(CNN) — Anger and activism, life and death, and finally hope defined the third and final season of FX’s “Pose,” the Ryan Murphy-produced drama devoted to New York’s underground ball culture in the 1980s and ’90s. Having created an unprecedented showcase for transgender performers, the show — whose final episode focused on leaving a legacy — left its own in terms of its symbolic significance and standout cast.After a wedding in the penultimate episode, the extra-long finale turned back to the AIDS diagnosis of Pray Tell (Billy Porter), who was told his condition had reached “the beginning of the end” before his friend Blanca (Mj Rodriguez), a nurse, learned about clinical trials of protease inhibitors from another patient.Those life-prolonging treatments, however, were overwhelmingly being earmarked for White patients, prompting Blanca to fight back against the discrimination toward people of color
After visiting his estranged family earlier in the season, Pray Tell spent much of the finale dealing with his ball family, telling Blanca, “I want to be remembered as a representation of all that the balls can be.”
Their triumphant joint Diana Ross routine essentially served as his last hurrah, sacrificing himself to save another, followed by Blanca’s emotional meeting with Pray Tell’s mother (Anna Maria Horsford) in a touching collision of those two worlds.
The narrative then jumped forward two years, providing both an opportunity to riff (amusingly) about “Sex and the City” and to underscore that Pray Tell’s memory — his legacy — had indeed survived, with Blanca flashing back to a first-season encounter as she counseled a new house trying to make its way in the ball scene.
“Pose” was at its best back then, earning Porter an Emmy for best actor in a drama. The final season — a slightly disjointed seven episodes, several of them super-sized — derived much of its strength from the Pray Tell plot, and the campaign surrounding the hospital’s inequity (“Healthcare is a right!” the protesters chanted) connected the ACT UP movement to concerns that remain prominent today.
Created by Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals, “Pose” represented an admirable effort to highlight stories of LGBTQ life and history, something Murphy has emphasized under his Netflix deal in various genres, including his remake of the movie “The Boys and the Band,” the limited series “Hollywood” and “Halston,” and the documentaries “A Secret Love” and “Circus of Books.”
During a press conference before the season began, the producers stressed that the show was ending on their terms, with Canals saying about the decision, “I could see the ending … and it made sense to land the plane comfortably.”In an era where the usual tendency is for shows to stick around beyond their expiration date, credit “Pose” with recognizing the right time to make an exit.
Netflix has dropped the first trailer for Monster, a film adapted from the classic Walter Dean Myers novel of the same name. The film first premiered way back in January 2018 and had an extended festival run, a name change (it was once known as All Rise) and a prior acquisition announcement by Entertainment Studios.
The stacked cast is led by Kelvin Harrison Jr., before his star-making turns in Waves and Luce. It also features Jennifer Hudson, Jeffrey Wright, a pre-When They See Us Jharrel Jerome, a pre-BlacKkKlansman John David Washington, Jennifer Ehle, Tim Blake Nelson, Nas and A$AP Rocky.
Directed and written by acclaimed music video director Anthony Mandler, the screenplay is from Radha Blank (The Forty-Year-Old Version, Colen C. Wiley and Janece Shaffer.
The logline: Monster tells the story of Steve Harmon (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) a seventeen-year-old honor student whose world comes crashing down around him when he is charged with felony murder. The film follows his dramatic journey from a smart, likeable film student from Harlem attending an elite high school through a complex legal battle that could leave him spending the rest of his life in prison.
Harrison, an in-demand star on the indie and festival circuit, told Shadow And Act back in 2018 that Steve was one of the hardest characters he’s had to play. “Steve in Monster is probably the hardest to play, because I was learning so much about myself growing up,” he said.“It’s hard to look back on your life at 17 and how you may have been. Steve comes from this privileged home and has a lot of opportunity. Then things happened, and he thought he was an anomaly in a world where black boys are incarcerated or killed because of the way they look. The hardest part is just really digging deep in yourself and coming into your own realities and then separating from the character so you can tell their stories truthfully.”
BRON Studios, ToniK Productions and Get Lifted Film Co. are the movies’ producers, in association with Charlevoix, Red Crown and Creative Wealth Media. Tonya Lewis Lee, Nikki Silver, Aaron L. Gilbert, Mike Jackson, and Edward Tyler Nahem produced the film.
John Legend, Ty Stiklorius, Dan Crown, Yoni Liebling, Wright and Jones are executive producers, alongside Brenda Gilbert, Steven Thibault, Brad Feinstein, Joseph F. Ingrassia, Ali Jazayeri, David Gendron, Linnea Roberts, Jason Cloth, and Richard McConnell.
