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Brian Tyree Henry (left), Keith Stanfield (middle) & Donald Glover (left) | FX

Review: Donald Glover’s 'Atlanta' Isn’t Just Another Black Narrative

Here’s something you don’t see on television every day.

Leading up to the release of Donald Glover’s new FX series, Atlanta, there wasn’t much to go off of but a name, which took us on a one-way flight down south, a series of short clips with very little plot development, and Donald’s indication that the TV series would delve into what it’s like to be black. While the storyline follows the lives of African-American men leading “dollar and a dream” lifestyles as they attempt to carve out rap careers of their own, Atlanta is far from the stereotype. In fact, it’s not the black narrative that we could’ve foreseen, but the realistic one that we probably needed.

If you’re looking for action-packed episodes with twists and turns, this isn’t it. To say the least, the series – to which Donald wrote, directed, executive produced, and starred in – progresses sort of like a slow-roasting chicken. In fact, “slow” wouldn’t even be the word to accurately account for the sluggish pace established in the first three episodes. But it takes time to unthaw the characters and flesh out the plot. In turn, the story only develops when Earn (played by Glover) decides to abandon his uneventful post at the airport and follow his instinct to becoming a manager for his cousin, up-and-coming rapper, Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry).

You can try to take the hustler out of the hood, but you can’t take the hood out of the hustler. A ballsy stunt in the first episode seems to have worked its magic on Paper Boi and his righthand man (who is balancing somewhere in between philosophical genius and high as hell) Darius’ (Keith Stanfield) reputation, but it presents a bit of a dilemma for Earn.

At the moment, Earn is in a homeless limbo, sometimes staying at his parent’s house or with Van (Zazie Beetz), the mother of his infant daughter. He’s barely got a job and his lethargic, sometimes narcissistic persona might be just the thing that’s holding him back from truly achieving a successful career and a happy ending with Van and his family. In just a few episodes, Glover has married his leading cast’s carpe diem desires with the day-to-day duties of paying rent and being a present father.  It’s a plain Jane, run-of-the-mill come-up story, but here’s why it works: it’s honest.

Glover has written out a slice of life that doesn't err on the side of being politically correct or making a social statement. The reactions of the black men waiting in prison when a regularly-arrested, mentally ill man drinks out of the toilet or a man being reunited with his ex-girlfriend whom he realizes is transgender, isn’t censored. In its honesty, it may have shed light onto holes in the black community when it comes to sexuality and disabilities, but it presents the issues authentically without lingering.

Glover, whose stage name is Childish Gambino, is known for bringing a certain awkwardness to the table. That same vibe is presented in Atlanta. The series is coated with dry humor and social detachment that sometimes makes you cringe but also connects to blackness as it is today. For example, Earn runs into an old, Caucasian buddy, who now works at a big radio station. When the friend recalls a story at a party using the N-word as his punchline, Earn is forced to do one of two things: cuss him out or laugh it off. In the moment, he chooses to laugh it off, but returns the favor when he asks his friend to recall the same story in front of Paper Boi and Darius. And let’s just say the story has some minor tweaks the second time around. It’s that sort of comedic relief that makes it relatable.

While the writing is simplistic in many ways, it speaks to the power of the cast that brings it to life.  Henry and Stanfield hold it down in terms of capturing the essence of merely living. And Beetz, the show’s only female lead thus far, gives a particular sophistication and attitude that is needed among an otherwise male-dominated world. Thirty-minute episodes don't seem like enough time to give them the spotlight they desire, but it's something that Glover can flesh out with practice as the season continues.

Unfortunately, the show’s scope probably isn’t wide enough to reach a huge TV audience, but it’s narrative is much appreciated in a sea of dramas, thrillers and slap-stick comedies. Atlanta is far from anything seen on cable right now and although it may show what it’s like to be black, it definitely isn’t only for black people. Atlanta inches along, but it has a real shot at being one of the breakout series of the fall.

Atlanta premieres on September 6, on FX at 10 p.m. ET. 

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2019 Academy Awards: 'Black Panther,' Spike Lee, Regina King Among The Nominees

The 2019 Oscar nominations were announced on Tuesday (Jan. 22), and some of our favorites are up for some big awards. The highly-coveted nominations were announced by Tracee Ellis Ross and Kumail Nanjiani.

