Brand New Ancients On Film – Part 1

Check out this poem/hip-hop video by English poet Kate Tempest. She blew me away with the music video idea for her poem and the quality production execution, LOVE IT!  I only just heard about Kate today when reading the NY Times review of her books “Hold Your Own” and “Brand New Ancients” -dubbed a “story-poem” by reviewer Michio Kakutani. Check out the video first, but definitely check out the review here: 

Brand New Ancients On Film – Part 1

Empire Episode 10 Recap

“Sins of the Father”


Photo Credit: Fox

“Sins of the Father” picks up with Dre’s story. After lastweek’s spectacular basketball ballet, he was bound to get himself committed.This week the episode opens with Dre in a cozy sweat suit sitting on anoverstuffed couch surrounded by family and the golden light of dozens ofburning candles, which struck me as an interesting choice since he is supposed
to be in a psyc ward.

The family’s there to support Dre and talk to his doctor.
Dre is mute. Cookie rejects the bi-polar diagnosis. Jamal and Hakeem cast
sympathetic glances and Lucious is a no-show. Enter Jennifer Hudson’s
character, Michelle White, who pitches the idea of music therapy to this
musical group. The irony? Dre doesn’t seem to particularly care about the music
part of the music biz, although as I write this I’m reminded of last week’s
“Lean on Me” moment between the brothers in the elevator and maybe, just maybe
I have to take the irony comment back.

What I enjoy about this episode the most is the character
development we get to see with Dre. He’s spent a lot of time being the
uncomfortable presence in the room. He’s fought for his father to really see
him, but Lucious has proved incapable of doing so thus far. This was made
poignantly clear in the first ‘sign of psychosis’ flashback during Dre’s
college years. We see he acts impulsively and aggressively when in the grips of
this disease. We also see his wife Rhonda when she was just his girlfriend. I
was so happy when, later in the episode, she blasted Lucious for misjudging her
as a country club rich girl. She should have pulled a Cookie and poked a long
nail in his face and called him BooBoo Kitty!

Meanwhile back at Empire headquarters Lucious is busy
working his Pinky and the Brain plan to take over the world. Although he’s more
Brain than Pinky, he has a Pinky-esque moment when he actually speaks on
marrying Cookie. ‘Scuse me?  Oh yeah and
Vernon’s there too, but sadly I’m starting to think his days might be numbered.
He knows what happened to Bunky and he won’t cease and desist from looking like
he needs to chew a whole roll of antacids when in Lucious’ company.

The show continues down the IPO-signing, Dre in hospital
route until Olivia reappears disembarking from a bus presumably from
out-of-town. As soon as her stilettos hit the ground a blast from her
not-so-distant past grabs her elbow steers her to the club where we see Vernon
pushing around some coke in a folded up piece of wax paper contemplating
whether or not to ruin his sobriety. Yes, I realize that’s a run-on sentence,
but I did that on purpose to illustrate how fast and confusing that piece of
the story is.

Later a disheveled Vernon barges into the boardroom interrupting
‘family’ night and ushering in Olivia and Reggie aka Scary Bird. Scary Bird
waves a gun around, Jamal quickly realizes Scary Bird is who Lola’s been
referring to when she says she’s scared and then Lucious drops the “I’m the
baby’s Pappy” routine, further alienating Cookie and his sons. No need for the
DNA test I’ve been requesting, Lucious is Lola’s father.

Random Thoughts (most reserved
for Hakeem and Camilla this week):

The Mary J Blige flashback is confusing because
she looks like a pre-jail Cookie. Was she Lucious’ client or an old girlfriend?

Will Jamal’s newfound big brother status with
Lola, rekindle his relationship with Ryan?

Cookie to Camilla and Hakeem “Y’all all

“We the
new Anthony and Cleopatra,” states Hakeem referring to him and Camilla. “Y’all know that’s a tragedy, you
know they die in the end, right?” quips Jamal…he’s my favorite.

I’m sorry “Age Ain’t Nothin’ but a Number” is
painful but Hakeem and Camilla seem proud. “The older the berry the sweeter the
juice…” was painful but funny. Oh for the days of “Drip Drop.” Note: I wrote
this before Hakeem later sang “Drip Drop” to Lola.

