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'LA 92' Aims To Deconstruct The 1992 Los Angeles Riots And Rodney King's Story

LA 92 gives viewers a raw unfiltered view of the 92 riots in Los Angeles product of racial tension and Rodney King's beating by LAPD. 

It’s been 25 years since the 1992 Los Angeles riots and it seems like since then things have yet to change. Since that occurrence, violence and injustice have spread like a deadly virus to other regions of the U.S. and they’ve all been a prognosis of police brutality toward people of color—particularly black men.

Rodney King was 25-years-old when four cops brutally assaulted him on an L.A. street. In 1991, King was caught in a chase by authorities as he was speeding. Eventually, the police surrounded him alongside a patrol helicopter that captured the scene. He was tasered and beaten reportedly up to 50 times. This was all captured on video by a bystander on the scene, which garnered national attention. The cops were acquitted of all charges on April 29, 1992, and later that day the riots began over a course of five days. Reportedly, 63 people died, 12,000 people were arrested and about 2,000 were injured, the Daily Beast reports.

Directed by Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin, LA 92 recounts the startling moments that took place in the City of Angels through a collection of raw news reports during that time period. There are no interviews here, or some professor with a Ph.D offering their two cents on what happened. In the new documentary, you’re getting everything from a primary source, which was intentional.

“We decided maybe if we remove the interviews, and not have an expert deconstruct and give an analysis, we can recreate the events in space where we’re creating an experience for the audience,” explains Martin in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “And hopefully by taking a unique approach you allow the audience to have a greater understanding and elicit a greater conversation about race, class and injustice.”

Beneath King’s story, there were also other elements that added to the tension against the police. Ultimately, this would spark racial tension between the African American and Korean communities. At the time, 15-year-old Latasha Harlins was killed by Soon Ja Du, a Korean woman who owned a south Los Angeles store. Du accused the young woman of trying to steal a $1.79 bottle of orange juice. Harlins placed the beverage in her book-bag with $2 in her hand to pay for it.

Du reportedly yanked on her sweater and Harlins allegedly punched her in the face, knocking Du to the ground. The teen then sped off and left the juice on the store's counter. Then Du picked up a .38 handgun and fatally shot her in the head.

Subsequently Du was acquitted of all charges and summoned with community service and a small fine. This, of course, spurred anger. “For blacks, the killing became a symbol of the dangers and indifference faced by African American youths. Those feelings turned to rage when the woman who shot Harlins, Soon Ja Du, avoided jail time. That — along with the not-guilty verdicts in the King case — became a rallying cry during the 1992 Los Angeles riots,” wrote Angel Jennings for the Los Angeles Times.

The documentary excels at showcasing everything that took place through images of old news reports, and footage of Harlins' family speaking out on the injustice. There’s scenes in court houses, Koreans crying out as their stores burned—pleading for the violence to stop — and Rodney King’s partner at the time saying he did not deserve what happened. The tension is palpable through the screen and unfortunately feels all too familiar to Ferguson and Baltimore. Like King and Harlins, there’s Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland and so on.

Still, there was one piece of pivotal footage the filmmakers wish they would have shown, but because of licensing issues they couldn’t. “There was an interview that the local ABC affiliate did with one of the jury members on the 30th of April, so the day after the verdict,” Daniel recalls. “And it was a really compelling moment because you can hear the jury member doesn’t want to say he would have voted a different way. But he is clearly wrestling with the guilt of what he is watching unfold in the city.”

Another pivotal piece of evidence that luckily made it into the film was footage of Maxine Waters. The Congresswoman (D-Calif.) was at the forefront for her community when King's verdict was announced. She was (and still is) a driving force in representing the black community, and all of those who are marginalized. It was refreshing and inspirational to see her fighting for injustice back then, as she does today.

"I said in a 101 different ways that violence is not right, that I do not condone violence, that people cannot endanger their own or others' lives," Waters said in an interview used by The New York Times in 1992. "What I didn't do is to use the airwaves to call people hoodlums and thugs for burning down their own communities. It only makes them madder when you call them hoodlums and thugs, as the president did," she added referring to former President George H.W. Bush.

Ultimately, Bush pushed King's case to federal court, and in 1993 two out of the four cops responsible were sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. This changed how police brutality was seen. For once, it felt like the black community mattered. Sadly, the vindication wouldn't last long. King died in 2012, but his legacy still lives on and represents the face of adversity within all black and brown communities against dishonorable law enforcement.

LA 92 premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 21, and debuted on the National Geographic Channel on April 30. 

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Review: 'Bad Boys For Life' Proves To Be A Promising Crowd-Pleasing Throwback

“We ride together, we die together” never really made that much sense as a slogan, did it? Regardless, the line that epitomized the appeal of Bad Boys, the uber-violent action buddy cop franchise that turned Martin Lawrence and Will Smith into movie stars back in the mid-90s. Smith and Lawrence– now fiftysomethings– are back for a third go-round with surprising and enjoyable new tricks.

