AMERICAN FICTION – Review by Susan Granger

Based on Percival Everett’s 2001 novel Erasures, Cord Jefferson’s cagey American Fiction has garnered five Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score. The story introduces Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (Jeffrey Wright), a serious West Coast university professor/fledgling writer who bristles at the media’s exploitation of Black stereotypes for profit.

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AMERICAN FICTION – Review by Jennifer Merin

One of the year’s very best films, writer/director Cord Jefferson’s American Fiction is a sly, sophisticated and thoroughly engaging put down of America’s propensity for racial stereotyping — in particular in the realm of literature, publishing and academia, but crossing into other turf, as well. It is the subtly told tale of a highly esteemed and brilliant Black author and college professor. Thelonious ‘Monk’ Ellison, whose current manuscript isn’t selling because it isn’t deemed to be ‘Black’ enough. So, as an anger-based joke, Monk — as he’s known to family, friends and fans — composes a supposedly semi-autobiographical novel that he credits to a completely fictitious author who is reportedly hiding his real identity because he’s ostensibly a criminal on the run. The manuscript is pure in-your-face jive, but — against his will — his agent submits it to a publishing house where they applaud it’s authenticity and buy it for big bucks.

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AMERICAN FICTION – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Hearing Black artists’ work described as “raw” and “real” grates on Thelonious “Monk” Ellison. It’s not that Monk (Jeffrey Wright), a professor and author, doesn’t find some writing transportive. He just considers a lot of what catapults onto best-seller lists and movie screens featuring Black characters pandering: stories of drugs, deadbeat dads, pregnant teens, and police shootings. Those circumstances might be some people’s realities, but writer/director Cord Jefferson’s debut feature film argues there are other stories we’re not seeing. A blistering indictment of giving the public what it thinks it wants, it criticizes the publishing industry—and some films—for “elevating” Black voices yet perpetuating stereotypes.

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COLD COPY (Tribeca 2023) – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Making her feature debut, writer-director Roxine Helberg focuses Cold Copy on the relationship between an eager postgraduate journalism student and the seasoned TV reporter she’s determined to impress. Yet Mia (Bel Powley, The Morning Show) shows so few ethics at the outset, we’re not surprised by the lines she oversteps later. She’s also a cipher, with little motivation about why she’s so hungry to succeed in a profession so cutthroat, one character says workers fight over the bagels in the breakroom.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: NBC Special Celebrates Carol Burnett’s Birthday – Brandy McDonnell reports

Paying tribute to a beloved national icon for her birthday, NBC will celebrate Carol Burnett’s illustrious career with Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love. The two-hour special will air at 8 p.m. ET/PT April 26 and will stream next day on Peacock. Filmed at Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles, the star-studded special will feature an A-list lineup of musical performances and special guests, who will come together to share their love for one of the most cherished comediennes in television history.

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THE HIGH NOTE – Review by Lois Alter Mark

After seeing the trailer for the dozenth time, I admit I didn’t have high hopes for The High Note, which looked like generic rom-com-ish fluff. But, thanks to solid performances by Tracee Ellis Ross, Dakota Johnson, Kelvin Harrison, Jr. and Ice Cube, the movie rises above its genre to become truly compelling.

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