'White Girl' Evokes NYC Nostalgia While Tackling Privilege And Power Dynamics

"My goal isn’t to shock, it’s to be real and authentic. Which can sometimes be shocking.”

White Girl, written and directed by Elizabeth Wood, is an epic portrayal of New York City's hazy summer scene. The film follows Leah (Morgan Saylor), an over-the-top college freshman who moves to Brooklyn with her best friend. After eyes lock, a curious interest sparks between Leah and Puerto Rican dope purveyor Blue (Brian ‘Sene’ Marc), resulting in a tragic romance. After Blue gets caught up in the drug enterprise and thrown in jail, Leah goes to extreme ends to get him back. Starring Hamilton's Anthony Ramos and Sex and the City's Chris Noth, White Girl tackles white privilege and points at current racial politics.

Through 88 minutes of raunchy sex, various drugs and obscene profanity, you get a filthy feel of what the darker side of 5th Avenue looks like. One thing that immediately grabs your attention is the merger of Latino drug dealers and Anglo women new to Brooklyn. It's a cross between what New York City was and its new gentrified identity that we're seeing today. Whether the film is a real portrayal of New York City streets or an overly-dramatized one is up for debate, but the raw conversation that this film creates is its true purpose. White Girl invites its audience to a conversation on the topics of gentrification, socio-economic issues, the party scene and rape culture, leaving some with a sense of discomfort in their reality.

“I want people to think about the film," Wood told Indie Wire. "I know there are plenty of times I walk out of a movie theater and am just thinking about what I want to eat, so if the film is on their mind, it was a triumph.”

Leah's frizzy platinum blonde hair and charismatic, yet loony smile gives for a captivating performance. Described by Saylor as "ready to party," "open" and "adventurous," her character is very complicated in nature as she is still exploring herself while we, the onlookers, simultaneously try to figure her out. New to the streets of the Big Apple, Leah gets a sobering reality check when she realizes she's a young, white woman in an environment inhabited by generations of people of color, also riddled with machismo. When she's left with the dangerous task of selling Blue's large amount of cocaine, she makes full use of the leverage behind her body and the color of her skin. "She's dealing with the implications of being white, of being female and also cocaine," Wood said to The Wrap. "This is a girl exploring the world in its own, realizing her whiteness, realizing the power structure of what it means to use sex, to use being a woman, to use race."

Set wise, it's New York City down to the core, with bodegas and fire escapes galore, and an orchestra of police sirens and train screeches. You get a sense of familiarity when watching the film, which is already being compared to Larry Clark's controversial 1995 film, Kids.

Clark has reportedly been a strong influence on Wood during the film's creation. Kids brought to light the unsettling truth of New York City's youth and their taboo approach to drugs and sex during the rise of AIDS. Not only did the film make the hairs on your back stand up, but it discussed a controversial topic when no one else did. White Girl is said to be a millennial version of Kids, however, approaching different conversations.

In 2013, Elizabeth Wood earned an MFA in Screenwriting at Columbia University, before penning the screenplay based loosely on her own experiences as an eccentric white girl. “I’ve got intense sensibilities,” Wood described in an interview with Variety. “I just like to feel things. My goal isn’t to shock, it’s to be real and authentic. Which can sometimes be shocking.”

Absorbing that intensity in her writing, she completed the screenplay for White Girl and began production in 2015, despite budgeting problems. When her financier dropped out last minute, Wood relied on budget cuts and private investors to bring her project to fruition. Soon thereafter, her widely talked-about film made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival with a nomination for the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize. It also won first place at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Later, the film's streaming rights were picked up by Netflix.

White Girl will be released in select theaters on Sept. 2. For information on early, private screenings, visit here.

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Popular Celeb Spot 'La Marina' Shut Down After Drug Bust

Adored by celebrities like French Montana, Jay-Z and Leonardo DiCaprio, New York hot spot La Marina might be closing its doors for a good after a drug bust led to a suspension of their liquor license.