FX has dropped the first trailer for the third and final season of Pose. The network announced in March that shortened, seven-episode season would be its last.
Upon its debut, the series made television history in its first season by featuring the largest-ever cast of transgender actors in series regular roles, including Michaela Jaé, Dominique Jackson, Indya Moore and Hailie Sahar, who star alongside Billy Porter, Dyllón Burnside, Angel Bismark Curiel, Sandra Bernhard and Jason A. Rodriguez. Pose also features “the largest recurring cast of LGBTQ actors ever for a scripted series, and boasts a full roster of LGBTQ and POC behind-the-scenes as producers, writers, directors and crew.”
For the series, Billy Porter became the first openly gay man to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, and Janet Mock becoming the first trans woman of color hired as a writer on a TV series, as well as the first transgender woman of color to write and direct a TV episode.
The official description for season 3: In this final season, it’s now 1994 and ballroom feels like a distant memory for Blanca who struggles to balance being a mother with being a present partner to her new love, and her latest role as a nurse’s aide. Meanwhile, as AIDS becomes the leading cause of death for Americans ages 25 to 44, Pray Tell contends with unexpected health burdens. Elsewhere, the emergence of a vicious new upstart house forces the House of Evangelista members to contend with their legacy.
The new season premieres May 2 on FX. Watch the trailer below:
Lifetime continues its streak of biopics with Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia, which premieres April 3 at 8 p.m. ET. Orange Is The New Black alum Danielle Brooks stars as Mahalia Jackson, who is one of the most revered gospel figures in U.S. history. The film, executive produced by Robin Roberts, chronicles Mahalia’s rise to fame and her impact on the music industry and the civil rights movement.
Mahalia lived an incredible life and had so many memorable moments. Decades after her death, her legacy remains more vibrant than ever. Get to know Mahalia before the Lifetime movie airs.
Trauma — the damage done to a people through acts of violence, whether in a moment during a massacre or over a prolonged period of oppression — is a thread running through many of the international features competing in this year’s Oscar race: The raw horror of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in Jasmila Zbanic’s Quo Vadis, Aida?, from Bosnia and Herzegovina; the all-but-forgotten 1962 Soviet state massacre of striking factory workers in Russia’s Dear Comrades!, from director Andrei Konchalovsky; the hidden horror, and thirst for revenge for unpunished atrocities, that seeps through Jayro Bustamante’s genre tale La Llorona, Guatemala’s official Oscar entry; Philippe Lacôte’s Night of the Kings for Ivory Coast that struggles to find meaning in the violent legacy of colonialism and more recent political upheavals through a combination of storytelling techniques both Western and traditional; and Kaouther Ben Hania’s The Man Who Sold His Skin, for Tunisia, which takes as its central theme the exploitation of Syrian refugees, even the exploitation of their trauma itself.
It’s notable that this year’s International Feature Oscar shortlist does not include any films on the Holocaust, the central trauma of the 20th century. It’s a rare exception. The Nazi genocide of European Jews, or its traumatic aftermath, is the subject of such Oscar winners as Son of Saul (Hungary, 2015), Ida (Poland, 2014), The Counterfeiters (Austria, 2007) and Nowhere in Africa (Germany, 2002). Instead, this year’s contenders look at national stories that have been largely forgotten or passed over despite their very real and continuing impact on their people and societies left behind.
It was 25 years ago that Bosnian Serbs, led by Gen. Ratko Mladic, gathered up 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys near the town of Srebrenica, bused them to killing sites, shot them and dumped the bodies into mass graves. U.N. peacekeeping troops did nothing. Zbanic, whose 2006 Oscar-nominated debut, Grbavica, examined the aftermath of the massacre — in particular the mass rape of Muslim women by Bosnian Serb soldiers — goes directly to the source with Quo Vadis, Aida? The film tracks the horrific events as seen through the eyes of a Bosnian translator (played by Serbian actress Jasna Djuricic), as she tries to push the U.N. commanders to intervene while racing against time to save her husband and two sons from the coming slaughter. There have been endless hours of documentary and newsreel footage about Srebrenica. There has been a criminal trial of Mladic — who in 2017 was sentenced to life imprisonment for genocide and crimes against humanity— but Quo Vadis, Aida? has become the definitive film of this European tragedy.
