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Review: 'Tomb Raider' Causes A (Tiny) Ripple In The Case For Women's Empowerment

Upon viewing the highly anticipated reboot of Tomb Raider: Lara Croft (Mar. 16), the lack of women characters left me yearning for more.

*Note: Minor spoilers ahead.*

Upon viewing the highly anticipated reboot of Tomb Raider: Lara Croft (Mar. 16), the lack of women characters left a deep yearning for more. Yes, the movie is a reboot of 2001’s original Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie, which was inspired by the ubiquitous video game that was created off the strength of a singular woman’s prowess. Albeit, the wish was always to see more than just one girl in the room. Throughout the film, there were many fight scenes where it would've been awesome to see Lara accompanied by a fierce group of women—like with Black Panther's Dora Milaje, the fearless army that protects Wakanda.

However, it's worth noting that Tomb Raider still has a great legacy of casting strong female leads. Director Simon West's decision to select Jolie was stellar, but it was something that didn't come easy—he had to persistently coax Paramount Pictures to hire her because of her reputation. "She spoke her mind, and she had a notorious reputation. It was quite hard for me to get her through the approval process at the studio, because I wanted an actress who was going to bring something to the part, and she brought this great Angelina Jolie mythology with her as this dark, crazy, wicked woman with a very particular and interesting personality," West told Entertainment Weekly. "I wanted that mythology of Angelina Jolie to fuse with Lara Croft."

A mere 17 years later after the original film, it’s Swedish actress Alicia Vikander's turn to knock Lara's one-woman show out of the park. And she does, under the limitations of the film's rapid-fire transitions and anemic script. Still, her presence (like Jolie’s) is required in today’s socio-political climate—especially with tinsel town's habit of mistreating women. We need to get comfortable seeing women in positions of power on and off the screen.

@tombraidermovie

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Inside a Warner Bros. conference room in New York City, British actress Hannah John-Kamen, who plays Lara’s best friend, Sophie, echoes these sentiments. “100 percent you have to get used to seeing women in power, and I think definitely it’s what the movie industry is incorporating, especially with strong female leads,” she said. “You have Wonder Woman this year, and having Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. It shouldn’t feel uncomfortable and it shouldn’t be abnormal, different or an anomaly to see a strong powerful female lead, so I think it’s the right step forward.”

It's a step forward that allows women to experiment with action roles and take cinematic risks that might set them back. Bustle highlights this notion where Olivia Truffaut Wong writes, "In the past, the ability to fail in Hollywood was a privilege traditionally saved for men. Just look at Armie Hammer, who survived the badly-reviewed The Lone Ranger and The Man from U.N.C.L.E to become a movie star."

Female empowerment aside, more could have been done with Tomb Raider’s plot to back up the action. When we first meet Lara, she fits the lost rich girl narrative. She chose the struggle life, sought adventure and found herself instead of spending her trust fund. She’s a boxer and works as a bike messenger in the streets of London. Against her advisor’s wishes, she goes on a quest in Asia to find her billionaire father (Dominic West) where he fled to chase down a Japanese mythical goddess.

Lara treks off to Hong Kong to meet a drunk captain (Daniel Wu) and coaxes him to take her to the mysterious land. She fights off villains, hangs from a cliff positioned in the midst of a waterfall reminiscent of Niagara Falls and continues to fight. She ends up finding her dad but is forced to leave him again. Directed by Roar Uthaug, the film presents a story about a girl with daddy issues. In the end, we’re not sure if she finds a solution to them. Yet her tough demeanor and high flying stunts are appreciated.

While Tomb Raider's plot could have been more colorful and dotted with other female heroes or villains, it works in opening the door for more women to try their hand at action films in general. Let's hope this space keeps widening for more than just one major role in action films; in both the fantasy and real worlds.

