Saturday, 27 September 2014

EDITOR’S PICKS: The weekend’s run-down of literary, film and TV recommendations

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Everyone is buzzing about Viola Davis’ envelope-pushing new TV series, ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, which s bound to spark endless rounds of water-cooler conversation. It’s the latest effort from the arsenal of creative genius Shonda Rhimes, so how could it not? The spotlight naturally turns to Davis’ brightest career moments, which must include the book-to-screen adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s international bestseller The Help, a wise and poignant first novel that delves into early ‘60s life in Jackson, Mississippi and how a group of oppressed Black housemaids helped change the city’s pernicious social hierarchy and their own lives forever. 

ACTION TIME: Here’s a worthy companion piece to Denzel Washington’s The Equalizer, out now. Set amid the steel-and-glass towers of corporate privilege in Berlin, Milan, New York City and other global destinations, The International revolves around a dedicated Interpol agent (Clive Owen) and an assistant district attorney determined to expose the shady dealings of an international bank. Before long, the two are up to their necks in tracking assassins, illegal arm deals and other dangerous stuff. Overall, it’s a sleek and twisty thrill ride. 

MODERN FAMILY: More than ever, the Black experience is getting its due on US network television, as actors and producers continue to make powerful strides in Tinseltown. Now comes Black-ish. Ace comedian Anthony Anderson (K-Ville) and Tracee Ellis (Girlfriends) headline this refreshing new take on the modern Black family, a sitcom centred on an upper-middle class clan whose move to upper-crust white suburbia brings into play matters concerning class, race and the myriad shades in between. Laurence Fishburne, also an executive producer, rounds out the main cast as a cynical grandpa whose subversive wit goes hand in hand with his triend-and-proven wisdom. 

IN THE SPIRIT: Whether performing traditional gospel or edgier tunes, Yolanda Adams holds true to her message of praise and conviction. Much of her 2006 release, Day by Day, one of her most enjoyable efforts to date, delivers much of the same and then some: outstanding inspirational ballads with a piano or organ accompanying her pure, honeyed vocals. Best are the rollicking “Victory” (from The Gospel soundtrack), which calls to mind a funkier church processional, and “Alright,” with its thick, driving beat and candy-coated chorus. Like Kirk Franklin and Mary Mary , to name just a few of her contemporaries, Adams’ Day by Day fits right in on mainstream radio.

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