Black Panther is up for seven awards, including Best Picture. It will be up against the likes of BlacKkKlansman for the night's biggest honor. The Spike Lee Joint is up for six awards including Best Director, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Adam Driver), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score. Barry Jenkins garnered a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for If Beale Street Could Talk.

As for acting awards, Regina King was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her part in If Beale Street Could Talk. The role won her a Golden Globe Award earlier this month. Mahershala Ali is also up for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Green Book. If he wins, this will be his second Academy Award.

Hip-hop also got a some love from the Academy. Kendrick Lamar and SZA’s collaboration “All The Stars” from the film Black Panther was nominated for “Best Original Song.” This means the song’s writers K. Dot, SZA, Al Shux, Sounwave, and Anthony ‘Top Dawg’ Tiffith could all go home with a statuette at the end of the night. Ludwig Goransson also may receive a win for his work on Black Panther's Original Score.

The Oscars have been under a microscope as of late, due to controversy surrounding the initial host for the event, Kevin Hart, and his nearly-decade old homophobic tweets. After stepping down from his role amidst scrutiny, the event will not have a host.

The 91st Annual Academy Awards will take place on Feb. 24 at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theater. Take a look at the full list of nominees below.

Best Picture BlacKkKlansman Black Panther Bohemian Rhapsody The Favourite Green Book Roma A Star Is Born Vice

Best Director Alfonso Cuaron (Roma) Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman) Adam McKay (Vice) Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)

Best Actress Yalitza Aparicio (Roma) Glenn Close (The Wife) Olivia Colman (The Favourite) Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born) Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Best Actor Christian Bale (Vice) Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born) Willem Dafoe (At Eternity's Gate) Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role Amy Adams (Vice) Marina de Tavira (Roma) Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) Emma Stone (The Favourite) Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role Mahershala Ali (Green Book) Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman) Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born) Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) Sam Rockwell (Vice)

Best Costume Design The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Mary Zophres) Black Panther (Ruth E. Carter) The Favourite (Sandy Powell) Mary Poppins Returns (Sandy Powell) Mary Queen of Scots (Alexandra Byrne)

Best Sound Editing Black Panther Bohemian Rhapsody First Man A Quiet Place Roma

Best Sound Mixing Black Panther Bohemian Rhapsody First Man Roma A Star Is Born

Best Animated Short Animal Behaviour Bao Late Afternoon One Small Step Weekends

Best Live-Action Short Detainment Fauve Marguerite Mother Skin

Best Film Editing BlacKkKlansman (Barry Alexander Brown) Bohemian Rhapsody (John Ottman) The Favourite (Yorgos Mavropsaridis) Green Book (Patrick J. Don Vito) Vice (Hank Corwin)

Best Original Score Black Panther (Ludwig Goransson) BlacKkKlansman (Terence Blanchard) If Beale Street Could Talk (Nicholas Britell) Isle of Dogs (Alexandre Desplat) Mary Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman)

Best Documentary Feature Free Solo Hale County This Morning, This Evening Minding the Gap Of Fathers and Sons RBG

Best Documentary Short Subject Black Sheep End Game Lifeboat A Night at the Garden Period. End of Sentence.

Best Foreign-Language Film Capernaum (Lebanon) Cold War (Poland) Never Look Away (Germany) Roma (Mexico) Shoplifters (Japan)

Best Production Design Black Panther (Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart) The Favourite (Fiona Crombie and Alice Felton) First Man (Nathan Crowley and Kathy Lucas) Mary Poppins Returns (John Myhre and Gordon Sim) Roma (Eugenio Caballero and Barbara Enriquez)

Best Visual Effects Avengers: Infinity War Christopher Robin First Man Ready Player One Solo: A Star Wars Story

Best Cinematography The Favourite (Robbie Ryan) Never Look Away (Caleb Deschanel) Roma (Alfonso Cuaron) A Star Is Born (Matty Libatique) Cold War (Lukasz Zal)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Border Mary Queen of Scots Vice

Best Animated Feature Incredibles 2 Isle of Dogs Mirai Ralph Breaks the Internet Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Adapted Screenplay A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters and Eric Roth) The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen) BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott) If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty)