Nice to get a little more Camilla, but curious
why she left the country but didn’t take the money. Guess that was her showing
her love, but why go? Did I miss something? Tell me.

Who else thought Jennifer Hudson was going to
suggest carnal delights over prayer? Me too.

        Is that a Kara Walker painting in Lola’s room? Nice touch.

I can’t wait to see what happens in the two-hour finale!

Empire-Episode 9 Recap

“Unto the Breach”

photo credit: Fox

Over the past three episodes we’ve been treated to more of a
family versus business dynamic and I realize that’s the story I prefer to see.
“Unto the Breach” felt just like that, where is the story going? Empire is like
pizza, even when it’s bad it’s good. There is nothing that this show can do
that will make me stop watching, short of firing the cast, BUT this episode was
disjointed with sweet or fun moments sprinkled here and there.

This week’s episode was frenetic from the beginning: Cookie
busting in the house yelling for Lucious, bypassing the grandbaby (when will
there be a DNA test?) and then blowing up the spot about Anika’s Billy Baretti
ploy. I’m team Cookie all day, but her lines were a series of rapid fire,
ghetto one-liners that made her seem like a cast member on Bad Girls Club. The
scene just didn’t ring true. Regardless, Anika’s being found out by Lucious was

It was nice to see Anika get her come-uppance for once, but
I did find it strange that when she left Lucious’ house, Billy was sitting in
the backseat of the car. How did Anika call Billy to pick her up when Porsha
confiscated the phone? Also, she was ostensibly at home with Lucious to plan
their wedding so how Billy just pops up doesn’t make sense.

Let’s move on to Jamal. I guess now that he came out he’s
comfortable enough to film a D’Angelo “How Does it Feel” knock-off video. I did
LOL during this scene. Aside from Cookie, Jamal’s my favorite developed
character but I couldn’t get with his “I’m too sexy for my shirt” vibe. In
typical Empire flash forward mode, it appears Ryan and Jamal are now a couple.
Remember that guy Jamal was dating before? Nah, didn’t think so.  

Dear Dre, as a viewer seeing you lose is fun to watch, but
then I feel guilty because people in real life are bi-polar and it’s scary and
the people around them realllly want them to just take their pills. I would
really like to see you win, so can you listen to your darling wife Rhonda and
take your damn pills?

We all knew it was coming. Dre has been maligned and
side-lined from the pilot episode and yet, he still shows up for work and keeps
hoping maybe, just maybe Lucious will appreciate the fact that he has book
learnin’ and therefore should run the company. Sadly, it’s not to be. Between
his craven behavior and  his bipolar
diagnosis everybody but him seems to know he will never run Empire, and yet he
persists. My favorite emotional moment on this episode was when the brothers,
including Dre, sing “Lean On Me,” an apt song for the situation.

The rest of the episode is all of Empire staff working
diligently to keep their artists from fleeing to Baretti’s camp. We have Jamal
singing with Miss Delphine (the lovely Estelle), then trying to sign her and
per usual being ignored by Lucious. We have Cookie trying to compel one of
Empire’s big ticket rappers to remain with the company by drinking him under
the table. We even have Hakeem, setting up Anika so Cookie can meet with Tiana,
who says she’ll return to Empire if she can have him back. I was pleased to see
some growth in Hakeem, but a little disappointed that he’d pick Camilla. Notice
Cookie’s face when he said he was in love with Camilla?


Random Thoughts:

“That’s the trouble with these THOTs” says some
cornball to Cookie in the studio. I didn’t use to know what that meant, thanks
for the definition Blaire. If you don’t know it Google it.  I just aged myself.

Jamal is actually quietly building the business,
which leads to…

“Put aside your played out homophobia unless
it’s more important then Empire.” Thanks Jamal

“You’re so Beautiful” again? How much mileage
are they going to wrench out of this song? Although I liked this version the
best. Weird to see Lucious and Cookie harmonizing on the piano bench? This show
has a short memory or just gives up making sense to move the story forward.

Dre slipping under the basketball stand made me
hysterical; had to rewind.

Who called the psych ward to come pick up Dre?
Did you catch him reminding his father that he knows he’s a murderer?

Wondering what will happen next week? Will the murder of
Bunky by Lucious be revealed to Cookie or is that storyline retired? Will
Cookie ever be confronted with her murder-for-hire mistake? Only two more
episodes left.