Something Just Right

SOMETHING OLD

somethingnew_6Something New (SN) challenges the old way of thinking that we should “stick with our own.” This is not a stereotypical interracial comedy like Guess Who, where there is no development of characters or the deep-rooted issues of dating “outside your race.” SN is an endearing love story that touches on the realistic struggles of dating interracially. I was skeptical on whether to include SN into our Black Love Fest, but SN details factual challenges from the perspective of a black woman. Kenya (Sanaa Lathan) is a senior accountant. She is obsessive-compulsive, neurotic, and complex. She works hard but plays little. Her main social life is with her besties: Judge – Cheryl (Wendy Raquel Robinson), Pediatrician – Suzette (Golden Brooks), and Banker – Nedra (Taraji P. Henson). They get together often and school each other on looking for an IBM (Ideal Black Man). They make a pact to, “Let it go, and let it flow.” Their mantra sets off a chain of new experiences such as Kenya going on a blind date.

SOMETHING NEW

somethingnew_7Something new can be a serendipitous experience. But it can also make us vulnerable and fearful of the unknown. Kenya accepts a blind date with a landscaper, Brian (Simon Baker). They meet at a Starbucks in L.A.. Kenya is so shocked and uncomfortable by Brian being white that she abruptly ends their date. Later, she unexpectedly sees Brian at a dinner party of their mutual friend. She discovers that Brian did the beautiful landscaping. I love when Brian tells her, “If you’re ever ready, call me.” This definitely has a double meaning. Kenya only agrees that he can be her landscaper after he sends her a copy of Charlotte’s Web. Charlotte is crossed out and replaced by “Kenya’s Web” after a “spider incident” at the nursery. It is during an unplanned and unwanted hike that they share a kiss. Kenya loses herself in the kiss until she realizes whom she is kissing. She is disturbed and asks to be taken home. When Brian drops her off she tries to get rid of him, but he starts to kiss her against the wall. His hands are all over her. He takes charge and they make passionate love, which is followed by an endearing pillow talk scene where he caresses and kisses her face. He unfortunately ruins it by asking her if can she take her hair off. That is a “hell no” with black women who wear weaves. He said he was just wondering what she looks like completely naked, but she was pissed, and kicked him out.

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Something New (2006)

somethingnew_1Starring Sanaa Lathan, Simon Baker, Blair Underwood, Donald Faison, Alfre Woodard, Earl Billings, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Katharine Towne, Stanley DeSantis, Mike Epps, Julie Mond, Lee Garlington

Directed by Sanaa Hamri

Expectations: Moderate.

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Something New begins with a picture-perfect wedding — until the blaring sound of an alarm shatters the peace! Turns out it was only a dream for our main character, Kenya McQueen (Sanaa Lathan), a workaholic accountant for a major Los Angeles firm. She simply doesn’t have the time for a relationship, and even if she did, there isn’t a guy she’s met that can stack up against “The List,” AKA all the things Kenya just won’t do or tolerate in a man.

But her loneliness is strong, so after the prodding of her girlfriends, she decides to agree to her co-worker’s offer of setting up Kenya on a blind date. But she never expected her date to be Brian (Simon Baker), a white landscape architect that ticks off just about every negative on Kenya’s list. What Something New does exceptionally well is walk the line between interracial cultural drama and romantic comedy, painting its story and characters with equal swaths of both. This makes for a film that is always entertaining and charming, as well as thought-provoking.

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Mini-Review: Think Like a Man (2012)

Think-Like-A-Man-poster-1Starring Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Jenkins, Jenifer Lewis, Romany Malco, Gary Owen, Gabrielle Union, La La Anthony

Directed by Tim Story

Expectations: High. I have it on good authority that this is funny.

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I don’t have much to say about Think Like a Man. It’s well-made, funny and engaging. It’s easily one of the best and most interesting modern romantic comedies I’ve seen in a while (not that I make it a habit to see that many). This could be that the male focus of the film led me to care more about the relationships at hand, but I think it’s more to do with the structure of the film. Instead of one relationship getting all the screen-time, Think Like a Man charts the course of several relationships at once, so at all times there is something new happening with our fun, interesting characters.

Due to this wide focus, the film’s relationships aren’t that complex and they’re somewhat unbelievable, but it’s a romantic comedy so whatever. It’s not about depth and believability, it’s about making you laugh and making you feel a swell of romance in the key moments. And Think Like a Man does that really, really well. The writing is especially snappy, and the entire cast performs admirably. It’s a shame that I don’t really know who many of the actors and actresses in this movie are, and hopefully that will change going forward. It was a treat to see so many positive black characters in one movie, complete with a token white guy! I loved that. It’s a total reversal of traditional Hollywood film casting, and I wish more mainstream films would echo that. The US is rather multiracial, doncha know.

Like all romantic comedies, it does fall into the formulaic trap of being obvious and ending just as you guessed it would at its outset. But where that might usually bother me, I was so taken with the characters and the quality of the comedy that I didn’t mind one bit. I think I finally understand how all the similar romantic comedies continue to do so well: if you connect with the film’s journey then its formula doesn’t matter. I guess that’s the same for all genre films, but for some reason I never considered it an option with romantic comedies. You learn something new every day.

Don’t worry, though, I’m not going to change the focus of Silver Emulsion to a chronological examination of the romantic comedy (although I have to admit, that does sound rather enticing to me), but I will definitely go into future romantic comedy films with a different mindset. Who knows, maybe I’ll become a big fan of them yet.

The Karate Kid (2010)

The Karate Kid (2010)
AKA The Kung Fu Dream [in Chinese markets]

Starring Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson, Wang Zhenwei, Yu Rong-Guang, Han Wen Wen, Xu Ming, Wang Ji, Luke Carberry

Directed by Harald Zwart

Expectations: Low.


I hadn’t planned to watch this, but the opportunity presented itself without any effort on my part and I took the bullet so you guys wouldn’t have to if you didn’t want to. The story here follows the same basic beats as the original: Mother and boy move a great distance to a new place where bullies thrive and said boy resorts to learning martial arts from the maintenance man, who has a way of teaching through everyday tasks. Thankfully this version of the film doesn’t try to emulate the same tasks, instead inventing a “Put on the jacket, Take off the jacket” thing that actually works pretty well despite my best intentions to hate it. When Jackie Chan finally decides to unleash the martial power of this seemingly minor act, the resulting scene is pretty enjoyable and is probably the best in the film.

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