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Anderson .Paak's Grammy Glow Lights Up New York's Hammerstein Ballroom

"I told y'all I would come back but I had to come back with a motherf***in Grammy yo!" Anderson .Paak belted to the crowd inside of New York's Hammerstein Ballroom. On Friday (Feb. 22), the musician was elated to return to New York for his Andy's Beach Club World Tour with opening act Tayla Parx and his band, the Free Nationals. His energy has unsurprisingly remained on a thrilling high since taking home his first Grammy just three weeks ago.

The Cali native was a breath of fresh air for the crowd in attendance, who after a long work week was ready to hear some tunes from his stellar albums Venice, Malibu and his recent musical offering, Oxnard.

.Paak was that jukebox for the crowd, with select bubbly tunes from Parx, who just like her main act, has a funky vibe to herself. Parx, an artist who most recently wrote on Ariana Grande's "Thank U, Next" as she told the crowd got the energy bubbling with known covers and performances of her songs like, "Mama Aint Raise No B****." Parx set up the funky vibes that .Paak would go on to later execute and perfect.

The musician jumped out on stage an hour and a half later and started his heading set with the song, "Bubblin" that earned him a Best Rap Performance Grammy.

From the jump, his megawatt smile peaked under his red bucket hat as he performed more deserving tunes like "Tints," "Trippy" and "Come Down."

 

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flashing.. lights.. 🔦

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His bliss of just being in the moment was abundantly clear as well as his chemistry with the Free Nationals. He danced along to their song "Beauty & Essex" featuring Daniel Caesar, grooving to the smooth beat while transitioning to "Saviers Road."

There was not a moment in the night that skilled drummer wasn't in tune with the crowd. At one point, he even crowd surfed, calling out New Jersey natives to catch him. Because of his old soul, the musician easily crafted his flavor of soul and funk to keep body rolls going throughout the evening with cuts like "Smile/Petty" and "The Heart Don't Stand a Chance."

Although his drum solos showed off his musical talent and capabilities, .Paak's tribute to late rapper, Mac Miller with a performance of their song "Dang!" towards the end of the concert is what really sealed the deal.

"If you miss Mac Miller like we miss Mac Miller make some f***ing noise! Say we love you Mac, say we miss you Mac," the Oxnard musician urged the crowd to yell, and the crowd obediently obliged.

Seeing the crowd and .Paak arrived in sync one last time for Miller was the finishing touch for the concert. Although .Paak's crowd demo was young working adults, they won't forget the moment they shed their corporate garb to be a little weird and carefree again.

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The “Necessity Of Expression,” As Explained By Jacob Banks

Jacob Banks is pressed for time. With just a few hours before his headlining show at New York’s massive Brooklyn Steele, the Nigerian-born, Birmingham, UK-raised artist has gone all day without so much as a bite to eat. “Can we make it 10 minutes, 15 tops for the interview?” his tour manager asks. “It’s been a crazy day. He still has meet-n-greets and hasn’t eaten yet.”

Seconds later, Banks emerges from a backdoor inside the Williamsburg venue. He smiles and offers hugs, possibly sensing a brewing push-and-pull between press and a protective handler. He quickly diffuses potential rising tensions by giving an OK to his camp and escorting me into a tiny greenroom.

“Just do your thing,” Banks says at the onset of the interview. The irony of his statement is that I, and the rest of the nearly 2,000-person crowd, chose to spend their Friday night watching him do his.

On stage, the 27-year-old is a behemoth. Standing at 6-foot-4, he never scowls nor grins at the audience during his songs. Instead, his eyes are focused and his face, stoic. It’s intentional and penetrative. Mr. Banks and the mandem—Danny his guitarist, HB his drummer and bass player, and musical director Smoove—are there purely to serve the moment. You bought a ticket? Cool. Jacob & Co. are there to deliver.

