Elite Urbanite’s Favorite Movies

Elite Urbanite’s Favorite Movies

Anytime I meet new friends, co-workers, or even when I go on dates, the common ice breaker is “what is your favorite movie?” For years I didn’t know what the answer was, because honestly there are so many movies that I haven’t seen. No particular reason other than the fact that I have the attention span of a baby squirrel, therefore I CANNOT sit through some of these nearly 3 hour movies. Now at the ripe age of 25 I finally have a (very short) list of my favorite movies. These movies are ones I can, and have, watched over and over again. The common theme with these movies, despite the difference in their subject matter is positivity. I love movies that either encompass some sort of lesson, or are just down right silly! I’ve probably seen some of these dozens of times because I know they’ll cheer me up if I’m in a shitty mood.

I was gonna give y’all a top 5, but fuck it… let’s make it even and go with 6! Check out my list below and watch my favorite scene from each film!

🎥 🍿 🎞

KILL BILL VOL. 1

Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) – My dad was the one who actually suggested I watched this movie. As a kid, I would always sit and watch all of the Old Bruce Lee films with him on repeat. So obviously he knew that I would love Kill Bill. I was pretty much speechless the first time I watched this movie. I LOVE how badass and understandably vengeful Beatrix Kiddo was. I mean if a group of your trusted allies tried to kill you, put you in a coma that almost killed your baby, and then lived to tell the tale…. wouldn’t you want to seek revenge on those motherfuckers too?! Despite the fight scenes and occasional gore, her “never give up” attitude has always stuck with me. This is where Kobe Bryant actually got his nickname “The Black Mamba” from! Though this is my top choice, it wasn’t hard to pick a favorite scene. Beatrix or “The Bride” let’s all her badassery out on The Crazy 88’s AND Gogo, proving to O-Ren Ishii she is NOT the one to be played with!

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS

What We Do In the Shadows (2015) – This one was another family suggestion, this time from my silly brother! I was a little apprehensive at first because most of the time vampire movies are a little corny. However this Aussie Vampire mockumentary is one of the silliest movies I’ve ever seen. Honestly I was cracking up just trying to find a clip to include in this list. The humor is definitely for a very specific and quirky audience, and it is right up my alley. Often times we see vampire’s portrayed as brooding and mysterious, but this group of vamps are quite the opposite. The clip below is the perfect example, Vampire Style!

BLAZING SADDLES

Blazing Saddles (1974) – Now this particular movie has gotten a lot of backlash with the world coming increasingly more progressive by the minute. I get that people like to go back and call out how certain themes in old movies were problematic, but the difference with this movie is, that is the EXACT reason why it was made! Mel Brooks made this film to spoof Western films (and actually most films during the time this one was made) and their blatant racism. Because I know that this is clearly a spoof and not meant to offend anyone, I’m able to watch this anytime I need a good laugh and a dose of reality. My favorite scene in particular is when Madeline Kahn’s character Lili Von Shtupp does a very lackadaisical performance describing how tired she is of, ahem “dating” countless men, it’s pure comedic genius.

WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971) – This is one of these movies that I can say I’ve seen way more than 20 times in my life, it always puts me in a good mood! It’s a feel good story with a lesson that still applies to adulthood, cheating and having a terrible attitude will get you nowhere in life… it may even get you trapped in a chocolate factory! Besides the heartwarming plot, I was always so blown away with Gene Wilder’s whimsical portrayal of the candy magnate. As a kid, the clip below used to scare the shit out of me… now, I love it!!! It shows just how extremely outlandish and wildly unpredictable Mr. Wonka was! (Honestly those bad ass kids deserved a good fright.)

BEETLEJUICE

Beetlejuice (1988) – Another whimsical classic! My favorite holiday is Halloween, so of course this my go-to movie during spooky season. However the problem is, that I love this movie so much I just end up watching it over and over again and never get to the other ones on my list! I’m a big fan of Tim Burton and his extreme attention to detail. Also, I was introduced to the lovely music of Harry Belafonte because of this very scene. Though I love Halloween, I’m not huge on horror films, I’m a bit of a chicken. Luckily, this movie is the perfect amount of dark and quirky, which actually happen to be two words I use to describe myself.