In 2003, the eight years between Bad Boys seemed like an eternity. But there’s been seventeen years between Bad Boys II and Bad Boys For Life—the former hit theaters before an iPhone ever existed, just as the so-called War On Terror was hitting full swing and a wide-eyed Beyonce embarked on a nascent solo career. If the buddy cop genre was on life support in the early 2000s, the formula is almost completely post-mortem in 2020; most buddy cop flicks in more recent times have been subversive spoofs (like 2010s The Other Guys) or unfunny one-offs (like the forgettable CHiPs).

This time around, Mike Lowry (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) face the realities of middle age. Burnett is happy to waltz into retirement and into “Papa” territory, exhausted from chasing kingpins. Lowry, on the other hand, is ever more of an adrenaline junkie than in the past; addicted to the thrill and holding on to a “bulletproof” playboy image that’s getting sadder and sadder—particularly when he’s forced to admit he wrecked a promising relationship with fellow officer Rita (Paola Nunez) and every time he peppers his bravado with Millennial-speak like “Turn up” and “One Hunnid.”

Lowry’s disappointment in Burnett’s desire to leave the force turns into something harsher after a shooting forces Mike to take stock and Marcus distances himself from his old partner. Of course, this is all just a set up for the duo to reconnect in the face of tragedy—along with a gaggle of new recruits led by Rita; including a computer geek who may or may not be a killing machine, a young tough guy who hates Lowry for apparently no reason, and Vanessa Hudgens.

Bad Boys For Life has more heart than the lunkheaded Bad Boys II, directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Ballah don’t forego the departed Michael Bay’s formula for punchlines and hyperkinetic violence; there’s an opening knife sequence that’s almost gratuitously graphic, and an action set-piece on a bridge that may be the most ambitious in the series. There’s only a passing mention of Burnett’s sister (played by Gabrielle Union in the previous film) and an obligatory callback to II’s funniest moment involving his daughter, but a lot of the movie’s emotional core sits with Smith’s Mike Lowry. Smith plays his first action star with an almost meta-level of intensity.

He’s the sum of all Will Smith’s Will Smithiness in one character and gets to play with the idea of Lowry’s machismo persona. Together with the recognition that Lawrence isn’t really an action star (the film smartly turns his affinity for sitting and watching as Smith jumps headfirst into heroics into a running gag), it’s a good turn for the characters and helps elevate the second half of the movie after a somewhat rote first half.

As the film’s “big bad,” Telenovela action star Kate del Castillo isn’t given a whole lot to do, nor is Jacob Scipio as Armas, as her son and steely hitman, who is on the hunt for Lowry. Reliably familiar support from Theresa Randle as Burnett’s long-suffering wife and Joe Pantoliano as the perpetually-flustered police captain Conrad Howard reminds everyone that this is a Bad Boys flick, and the actors clearly relish jumping back into their long-standing roles.

But these films always work best when Smith and Lawrence get to quip lines back-and-forth while dodging bullets, and the easy partnership between the two remains intact, even when the film lags under its own clichés or the sentiment borders on silly. There’s a twist that feels especially contrived and so many self-referential moments where Marcus and Mike seem to almost know that they’re in a movie about Marcus and Mike (who say “Bad boys for life” as a wedding toast, really?), but there’s a breeziness to the proceedings that feels more in line with the easy fun of the 1995 original—as opposed to the frenetically hyperactive feel of its sequel.

Anyone who is excited to see Bad Boys For Life wants to go into it for what these movies have always managed to give their fans; just enough comedy sprinkled with just enough to story to justify eye-popping action sequences and RoboCop-levels of bloodshed. The buddy cop genre was always predictable, but the best of it—classics like Lethal Weapon, Beverly Hills Cop and, yes, the first Bad Boys film—has always been a fun night at the movies.

In that regard, Bad Boys For Life doesn’t disappoint. It’s coasting on the easygoing partnership of Smith and Lawrence, as it always has. 25 years ago, they were two of the biggest stars on television, making a somewhat unlikely leap to action stardom in a movie initially written for then-Saturday Night Live comedians Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz that was being directed by a guy most people had never heard of. We may be a vastly different audience today than we were in the 1990s or 2000s, but there’s some fun in watching how different Mike and Marcus are too.

Franchises like Rush Hour and Lethal Weapon seem like big blockbuster brands of yesteryear, as a whole generation of moviegoers have grown up with vast comic book spectacles or rapid-chase car flicks overpopulated with musclebound tough guys. As such, Bad Boys For Life stands as a sort of throwback in popcorn entertainment; that reliable action-comedy that coasts on the chemistry and charisma of its leads—more so than otherworldly special effects or universe-building.