 

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NYC, the gang and I are ever so grateful, thank you so much 🌹 Boston, let’s show out tonight 🚀

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However, before the night’s performance, and in the midst of choreographed chaos backstage, Banks is chill, soft-spoken and full. Not full of himself, but full of experience, which translates to a gentle but firm assurance. He crosses his legs while he sits and adjusts his glasses from time to time when they slide down the bridge of his nose. That fullness allows for him to have great empathy, a byproduct of the many villages he says raised him.

“I was raised by culture: African culture, Caribbean culture, youth British culture, which is Caribbean culture,” he says. “I was raised by the streets. I was raised by the nerds. I was raised by cartoons. I was raised by happily ever afters and real life tragic endings as well.”

Speaking of those very cultures, there’s a knock at the door. His food has arrived. “What did you have?” his tour manager questions. Take a gander at Banks’ Twitter profile and you’ll read that he considers himself a jerk chicken connoisseur. However, someone else will be partaking in his beloved dish. Tonight, Banks is having the curry, while the oxtail will go to another famished member of the tour. How the British entertainer was able to get authentic Jamaican dishes in Williamsburg is equal parts impressive and mind boggling, but I digress. There are more important things to dive into right now.

Banks released his debut album Village via Interscope in November 2018 and to celebrate, he played FIFA at home with his two cats. For the singer-songwriter, music is “purely a necessity of expression” that he doesn’t let get to his head. “I have meticulously created a life where I don’t need that validation. I exist outside of music,” he says.

It’s odd to hear him speak so humbly about his art. As the night rolled in and fans stood eager to hear his robust voice, Banks performed songs from Village and his EPs The Paradox and The Boy Who Cried Freedom, which merited everything from a woman’s shrill “Sing daddy!” to the New York male equivalent “Yerrr!” from the diverse crowd.

The stand out moment of the night, however, came during his delivery of the pensive, almost spiritual “Slow Up.” Written as a note to himself that he wished he stayed younger for longer, Banks reflected on exactly when he knew he wasn’t a kid anymore: “What I've learnt from a mirror/Look too hard and you’ll find you a stranger/Love is just a decision/The choice is yours.”

“When I look back, I think I was eight. I remember thinking—well, obviously at the time I didn’t know, it was just life happening—but at eight I thought I have to be my own cheerleader,” he reflects. “I realized it wasn’t going to come from nowhere else.”

As Banks reached the second chorus of the triggering ballad, a growl from the deepest hollows of his belly emerged, setting the audience ablaze and prompting many to abandon their phones and inherit the vulnerability of the moment. At the close of the song, he hung onto the microphone and rested his head into the crease of his arm, almost spent from the effort of mentally referring to his adolescent self. In return, a chorus of applause came barreling toward the stage.

Banks’ voice is Thor’s hammer, a lightning strike against mediocre industry standards. The cacophony of car alarms you may suddenly hear outside of your window isn’t caused by a neighborhood perp. It’s because of Banks’ rich baritone, nothing more, beloved.

 

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Sang about Caroline in a cold locker room for you lot ❤️ Catch the full vibe on YouTube Another one courtesy of the wonderful humans at @youtubemusic #artistontherise Brought to by @wearenob0dy and @frmwrkldn

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When we’d almost forgotten our 15 minutes together were coming to a close, a prompt second knock at the door served as a gentle reminder. “We’ll take five more minutes. I was on the phone for a bit,” Banks lies to his publicist, Stefanie. There was no such call, but giving to the moment is what he does and if the moment needs more time, then so be it. There are more questions to ask the man of the moment.

I prod about the several drug references on standout tracks like “Mexico,” “Kumbaya,” “Nostalgia” and “Witness.” As a man who doesn’t drink or partake in substances, Banks says the lyrics (“You're so far away but when someone drops your name/You come pourin' through my veins/Like that Hollywood cocaine”) are less about a habit and more about needing a place to go.