THE WIZARD OF OZ

The Wizard of Oz (1939) – I’m a bit of a dreamer so this movie has always resonated with me. I constantly think of what life would be like if I woke up in a completely different world filled with such vibrancy, color, and kindness! Of course, I’ve gotten older so my interests have changed in some ways (i.e. Kill Bill), but this movie will and always has made me teary eyed every time I’ve watched it (which is possibly over 100 times). Though there have been countless remakes and spin offs, nothing will compare to the original. It has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a nearly perfect score that I couldn’t agree with more. This very scene shows how ahead of their time they were!

I MAY DESTROY YOU

I MAY DESTROY YOU

Every woman should be watching I May Destroy You! ESPECIALLY black women. Though we are still in the midst of the series, audiences are in awe of this powerful yet comedic television series. Michaela Coel is best known for starring in Chewing Gum and a few episodes of Black Mirror, but her directorial debut has propelled her stardom to new levels.

Coel stars as Arabella, a young author who became famous after her tweets went viral. One night she decides to take a break from writing and goes out to get some drinks with friends. When she wakes up the next day, she can’t recount her steps. She does vaguely remember a situation where she was in the bathroom stall, with a man over her, and a thudding noise in the background. When she finally puts the pieces together, she realizes she has been raped.

I don’t want to give too much away seeing as the season still in progress, but the series shows Arabella’s journey to find her rapist and herself. Based on the traumatic events she experienced, she must re-evaluate the people around her and her relationship with her family.

What I found really compelling was that the series touched upon how black women and gay men often deal with stigmas when it comes to sexual assault. So often we see white women speaking out about their experiences with sexual assault, but when black women or gay men try to do the same they aren’t met with the same response. Black women often told that it was their fault the assault occurred, this is because we are constantly being over sexualized. We are always told to be strong and brush things off, so Arabella struggles to fully heal from her rape because she doesn’t want to appear weak. And when her friend Kwame, a gay black man, tried to report his assault, he wasn’t even taken seriously which causes him to internalize his pain.

When I first started to watch it, I thought it was going to be along the lines of Euphoria. I wasn’t really able to get past the first episode of Euphoria because I felt like I was a little too old to be watching it. I May Destroy You however, has deeper themes that people can relate to and connect with. SO many women are victims of rape or assault. I am not, but this show is truly a great representation of how a woman, more importantly a Black woman, deals with the trauma of rape and works through the healing process. I think it’s important for people to watch this show because far too many women are victims of assault. It’s extremely important for victims to learn how to properly deal with their trauma, but also how to be a supportive friend or family member through this process.

I May Destroy You is available on HBO, HBO Max, and HBO GO with new episodes every Monday night at 10PM.

BLACK IS KING

BLACK IS KING

I am still blown away by Beyonce’s visual album, BLACK IS KING, on Disney Plus. If you haven’t watched it yet… stop what you’re doing and go watch it right now!

Beyonce never misses (obviously, she is perfection). The mixture of stunning visuals, upbeat music, and celebration of black culture makes for an overall powerful experience that everyone should be a part of.

BLACK IS KING is Beyonce’s retelling of the film, The Lion King, from the point of view of a young black boy. She previously released an album when the live action movie came out in 2019, but decided to bless us with the deluxe version. I really love how Beyonce mixed elements of afrobeat into this album. A few of my favorites are Find Your Way Back, Ja Ara E, Already, My Power, Mood 4 Eva and Nile. I also thought it was great to see Beyonce to acknowledge black artists from different regions such as Burna Boy, WizKid, Shatta Wale, Oumou Sangare, Moonchild Sanelly, and Yemi Alade. You can listen to the whole album below!

Not only was the music fantastic, but so were the visuals! The film was filled with bright colors, stunning symmetry, and plenty of homages to black history. At one point Beyonce was literally swimming with synchronized swimmers, came up from the water and was STILL FLAWLESS. HOW??? (I even wrote in my notes “how do you come up from the water and still look good???”). I’ve included some of my favorite visuals below as well.

We also got to see several special appearances from Kelly Rowland, Pharrell, Naomi Campbell, Lupita Nyongo. We even get to see Jay-Z, Miss Tina, Blue Ivy, Rumi, and Sir who she actually dedicated the film to!