The 1962 Novocherkassk massacre was not covered by CNN. The shootings of peaceful striking factory workers by the Soviet state police — estimates vary, but at least 26 protesters were killed and perhaps as many as 87 wounded — were wiped from Russia’s official history. The cover-up began immediately after the killings, when Moscow imposed a nationwide news blackout. The story remained hidden until 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Konchalovsky reflects that sense of censored memory in Dear Comrades! by shooting his movie in the style of the elliptical, state-approved Soviet films of the period, complete with a tacked-on, deliberately hollow happy ending. Like Quo Vadis, Aida?, it tells its traumatic tale through the eyes of a determined, relentless woman: loyal Soviet apparatchik Lyudmila (Julia Vysotskaya), a faithful Stalinist who initially sees the strikers as traitors to the state, before the guns start firing. In his Oscar contender, Guatemalan director Bustamante looks at the state massacre of ethnic Mayan civilians in the 1980s (also known as the Silent Holocaust) by reinterpreting the folktale of a vengeful spirit — The Weeping Woman, or La Llorona — into a cry for social justice. In the original tale, the ghost is the guilty one — a mother who drowns her two children and is cursed to walk the world mourning them.
Bustamante turns her into a vengeful spirit, haunting the guilty conscience of Enrique Monteverde (Julio Diaz), on trial for crimes of genocide committed against the Mayan peasants when he was president. Monteverde is a stand-in for real-life former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, who was indicted for genocide but pardoned by Guatemala’s Constitutional Court. In La Llorona, unlike in real life, Mayan victims get to confront the general and bring him to task for his crimes against humanity. As with this year’s Russian and Bosnian entries, the heart of Guatemala’s Oscar hopeful is its strong women, foremost María Mercedes Coroy as the vengeful spirit and Sabrina De La Hoz as the aging general’s disenchanted daughter. Men — a Syrian refugee and inmates of an Ivory Coast prison — are center stage in the two African contenders for best international feature. Both films — Ben Hania’s The Man Who Sold His Skin and Lacôte’s Night of the Kings — take a complex approach to telling stories of national trauma. Sam Ali (Yahya Mahayni) is a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon and desperate to travel to Europe to reunite with his lover, Abeer (Dea Liane). In desperation, he enters a Faustian pact: agreeing to let an artist use Sam’s back as a human canvas for an enormous tattoo of a Schengen visa, the document needed to gain entry into Europe. As an actual piece of art and a working commodity, Sam is free to travel across borders, something not possible for Sam the human being. Part political commentary, part moral satire on the art industry, The Man Who Sold His Skin is also a knowing critique of how stories of trauma — like this movie itself — themselves exploit the suffering of the people they depict.
Lacôte’s Night of the Kings is perhaps the most complex film on the Oscar shortlist. Set in Ivory Coast’s infamous La Maca prison, it is a modern-day One Thousand and One Nights. Like Scheherazade, a new prisoner called Roman (Bakary Koné) is tasked with inventing a tale that will keep his audience of fellow criminals captivated until the morning light or face execution. What follows is an intoxicating hybrid of storytelling styles, with Lacôte borrowing from Shakespeare and cinema — Fernando Meirelles’ Brazilian crime drama City of God is name-checked — and combining them with the oral tradition of the West African griot, in which history is told through narrative, music, poetry and dance. Roman’s story knits together the personal and the political. Lacôte at one point splices in clips of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, whose refusal to accept electoral defeat in 2011 plunged the country into violence. What emerges is the narrative of a man and, by extension, a nation struggling to survive and to overcome the damage of the distant and recent past. As with all the tales of trauma on this year’s International Feature shortlist, the fight is as much about the story as about who gets to tell it. READ MORE: https://apple.news/ANBsEMcsvT4y9XQ795ZR2GA
“Judas and the Black Messiah” opened on HBO Max last weekend and I’m not gonna bother with a formal review of the film because you can find those anywhere, and because “Judas” is already on its way to amassing a stockpile of award show trophies that a dragon could comfortably rest upon. Most of those trophies, including an Oscar, are gonna be handed out because of this man, Daniel Kaluuya:
You might remember Kaluuya from his breakout role in Jordan Peele’s “Get Out.” Kaluuya got nominated for Best Actor for “Get Out,” and holy s—t did he deserve it. I remember I spent the entirety of that movie terrified for poor Chris. I also remember that when Kaluuya didn’t win Best Actor that year (fellow Brit Gary Oldman got it for playing Winston Churchill), it was okay because anyone who saw Kaluuya’s performance knew he’d be nominated for many, many other roles afterward. Three years later, after sharing the bill for “Widows” and for “Black Panther,” he’s delivered a performance in “Judas and the Black Messiah” that fulfills all of that promise, and far beyond. I saw the trailer for “Judas,” featuring Kaluuya spewing hellfire and brimstone as civil rights legend Fred Hampton, and I was like, “Oh yeah, I’m watching that. He’s gonna kick ass.”
I did and he did. Kaluuya is gonna be back at the Oscars this year, and he’s gonna win that s—t this time around. Because “Judas and the Black Messiah” proves that he’s the best goddamn actor on Earth right now.