A statement released Dec. 6 by the New York Liquor Authority (SLA) broke down the case, which overlapped with an investigation by the NYPD in July. Bar manager Christian Mendez, 33, was arrested in November on felony charges after he was caught selling large amounts of cocaine, oxycodone and other drugs to undercover NYPD detectives. Their investigation into the venue also revealed 72 violations of the state liquor law like selling liquor to minors and impaired customers.

Chairman Vincent Bradley and Commissioner Lily Fan condemned the venue and hope to yank their liquor license for good. “When a bar manager is able to traffic and sell these types and quantities of narcotics from within an establishment it is incredibly alarming," Counsel to the Authority Christopher R. Riano said.

“Licensees have a responsibility to ensure their establishments are operating within the law, and the SLA is obligated to take emergency action as it is clear that this licensee has failed to take any meaningful actions to protect the public.”

La Marina was also hit with sixteen violations of the ABC Law, including seven counts of operating disorderly premises for permitting the trafficking of controlled substances, six violations for fire, health and more safety code violations. Their inspection grade in July was something close to an F minus for mishandlings of food, shoddy plumbing and the presence of mice and flies.

The venue has been a staple in the area since its opening in 2012, attracting big celebrities and brands like Red Bull and HBO. The New York Post notes La Marina has a 15-year lease, where they make up to $7 million a year in revenue.

Their social presence hasn't acknowledged their current status, but their calendar for upcoming events has been scrapped from their website.

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Judge Awards Cardi B Release Without Bail After Alleged Bartender Attack

Cardi B reported to court Friday morning (Dec. 7) in efforts to resolve an ongoing court case, which stems from an alleged altercation back in August at a Queens strip club involving two bartenders named Jade and Baddie Gi.

Prior to attending court, the "Money" MC was threatened to face jail time by the judge in charge of the case if she missed today’s court date. She reportedly had a court appearance on Monday (Dec. 3) that she failed to report to.

In October, the Bronx rapper (born Belcalis Almanzar) turned herself in to authorities after being accused of orchestrating a physical attack on the servers at Angels Strip Club. Per TMZ, she was arrested for two misdemeanor charges: assault and reckless endangerment.

One of the bartenders, Jade Gi, was accused of having an affair with Cardi’s (now possibly estranged) husband, Migos member Offset. The “She Bad” rapper was released without bail. Prosecutors reportedly wanted to charge her with a $2,500 bail, but the judge felt she wasn’t a flight risk, meaning she wouldn’t leave the country before the case is over in its totality.

However, the judge did warn Cardi to have “no contact” to Baddie and Jade Gi, after he granted both an order of protection against the 26 year-old. She’s also not allowed to make any threats or comment on the two on social media.

Cardi is reportedly scheduled to head back to court sometime next month.

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Premiere: Fuego And A. Chal Take Over The Strip Club In "Dancin" Music Video

Dominican trap artist Fuego has created an ode to the art of stripping with his new single “Dancin,” featuring producer and R&B extraordinaire A. Chal. The visuals for the track are laced with bright blue club lights and brief salacious interludes of voluptuous young ladies dancing provocatively.

The two are seemingly in a never-ending party in efforts to promote strip club etiquette through their tantalizing lyrics. There's no denying that Fuego's sound is reminiscent of today's prominent trap artists like Migos and Future, but he packs in a Latino flair, like his contemporaries Bad Bunny and El Alfa. The Washington D.C. native's sound is similar, but it's worth noting he's been on the scene for a while, steadily etching his mark as his musical prowess rises within hip-hop and Latin audiences.

“For some reason, I've always wanted to do a sound that American hip-hop has, and then break that my way,” he tells VIBE. “When it comes to putting stuff together and making fusions of music, I've done it all my life. When I first started out, I did reggae beats, but I was rapping over them. There’s a little more urban, hip-hop sound in the Latin community. Before, it was mad reggae. It either had to be a tropical type song or reggaeton song. I've always wanted to come out with hip-hop music."

Watch the video for "Dancin" below.

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