The constant mentions of “One last time” statements remind the audience that this could be the final go-round for Mike and Marcus. Big box office returns can reroute retirements, but if this is indeed the grand finale for Bad Boys, there are worse ways to go out. In a world where Lethal Weapon 4 and Rush Hour 3 exist (with talk of another in the Chris Tucker/Jackie Chan series coming down the pike), Bad Boys For Life should be praised for what it does manage to do so well. It’s fun, violent escapism that doesn’t ask too much of anyone. And sometimes that’s really all we need these movies to be.

Bad Boys For Life opens in theaters Friday, January 17.

Director(s): Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Jacob Scipio, Alexander Ludwig, Kate del Castillo, Joe Pantoliano, Charles Melton, Paola Núñez, Nicky Jam, DJ Khaled.

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Tyler Perry's 'A Fall From Grace' Cast Talks The Film's Lessons In Life And Love

Love can truly be an emotional rollercoaster. When it's high, it feels beautifully warm. But when it's low, it can become really cold and dark. The enactment of the latter can be seen in Tyler Perry's upcoming Netflix film, A Fall From Grace.

While feeling disheartened after discovering her ex-husband's affair, new divorcee Grace Waters played by Crystal Fox (The Haves and Have Nots) finds herself alone and lonely. With encouragement from her best friend Sarah Miller (Phylicia Rashad), she goes out to an event where she meets what she thought to be the love of her life which she soon finds to be her biggest nightmare.

Perry plays an obnoxious defense lawyer (Rory) with no intention of doing much defending and instead adamantly insists that his prodigy Jasmine (Bresha Webb) push for a plea deal. But after meeting Waters, Jasmine isn’t so sure about her guilty admission and suspects foul play. When curiosity meets persistence, the film takes you on a journey of unveiling plot twists that will have you on the edge of your seat guessing hard about how the story will end.

VIBE chatted with the actors behind these characters to talk about love and relationships and the importance of being aware.

"Keep your heart open but keep your eyes open, too; Watch out for red flags," said the film's writer, director, and producer. "Keep your heart open. Love yourself before you look for somebody else to love you, and remember that grace is over you and in you," added leading lady Fox.

When asked what they hope viewers walk away with after watching the crime drama film, Webb pointed out: "I feel like as well as being on the edge of your seat and [while] you're watching it and you're being lost in the drama, also leave with a knowledge of knowing what this movie encompasses together."

Legendary actress Rashad concluded, "I think it's always great for me as an artist when an audience can walk away feeling satisfied, yes? But also reflective of what they've experienced and continue to reflect on the experience."

Ultimately, this movie is a must-see and what is said to be Tyler Perry's best work. A Fall From Grace hits streaming platforms Friday, January 17 on Netflix.

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Issa Rae And Kumail Nanjiani Are 'Lovebirds' Turned Investigators In Upcoming Film

Issa Rae’s 2020 is shaping up to be a blockbuster year. The California native will star in a new film out this April where every twist and turn is full of action.

On Thursday (Jan. 16), the trailer for her latest movie The Lovebirds, co-starring Kumail Nanjiani (Hot Tub Time Machine 2), pits the budding couple at the center of a murder they didn’t commit. When they decide what to do about the dead person, two bystanders phone the police and give them Rae and Nanjiani’s description. The pair then set out on a hunt for the real suspect(s) as they dodge law enforcement’s grasp.

Once the trailer was released, a few Twitter users expressed their excitement and happiness that they're receiving more film and television content featuring Rae.

WHAT I completely missed that Aaron Abrams co-wrote The Lovebirds, #fannibalfamily we've got what looks like a super fun movie to see.

— Alana Bloom's Wardrobe (@EthicsAesthetic) January 16, 2020

Lovebirds gonna be the funniest/ best movie 2020 @IssaRae 😂😂😂 that trailer had me fucking dying dawg

— Slickk (@_Slickk22) January 16, 2020

@IssaRae has two movies coming out this year and i definitely plan on watching them both ; The Lovebirds & The Photograph. They both look great & Insecure coming back on... hopefully we getting 1 hr episodes sis? pic.twitter.com/Y7phXN0O0Q

— 🐉 (@JohnyLovely_) January 16, 2020

I've seen two trailers with @IssaRae in romantic movies with a POC male lead and I'm so happy about it.

It's The Lovebirds and The Photograph.

— Kristen Squire (@kristensquire) January 16, 2020

Season 4 & new movies 😭😭😭😭 @IssaRae just ... thank you. #lovebirds #ThePhotographMovie

— Daryle-Kennedy (@itsdaryle) January 16, 2020

Presented by Paramount Pictures and MRC Film, The Lovebirds debut in theaters April 3. Watch the trailer above.

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