“Drugs are in pop culture. I see it everywhere. It doesn’t bother me really. Do what you want, it’ll kill you, but do what you want,” he laughs. “Ultimately, I understand escapism. I understand needing a place to go. One can make the argument I’m addicted to expressing myself.”

He chats more about recognition versus representation and the importance of being seen but also realizing it’s not just important that you’re seen. But whether Jacob is visible or not, whether you hear his music or not, it’s still all good. He’s still G, as he’s often says, because Jacob made it so. Jacob will always be speaking his mind as Jacob, regardless.

“It was important for me that when my album came I didn’t let it define me,” he says. “I exist outside of Jacob Banks the artist,“ he said.

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A$AP Ferg (L) and A$AP Rocky attend A$AP Mob Yams Day 2019 at Barclays Center on January 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

Yams Day 2019 Was A Millennial Hypebeast's Wet Dream

It's somewhat fitting that the theme for the 2019 Yams Day is WWE wrestling. While it pays homage to the late Yams' favorite sport and pastime, it perfectly encapsulates today's concert culture for the millennial hypebeast.

After wading in the brisk weather of one of the colder Thursday's of Jan. 2019, 20-somethings and late 90s babies flocked to their assigned sections of Brooklyn's Barclays Center to pay tribute to the founder member and enjoy A$AP Rocky's "Injured Generation Tour."

The crowd is more salt than peppered, even more than a Lil Wayne concert. Puffer jackets decorate the rows of stadium chairs. And young clear girls donning cornrows, tube tops, cropped shirts, and a rainbow of colored, high-waisted camo pants weave in and out of the aisles. Boys in beanies, florescent skullcaps, and cross-body bags are seen down below migrating in huddles by the main stage and sub-arena masquerading as a wrestling ring. If you needed a gentle reminder of just how influential black culture can be, you found it here.

Rocky, the mob's fierce leader, encouraged the crowd to form a pit in the center of the venue. And just like WWE, a single spotlight highlights the pit as shirtless boys crash into one another, limbs failing and heads bobbing. It surely looks like it hurts, but as mentioned several times throughout the night, it's all for show, and for fun of course.

Each mosh is ricocheted off of one another so much so that from the lower level (which is actually one level above the floor), looked like a violent sea rolling up to shore.

The only thing keeping these kids up, besides the body of the person beside them, seems to be the revolving doors of performers which included a long list of ragers like Ski Mask the Slump God, Flatbush Zombies, Joey Bada$$, Metro Boomin, and of course A$AP Mob.

Weed fogs the air as fans light up to commemorate the fallen members of hip-hop. That includes more than Yams today, as XXXTentacion recently passed away in 2018. And it wouldn't be a night if someone didn't yell "Free Tekashi 6ix9ine." "No one deserves to be locked up," it was stated.

"Millennial" and "hypebeast" haven't always found the perfect harmony, but when they do it produces a unique experience. Black boy joy is one of the better products. A$AP Ferg and a variety of other friends and family partake in a fun-loving game of dance-tag, flinging their arms and bodies around as Lil Wayne and Swizz Beatz's "Uproar" cuts on. Other jams of the present and past like Crime Mob's "Knuck If You Buck" and Kendrick Lamar's "M.a.A.d city" also blast through the speakers, while the n-word echoes through the spot.

 

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$ummer $lam or #YamsDay? 😂

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Millennials are fearless. What's more courageous than the kids entering the pits of destruction, are the musical acts that run off the cliff of the stage into the audience. They are so certain their fans will catch them, they often dive head first, flipping into piles of extended arms.

The surprise guests of the night, Meek Mill and Soulja Boy, are perhaps the most trending acts in the social realm. Soulja Boy reenacts comedic interview from The Breakfast Club, reciting "Draakee" as he walks from one end of the stage to the next. Meek creates a "moment," performing "Dreams and Nightmares (Intro)."

 

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Bedtime is approaching but there's not a yawn in sight around this crew. If you're looking for the millennials, you can find them turning up at Barclays.

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