Category Archives: Directors Cut

Director’s Cut: FOX’s Baseball Series “Pitch” TV Review

FOX’s new Thursday night show, Pitch, about a young woman, Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), who becomes the first woman to pitch for a major league baseball team is groundbreaking television. Ginny Baker earns a winning spot on the San Diego Padres because of her vicious screw ball that her father, Bill Baker played by Michael Beach, helped her perfect.

While watching the first few minutes of the show an overwhelming joy came over me. Looking at the beauty of Bunbury on that screen and her strength in the opening scenes, how focused she appeared while heading to her first professional baseball game made me a bit emotional. As a young woman of color this is historical. I can actually see someone that looks like me playing a role that breaks standards. Of course there has been a lot of record breaking shows within the past few years with Empire, Scandal, Queen Sugar and more but to see a fictional female character of color breaking barriers in sports is inspiring.

With the pressure mounting from millions of viewers, thousands of little girls admiring Ginny, and the need to make her family and team mates proud Ginny unfortunately caves to the pressure during her first game. Deciding to leave the game after several high throws and balls hitting the dirt Ginny feels ultimately defeated, and questions her purpose in the league taking it out on her father. Instead of it being the typical father-son sports duo Ginny took her brothers’ position becoming the perfectly sculpted star player her father dreamed of having. The father -daughter relationship in the show is typical of a sports dad being extremely hard and strict on his kid, especially one like Ginny who becomes an elite player in a male dominated sport.

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PITCH: L-R: Dan Lauria, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Kylie Bunbury in PITCH ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw / FOX

Aspects of the show that I enjoyed the most would definitely be the realness of the sport. I am not a baseball fan but while watching episode one Ginny’s journey on the field and in the locker room felt authentic. Pitch is surely a sports show that will probably grow an audience base from the off field drama later in the season. Hopefully true baseball fans will connect to Ginny’s story off the field. I am not sure but the show is definitely aesthetically pleasing where Pitch has the pleasure of actually partnering with the MLB helping to make the show look even more authentic.

Another highlight of the show was Bunbury’s acting and the vulnerability and strength she presented from her breakdown on the filed, to her dealing with jealous teammates and doubtful coaches. Pitch showed the true rawness of emotions any women would feel in that position. Ginny’s debut was nothing easy she struggled her first and second game until team captain, Mike Lawson (Saved by the Bell‘s Mark-Paul Gosselaar), finally decides to help and gives Ginny a game time pep talk. “You have a lot of people telling you who you are doing this for except you. You cant please everyone.” said Mike. The pep talk obviously worked because Ginny killed the other team with her perfected screw ball pitch getting five strike outs and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Now you finally think Ginny’s father, Bill, would be proud and happy for his daughter, that they finally accomplished their dream but wrong. A shocker within the last few minutes of the episode hits you and you realize Bill is actually dead! There were several flashbacks throughout the episode showing Ginny’s journey to the MLB and how her father pushed her with late night practices to perfect her throw. One flash back goes to the night she was recruited by the San Diego Padres after winning the state championship game. Ginny and Bill are driving home only to get into a fatal car accident that throws her father out of the car killing him. Now any time she sees her father it is only a figment of her imagination, but a much needed push for her to stay focused and grind, Bill said it himself “We ain’t done nothing yet.”

Overall Pitch is a show I will be keeping up with, especially to see what happens later in the season I am sure there will be more drama, locker room fights, and some romance for Ginny I am sure it is coming! Pitch airs Thursdays at 9pm ET on Fox!

#WhatsTheReel! Let us know what you think about this new sports show and if you are excited to see more groundbreaking television.

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Director’s Cut: Zoe Saldana as Nina Review

The very black and unapologetic superstar known, as Nina Simone has not always been given her fair end of the stick. Breaking out as a star in the 1960s, 70s and beyond is no easy feat especially for a black woman that refuses to mold into society’s standard of beauty. Even with all the broken glass ceilings many do not know her life and the amazing success and fame she built for herself.

I had the pleasure of attending a screening of the movie Nina at the School of Visual Arts hosted by African American Women In Cinema (AAWIC). Many acknowledge the movie from the controversy over Zoe Saldana performing in “black face” as Nina Simone. Personally I was quite skeptical about why they decided to color Saldana to make her look more like Simone but that is exactly why I could not miss an opportunity to witness either greatness or mediocrity.

singing saldana

The opening scene set in North Carolina during the 1940s set the tone for the strength of the movie. A young Simone with two braids pulled back into pigtails and a schoolgirl dress walked on stage towards a grand piano in an auditorium full of white faces. You see her finely dressed parents standing to the back of the auditorium by the door. Simone sits down ready to perform and slowly pauses, sitting still for a while an older white woman approaches Simone. She thoughtfully but boldly tells the white woman she will not perform unless her parents can sit in the front row. The woman tells her they cannot, as if her request was forbidden, and Simone simply repeats herself refusing to play until they are seated. The woman reluctantly walks away waiving Simone’s parents over towards the empty seats on the side of the room. Of course a couple of white people felt disrespected and left while the majority stayed to hear the prodigy pianist, Nina Simone. Her strength as a young child was just a little piece of the tenacity and power shown throughout the film and her life.

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Surprisingly the film only depicted the last ten years of Simone’s life, showing her struggle with alcoholism, mental illness, and her fight to get back to singing and her home country, America. The film was pleasantly surprising showing aspects of Simone’s life that many have not seen. The relationship she had with her young assistant, Clifton, who eventually became her manager and helped Simone stopped drinking, rebuilding her reputation and career. The film also showed Simone’s internal issues with men, love, family, mental illness, and touched on the anger she had towards a country she believed failed her and its people.

“Being an outspoken black women I feared for my life. It’s only natural I want acceptance from my own country, but I was tired of needing it,” stated Simone on why she left America.

The film had many layers I did not expect to see which was refreshing. I can definitely say that Zoe Saldana’s depiction of Simone was beautiful. She totally gave her all for this role, embodying Simone and tried to honor her the best way Saldana could. Something that surprised me the most was finding out that Saldana sang all the music in the movie and she sounded great! Unfortunately, with all good must come a little bad. Now the time has come to talk about the critics concerns, the makeup!

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While watching the film I really had to put aside all the negativity I heard beforehand about Saldana’s “black face” and really focus on the story itself. Now being truthful the make up was distracting in some scenes where she was darker than previous shots. Other times I was not sure about her age or what decade the scene was in because there were flashbacks in the film, but no significant change in her appearance. Although the make up was distracting at times it did not take from Saldana’s amazing performance. One thing that was greatly missing for me was more of Simone’s backstory. For many millennials they may not know Simone’s legacy and grandeur and that was not shown well in my opinion as to why and how she became the NINA SIMONE! Honestly, that may have been too much of a backstory to put in this movie considering the fullness of her life.

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Regardless of the backlash about this film it should definitely be seen. Nina embodies the boldness and strength of Simone along with the roller coaster of emotions she dealt with while being a successful black female star in a white world. Lastly, Nina made me thankful for Simone’s greatness and inspired me to want to be more like Simone and learn more about her life and share it with those around me. NINA is definitely Reel Approved! To actually watch the movie visit the Urban Movie Channel.

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