The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Blackness
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Thursday, December 21, 2023

Phat Beach (1996)

"Phat Beach" (1996) is a comedy directed by Doug Ellin. Ellin also co-wrote the film with Cleveland O'Neal III, Brian E. O'Neal, and Ben Morris, which stars Jermaine Hopkins and Brian Hooks, featuring Coolio with a cameo appearance. The movie was successful at the box office, grossing over $1.3 million on a $100,000 budget. The film's soundtrack was primarily hip-hop and R&B, reaching number 40 on the Top R&B Albums chart. Producers marketed the film as the first hip-hop beach movie; it may be the only one ever, considering how one defines a hip-hop beach movie.

Director: Doug Ellin
Writers: Cleveland O'Neal III, Brian E. O'Neal, Ben Morris, Doug Ellin

Starring Jermaine Hopkins, Brian Hooks, Coolio, Claudia Kaleem, Alma Collins, Eric Fleeks, Candice Merideth, Sabrina De Pina, Jennifer Lucienne, Gregg Vance, Tom Lister Jr.

Benny King (Jermaine Hopkins) is a self-conscious individual who struggles to gain respect from his family. His friend Durrel Jackson (Brian Hooks) is a fast-talking suave who can't help but focus on chasing women. When King's parents leave for vacation, Durrel convinces King to quit his summer job and head to the beach. However, King is infatuated with the sultry and curvaceous Candace (Claudia Kaleem) as he daydreams about them together. His pursuit of Claudia blinds him to another girl who is genuinely interested in him.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Lift (2001)

"Lift" (2001) is an independent drama written and directed by DeMane Davis and Khari Streeter. The film stars Kerry Washington, Lonette McKee, Eugene Byrd, and Barbara Montgomery. The film appeared at the Sundance Film Festival 2001 but never earned a theatrical release. Instead, Showtime aired the movie until they released it on DVD. 

The late 90s and early 2000s saw an explosion of black films, but many didn't receive theatrical treatment. However, several were well-put-together movies that deserve a second run. "Lift" is a decent movie and an excellent role for Washington before her superstardom. Also, the film is a nostalgic reminder of what the early 2000s looked like.

Directors: DeMane Davis, Khari Streeter
Writers: DeMane Davis, Khari Streeter

Starring Kerry Washington, Lonette McKee, Eugene Byrd, Barbara Montgomery, Samantha Brown, Sticky Fingaz, Todd Williams, Jacqui Parker, Naheem Allah, Susan Alger, Annette Miller, Pooch Hall, Braun Philip, Daniel Laurent, John Fiore, Crystal Tyson, 

Niecy (Kerry Washington) works at an expensive Boston department store, using her knowledge of fashion and security to steal clothing from other stores. In her inner-city neighborhood, she resells her wares to friends and family while struggling to connect with her mother, Elaine (Lonette McKee), and worrying about her relationship with her drug dealer boyfriend, Angelo (Eugene Byrd). To steal a necklace for her mother, Niecy agrees to help gangster Christian (Todd Williams) with a large heist.