Now, Warner Bros. submitted Kaluuya in the supporting actor category for “Judas,” because his “Get Out” co-star LaKeith Stanfield plays the spiritual lead (and is REALLY good) as FBI informant William O’Neal. But “Judas” belongs to Kaluuya’s Fred Hampton.
Hampton was the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers. His name and his story were completely unfamiliar to me before I started watching Judas. This is because I’m ignorant, and because American schools were far too stingy back in my childhood, and remain so, about allowing nonwhite material into the curriculum. Hampton’s story should be taught. This movie should be taught. And perhaps it will be, because the force of Kaluuya’s performance all but demands it.
You can’t take your eyes off of Daniel Kaluuya. Even in the tender scenes Kaluuya shares with love interest Dominique Fishback, his presence still bleeds off the screen. If Kaluuya spent the rest of his life in character AS Fred Hampton, I would vote him for president. I would pay him money to come to my town, give a speech as Fred and get everyone so fired up they could run through a god damn brick wall. I would like an expanded Fred Hampton Cinematic Universe.
In fact, that’s not far enough. I would like Daniel Kaluuya to be in EVERY movie now. Usually, when you go to an actor’s IMDb page, they have 900 future projects in development, half of which make you wince in anticipation. Kaluuya has just one: a Netflix adaptation of the science fiction novel “The Upper World.” I do not trust Netflix to make this show good — Netflix is like if you went to a brick-and-mortar Blockbuster store and everything in it sucked — but I do trust Kaluuya to play the hell out of his character.
He’s also due to star in “Black Panther 2,” and if they choose to make W’Kabi the next Black Panther (Marvel has already said that they will not recast the late Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, but will find another character to assume the mantle of the Black Panther; now you know as much as the rest of us do about it), you won’t see me complain. This world requires a massive Kaluuya stimulus. Democrats should send every household at least 2,000 Kaluuyas, and not a piddly-s—t 1,400. Hollywood should spin off his tinyass “Sicario” character and make good movies with that character instead of making garbage like “Sicario 2,” which looked like it was produced by Vince McMahon. Make Kaluuya the next Bond. Give him a standalone “Star Wars” franchise that Kathleen Kennedy is barred from ruining. Actually, you know what? F—k “Star Wars.” Daniel Kaluuya is too good for “Star Wars.” Keep Kaluuya away from “Star Wars” and make him Ahab instead. Make him Ellison’s “Invisible Man.” Make him Holden Caulfield. Make him Dracula. Make him “JAWS.”
Better yet, make Daniel Kaluuya a character no one has seen or heard of before. This man is part of a breakout mainstream movement in Black cinema that’s the newest, best thing coming out of Hollywood right now. Kaluuya is proof that the movement is already producing more exciting work than the incessant IP-humping that constitutes the bulk of studio products.
This man is not only talented, but he’s also got the juice to keep pushing Hollywood out of its deadened comfort zone. F—k, I’d pay to watch Daniel Kaluuya read the transcript of an investment firm’s Zoom call. I don’t care. Great actors elevate bad material and consecrate great material. That’s what Daniel Kaluuya can do. There’s no stopping him. There’s no need to try. Give him every Oscar, and then get out of his way.
After showcasing our fierce 15 last year, Billboard runs the table back and presents this year’s Hip-Hop/R&B Artists to watch Class of 2021.
Last year, Billboard watched a bevy of rookies take a leap forward and graduate into stardom. Rod Wave, Jack Harlow, and Don Toliver’s chart dominance helped solidify their standing in the hip-hop game while R&B singer Kaash Paige exuded promise on her sizzling debut. Along with standout campaigns in 2020, the hip-hop community mourned the losses of Brooklyn’s Pop Smoke and Chicago’s King Von, as both stars were victims of gun violence. With 2021 currently in session, a new breed of neophytes looks to cause a stir. After showcasing our fierce 15 last year, Billboard runs the table back and presents this year’s Hip-Hop/R&B Artists to watch Class of 2021. Check out our list below.
In 2020, Blxst rocketed to success when fans unwrapped his eight-track project No Love Lost. The Cali polymath doesn’t shy away from messy topics, working through heartbreak and relationship woes with elastic ease. Fortunately, Blxst doesn’t allow his losses to define him, as he proves to be a slithery Casanova on “Wrong or Right,” “Overrated” and “Be Alone.” His skill for hitmaking shines on the project’s deluxe edition, as he recruits West Coast all-stars Dom Kennedy (“Got It All”) and Ty Dolla $ign and Tyga (“Chosen”) for his daily escapades. — CARL LAMARRE