Best Original Screenplay The Favourite (Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara) First Reformed (Paul Schrader) Green Book (Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga) Roma (Alfonso Cuaron) Vice (Adam McKay)

Best Original Song "All the Stars" (Black Panther, written by Kendrick Lamar, Al Shux, Sounwave, SZA and Anthony Tiffith) Performed by Kendrick Lamar and SZA

"I'll Fight" (RBG, written by Diane Warren) Performed by Jennifer Hudson

"The Place Where Lost Things Go" (Mary Poppins Returns, written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman) Performed by Emily Blunt

"Shallow" (A Star Is Born, written by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt) Performed by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga

"When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings" (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, written by Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch) Performed by Tim Blake Nelson and Willie Watson

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Leslie Jones Expresses Disdain Over Upcoming ‘Ghostbusters’ Film

Earlier this month, it was announced that Ghostbusters will be re-imagined. While the news sat well with fans of the mid-80s cult classic, it struck a nerve with others that are attached to the movie’s cinematic lineage.

Comedian Leslie Jones took to her Twitter account to air out her opinion, stating the all-women cast of 2016’s rendition of Ghostbusters, which she was a part of, were overlooked. “So insulting. Like f**k us. We dint count. It’s like something Trump would do. (Trump voice) ‘Gonna redo ghostbusteeeeeers, better with men, will be huge. Those women ain’t ghostbusteeeeers’ ugh so annoying,” she tweeted. “Such a d**k move. And I don’t give f**k I’m saying something!!”

The Saturday Night Live cast member also displayed how the upcoming film, which is slated to be released in 2020, and its possible all male cast will diminish the box office success of a cast spearheaded by women. “...if they make this new one with all me and it does well which it will, it might feel that ‘boys are better.’ It makes my heart drop,” she said. “Maybe I could have use different words but I’m allowed to have my feelings just like them.”

So insulting. Like fuck us. We dint count. It’s like something trump would do. (Trump voice)”Gonna redo ghostbusteeeeers, better with men, will be huge. Those women ain’t ghostbusteeeeers” ugh so annoying. Such a dick move. And I don’t give fuck I’m saying something!!

— Leslie Jones 🦋 (@Lesdoggg) January 19, 2019

It’s very sad that this is response I get.When the point is if they make this new one with all men and it does well which it will. It might feel that “boys are better”it makes my heart drop. Maybe I could have use different words but I’m allowed to have my feelings just like them

— Leslie Jones 🦋 (@Lesdoggg) January 20, 2019

The all-women adaptation of Ghostbusters, which also starred Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Jones’ fellow SNL cast mate Kate McKinnon, netted $180 million at the worldwide box office at its time of release. While it was one of the most talked about films of that year, during the press run Jones received a wave of racist comments from social media users, a moment that led the entertainer to take a step away from the Twitter platform.

“You have to hate yourself to put out that type of hate. I mean on my worst day I can’t think of this type of hate to put out,” she said.

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An Unofficial Documentary About Drake Is Currently On Streaming Services

An unauthorized documentary about the rise of musician Drake can be viewed on video distribution services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Drake: Rewriting the Rules initially dropped on Vimeo in Nov. 2018, and now, fans of the "God's Plan" musician will have a chance to watch it at their leisure on other platforms.

The documentary chronicles the music superstar from his days growing up in Toronto, to portraying Jimmy on the hit-teen drama Degrassi, to becoming a hip-hop star and working with musicians from Kanye West to his Young Money leader, Lil Wayne.

"Discover the untold story of how Drake rewrote the rules and rose from a child actor to become a cultural phenomenon and global musical icon," writes IMDb of the film's synopsis. "He is the king of pop and hip hop, combining many musical styles into one mainstream sound." The film runs 74 minutes long. Interviews from media figures and writers are included in the doc, which was directed and written by British filmmaker Ray King. However, no representatives from Drake's team are included.

Drake has not commented on the doc as of press time. He has been relatively quiet in the news, however, it's being reported that he is close to securing a residency of sorts at the Wynn's XS Nightclub in Las Vegas.

 

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