I’m looking for a wife. I don’t want a dip (mistress).” Yet seconds later, he broke down the essential rules of adultery: always cheat with someone better than your woman – she’ll be more understanding; and the 10/10 rule. While Pierre’s jokes about commitment may displease a potential Ms. Right, he kept the couples in the audience laughing and raising eyebrows at each other. “It’s what they need to hear.” Pierre says. “If you’re gonna cheat, this is the reality.”

 A no-nonsense crowd is one of the many reasons Pierre loves to perform in Chicago. We ended our chat by talking about some of Pierre’s favorite spots to hang out in the city. Though it’s closed now, the Clique on Michigan Avenue was his favorite nightclub. “I really like the downtown area. I love this city from April to September.” – Ditto Pierre.

1st Amendment Stand-Up Brings Latest and Greatest Comics to Chicago Theater

By Sommer Thornton  

The fifth season of Martin Lawrence Presents: The 1st Amendment Stand-Up series is being filmed this week at the Chicago Theater. Last night, the first two sets included favorites like Sandra Bernhard, Jimmy “JJ” Walker (Good Times, Everybody Hates Chris), Gary Owen (House of Payne), Pierre, and local comedian turned radio personality, Leon Rogers. The lineup represented many demographics, and tackled topics like immigration, gay rights, Maury Povich, the Obamas, infidelity, and of course sex.

Host Sheryl Underwood, a veteran herself, reminisced with the audience about her old hang out spots in Chicago. Sheryl is a South-Side native, so she was especially proud to be back amongst friends and family. When asked why Chicago was his favorite city to perform in, comedian Pierre commented, “Chicago is real. People here just get it.”

Some of the funniest moments came from the discussion about sex and relationships. Power 92’s Leon Rogers gave the audience a new word for oral sex. “Instead of saying gimme some ‘*&^#@,’ call it ‘wacka flocka.’” Wacka Flocka is actually a new rap artist. Leon’s explanation for why oral sex should now be called “wacka flocka”, “cause that’s the sound men wanna hear when ladies are doing it!” Pierre, who has appeared on BET’s Comicview as well as How to Be a Player, reminded the audience of the 10/10 rule to infidelity. “The side-chick can’t call after 10 pm or before 10am.”

Other memorable moments included Jimmy “JJ” Walker’s reenactment of a typical Maury Povich DNA results show, and Gary Owen’s comparison of a Catholic mass versus a Baptist church. “I thought it was rude to talk while the pastor was speaking until I went to a black church.” As a white comedian who has rose to the top of the comedy biz, Gary Owen keeps crowds laughing at the hysterics of his interracial marriage. “Sometimes I sit at my kids’ sports games and pretend I’m not their dad, just to hear what people will say.”

Executive Producer Martin Lawrence has come full circle from a guest starring role in a cult classic 2 decades ago, to numerous comedy specials, his own sitcom, movies, to finally his own stand-up comedy show. One of Martin’s first big breaks came as the host of Russell Simmons’s Def Comedy Jam on HBO in the 90’s- a stand-up show which catapulted Sheryl Underwood, Cedric the Entertainer, Steve Harvey, and countless others into stardom. Most of the comics of the 1st Amendment Stand-Up series either guest starred on Def Jam or were avid viewers.

Photos courtesy of Starz Entertainment

Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek at House of Blues

By Tamara Jenkins                                                                                                                             

The Hip Hop duo Reflection Eternal better known as MC Talib Kweli and producer Hi-Tek ended their absence from the music world during their performance at Chicago’s House of Blues on April 27th.

Touring in support of their soon to be released sophomore CD Revolutions Per Minute, the long awaited follow up to 2000’s Train of Thought, the duo amazed the crowd during the nearly two hour set. 

Wasting no time, Hi-Tek took to the stage and his post behind the turntable with Kweli following minutes later and performed “Move Somethin”.

The expansive set list included the first single from the new CD, “In This World” which samples a verse from Jay Z’s 2003 song Moment of Clarity in which Mr. Carter states- “if skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably be lyrically Talib Kweli” – a true testament not only to the MC’s talent, but to his influence among his peers.  

Additional new material performed included: “Back Again”, the sixties doo-wop  inspired  “Midnight Hour” featuring singer Estelle, “The Ballad of Black Gold”, and their ode to the dirty south “Strangers (Paranoid)” featuring Bun B. Old favorites included “The Blast” and “Memories” and songs from their respective solo projects such as “Listen”, “Hot Thing”, “Say Something”, “In the Mood”, “Never Been in Love” from Kweli and “My Piano” from Hi Tek.

The show concluded with photos of Malcolm X, MLK Jr., Rosa Parks, Angela Davis, Frederick Douglas, Nelson Mandela, President Barack Obama and other prominent figures being displayed on a screen as Kweli performed “Get By”. 

As the duo said their goodbye and left the stage, the crowd had already began chanting Kweli, Kweli, Kweli for an encore, which they got and will get another , if they pick up the CD on May 18th!

Photo by Dan Locke