My favorite part of the film was the constant gems that were dropped. A few that really stuck out to me were; “step into your essence”, “we were beauty before they knew what beauty was”, and lastly “something about walking in the room with your head high and not disrespecting your crown by bowing your neck”. It’s SO important for black people to hear these affirmations, because we are constantly being torn down. With everything going on in the world it was really uplifting to see black culture be shown in such an artistic and appreciative way.

GO WATCH BLACK IS KING ASAP!

Westworld III!

The trailer just dropped for the third season of Westworld! Coincidentally my brother had asked me on Saturday if Westworld was ever coming back, I guess we’ve got our answer. If you have not yet seen or even heard of Westworld, you are missing out. Now that Game of Thrones is over I’m excited to get back into another incredible show.

The plot is derived from the 1973 sci-fi Western movie of the same name. The first season had similar characteristics to the movie, it focused mainly on saloons and cowboys, but the second season broadened it’s horizons and spread out to different “worlds”. It looks like they will be expanding further in season three!

The newest season does not come out until 2020, which gives me and other fans of the show plenty of time to catch up on the episodes. I am a huge fan of the Nolan Brothers work so I am excited to see where they take the next season. Take a look at the trailer here: Westworld III.

Game of Thrones: The End is Coming

Sunday is right around the corner so you know what that means…. Game of Thrones! As many of you know, this is the final season so plenty of people are speculating how it will all end. For a show with so much detail and time put into it’s story line, it’s actually quite difficult to guess what’ll happen next.

However, show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss created a Spotify playlist titled “Game of Thrones: The End is Coming” where each song title alludes to subtle hints at how it may all end. Of course we’ll never really know how it ends until it you know, ends… but it’s still fun to guess!

Check out the playlist below to see if you can figure out which songs apply to the plots, characters, and story lines of the final season of Game of Thrones!

 

MET GALA 2019

IT’S FINALLY HERE… the Met Gala! If you are unaware the Met Gala occurs every year and is a fundraising event held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in NYC. Top designers create extravagant pieces based on the year’s theme for different celebrities.

This year’s theme was “Camp”. The idea was based of of Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on Camp”. Camp essentially is the art of being “extra”, but in the best way possible, so over-doing it is encouraged! I loooove the idea of camp and have always been inspired by figures like the Spice Girls, Cher, Prince, and many more who perfectly exhibit what it means to be “Camp”. 

I’m so glad so many people went above and beyond on the pink carpet, below are my favorite looks from the night!

 

 

Beyoncé: HΘMΣCΘMING

I finally got around to watch the “Beyoncé: HΘMΣCΘMING”. As I mentioned before I was supposed to go to Beychella… but my brother bailed smh. Anyway. I always admire Beyoncé’s hard work ethic, but she put in EXTRA work to pull of this historic Coachella performance.

She easily could have given us a Beyoncé show (which is always amazing) but her vision was to bring our culture to Coachella. She was originally scheduled to perform at the festival in 2017, but she got pregnant… with twins! Beyoncé knew that after having to reschedule her performance and giving birth to twins this would have to be the performance of her life. On top of all of that Beyoncé was the first black woman to headline Coachella, so there was even more pressure on her! “Ain’t that a b*tch?!”

She mentioned in her documentary that this was the hardest she has EVER pushed herself in her life. Instead of “easily put[ing] on a flower crown”, Beyoncé chose to bring Black culture to the masses. Her vision was to spread the spirit and excitement of Homecoming at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCU’s. Though she did not attend one herself, she stated that she has always admired the joy and camaraderie involved in HBCU Homecoming.

After having suffered high blood pressure, and many other complications from her pregnancy this in essence was Beyoncé’s Homecoming too. It felt like it was Homecoming for all of us. As Black women we have to put in double, sometimes even triple, the amount of work to be successful. So to see Beyoncé put her blood, sweat, and tears into preparing for this performance was beyond inspiring.

Beyoncé has always been an advocate for representation, especially for women. It was incredible to see that the women dancing with her at Coachella were all shapes, sizes, and colors. Another cool thing to see was that her band was all female! It didn’t matter what they looked like, as long as they can hit the right moves and play the right notes, they’re part of the team. She even brought her girls Destiny’s Child onstage and her sister Solange!

The behind the scenes footage showed how detail oriented and dedicated she was to this performance. Beyoncé cut out meat, fish, bread, air, water… (Kidding! But it was a lot), to get down to the size she wanted. She prepared and practiced for nearly an entire year for this, and it certainly paid off.

Of course in true Beyoncé fashion, she released a “Beyoncé: HΘMΣCΘMING” album as well. She even hosted her own viewing at Grambling State University. According to reports, she has signed on for two more Netflix specials, and I’m thrilled to watch more of Beyoncé’s hard work pay off two more times!

The Wing West Hollywood!

Since 2016 I have been following the growth of the “members-only women-focused working space”, called The Wing. From it’s inception, I knew it would be revolutionary. They just opened up their seventh location here in West Hollywood after popular demand. The first club opened up in NYC and has spread to Chicago, San Franciso, D.C., and soon there will be locations in London, Toronto, Boston and Seattle.

Co-Founders Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan got the concept from a group called The Women’s Club movement founded in the 19th and early 20th century. This club was important because it was a group where women could motivate and comfort one another in such difficult times. This movement spread across the nation and created groups that still exist today! But now in 2019, all of these aspects are what gave birth to The Wing.

Now when I say everything at The Wing is geared towards women, I mean EVERYTHING! You can drop your child off at the daycare, make a quick stop to the pumping room, do your hair and make-up, hold meetings over lunch, and take conference calls all in the same place! Often working mothers find it hard to balance everything and the women of The Wing realized this and made things so easily accessible. Even the books in the library are all either written by women or are about women. Another cool thing is that the conference rooms are all named after influential women in pop culture to keep in line with the Hollywood theme. For instance there are conference rooms named after “Princess Leia of Star Wars, C.J. Cregg of The West Wing, Lydia Deetz of Beetlejuice and Dora The Explorer”.  Even the building itself is catered toward women, according to reports, the AC and furniture are set to favor women’s body shapes and temperatures!

The Wing is also a great place for women trying to make connections in the industry. Hollywood, is extremely male dominated. As we have seen in the news, woman who are trying to make a name for themselves are constantly harassed and threatened. The West Hollywood location partnered with Time’s Up to assure that this is a safe and comfortable space for women to build their own careers on their own time. There are even several female entertainers that hold the title of Co-Founder at The Wing West Hollywood. These women include “Mindy Kaling, Jessica Alba, Katy Perry, Shonda Rhimes, Maya Rudolph, Amandla Stenberg, Busy Phillips, Laverne Cox, Sharon Stone, Sarah Silverman, Margaret Cho,  Gabourey Sidibe, Hari Nef, Gia Coppola, Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy; Hollywood stylists Karla Welch and Jamie Mizrahi, 42 West publicist Leslee Dart, and ID PR’s Kelly Bush Novak.”

Even if you are settled business wise, it’s also a great place to create friendships with like-minded women! Being that Los Angeles is such wide-spanning city with so many people to meet, this is the perfect place to do so. You can even grab a bite to eat from the “women-run and women-staffed” cafe!

I hope I get to visit The Wing sometime soon, or even become a member one day! I look forward to the growth and success of The Wing. Read more about it here!

Coachella 2019: The Best Looks from Weekend One

Weekend One of Coachella just came to an end and so many fun moments came out of it! Billie Eilish finally met Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande reunited 4/5 members of *NSYNC, and so much more. But of course, my favorite part will be the fashion!

I love looks that are unique and creative. Everyone can throw on some flowy pants and a flower crown and call it a day, but that’s far too easy.  Coachella is all about fun and practicality (you are in the middle of the desert after all) and I think it’s important to show that through your fashion choices for the three day extravaganza.

Take a look below and get inspired by these Coachella babes! 

@nicolemehta // @weworewhat

@unwosu // @shaninamshaik // @jastookes

@dorothywang // @jastookes

@butwhatshouldiwear // @shaymitchell

@iamfashionlaine // @viviannn_v

@michelletakeaim // @otravezcollection

@angelcandices // @angelandren

@sosupersam // @devinbrugman

@sincerelyjules // @normani

@shaninamshaik // @brittanyxavier