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FILM REVIEW: John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Keanu Reeves as Wick is 30% a punching bag and 70% an aggressive warrior. Martial arts. Gunplay. Reeves convinces you completely that Wick is the professional all other killers look up to. There is no franchise, as we know it, without him. He dominated The Matrix, and now this.

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By Dwight Brown NNPA Newswire Film Critic

Keanu Reeves And Halle Berry In John Wick Chapter 3 Parabellum

Keanu Reeves And Halle Berry In John Wick Chapter 3 Parabellum

Should the glorification of gun violence, as depicted in this action/thriller, become a thing of the past? Is that notion worth a discussion? Think on it.

John Wick is back. In Chapter 3 of this ultra-violent franchise, this assassin digs deeper and deeper into an underworld of hit men and women who are greedy for conquests and money.

Stunt double (The Crow, Matrix) turned director Chad Stahelski (John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 2) starts this tale of lawlessness and adjudication with Wick knee-deep in action. He’s running pigeon-toed down rain-soaked streets, across Times Square, through traffic. Before you can take a breath, a hit is put on him with a $14M bounty. What did he do? He knocked off a member of an assassin’s organization, The High Table, in the wrong place.

That kind of loot brings more killers out of the woodwork than roaches scoping out a piece of cake on a kitchen counter. The dude is “excommunicado.” He’s the prey, and the hunters want him dead, not alive.

Hopefully the Stuntman’s Association and Stuntwoman’s Association demanded bonus payments for the 90 body doubles in this movie. Whatever the lead stars can’t do, they do with a verve and athleticism that is astonishing to watch.

Asia Kate Dillon and Lance Reddick in John Wick Chapter 3 Parabellum

Asia Kate Dillon and Lance Reddick in John Wick Chapter 3 Parabellum

The action in this crazed ode to human destruction, whether it’s on horseback or motorcycles or in a hotel or souk, is some of the most mind-boggling and kinetic that’s ever been displayed on-screen. The level of carnage is startling—if not overwhelming. Gunshots pierce bodies, heads, knees and throats. Again, and again.

Keanu Reeves as Wick is 30% a punching bag and 70% an aggressive warrior. Martial arts. Gunplay. Reeves convinces you completely that Wick is the professional all other killers look up to. There is no franchise, as we know it, without him. He dominated The Matrix, and now this.

Ian McShane is back as Winston, the haughty proprietor of the Continental Hotel. He runs his business but is under the thumb of a syndicate that calls the shots and enforces their rules. His right-hand man Charon is played with stern conviction by Lance Reddick (The Wire). Add into the mix: The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon, Orange Is the New Black), who implements consequences. The stealth killer Zero (cult icon Marc Dacascos, lately of Hawaii Five-O) and his deadly ninjas. A local NYC neighborhood leader, Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne). And a Belarusian ballet master named The Director (Anjelica Huston).

Halle Berry in John Wick Chapter 3 Parabellum

Halle Berry in John Wick Chapter 3 Parabellum

The biggest surprise, in a perfectly cast movie, is Halle Berry as Sofia. She plays an old acquaintance of John’s and he needs her help. Initial scenes between the two sitting at a coffee table are dull, like a second-rate acting class. But oh heavens, when the fighting begins Berry pulls out her A-game and is more vicious than a rabid dog. Speaking of which, her performance is enriched greatly by the appearance of two Belgian Malinois. That canine breed was reared to be herders but are now used for policing and protection. Berry and her two four-legged weapons are integral to this chapter and help make it more unique that the other two. In fact, if Sofia gets a spin-off, a legion of fans will follow her.

Tip your hat to: Cinematographer (Dan Laustsen, The Shape of the Water), for his dynamic camerawork, rich lighting and saturated colors. The musical score (Tyler Bates, Joel J. Richard), it punches up the frenzy with every note. Spot-on editing (Evan Schiff, John Wick: Chapter 2), footage is cut so tight it doesn’t give you time to gasp for air. Evocative production design (Kevin Kavanaugh), art direction (Ian Bailie, Teddy Setiawan, Chris Shriver) and set decoration (Letizia Santucci, David Schlesinger) that collectively give the film a masterful look and feel.

Laurence Fishburne And Ian McShane In John WIck Chpater 3 Parabellum

Laurence Fishburne And Ian McShane In John WIck Chpater 3 Parabellum

Chad Stahelski creates a world all his own, taking style hints from filmmakers like John Woo (A Better Tomorrow), Chan-wook Park (Oldboy) and Sam Peckinpah (Straw Dogs). Few directors are this deft at creating a wall of violence that intensifies right up to the end. It’s stunning, relentlessly vicious, soulless and well-planned. The script (Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins and Marc Abrams) dishes it out, and Stahelski shovels it to the audience, as John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum builds to a chaotic ending. Fight after fight. Gun battles in rapid succession. And more climaxes than a couple on a honeymoon.

You have to admire the spectacle, the rampant, grotesque brutality. If you can’t, at least the target audience of action/thriller/martial arts fans will. They’ll be euphoric.

But questions arise. “Should impressionable tweens and teenagers be allowed to see this mind-numbing violence?” “How will they process it if they do?” “Is an ‘R’ rating (parents must accompany anyone under age 17) appropriate? Would an “NC-17” rating (no one under 17 can see this film) be more fitting?

After weary adult filmgoers stumble out of the theaters, those issues may arise as they chat over a stiff drink, try to calm their frayed nerves and say to themselves: “WTF?”

Visit NNPA Newswire Film Critic Dwight Brown at DwightBrownInk.com and BlackPressUSA.com.

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COMMENTARY: Coach Saban, Shut Up and Coach

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Jackson State will continue to get its fair share of 5-Star recruits. Coach Prime and all HBCUs can offer an experience that Alabama certainly can’t. It’s nothing like an HBCU experience. This is just the beginning. We will continue to see 5-Star Black athletes signing with HBCUs.
The post COMMENTARY: Coach Saban, Shut Up and Coach first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Burl “The Coach” Jones, Sports Editor, Houston Forward Times

Recently, Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban made a statement that Texas A&M bought every player they signed with NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) deals.

Alabama came in second in recruiting this year. That has rarely happened since Saban stepped on campus at Alabama. He also stated that Jackson State University, an HBCU coached by Deion Sanders, signed the #1 recruit in the country to a $1 million NIL deal.

The NIL phenomenon was created in June 2021 by the NCAA. This allows athletes to be paid for the use of their name, image, and likeness. Previously, the NCAA made billions in revenue off the backs of college athletes. With the advent of the NIL, expect a shift in the landscape of college football recruiting.

Schools like Texas A&M, Texas, and Oklahoma, have very rich boosters and alumni who have access to millions. They will come up with very creative ways to offer lucrative NIL deals to 5-star recruits. This apparently doesn’t sit well with Coach Saban, who is used to having his way, and getting most of the 5-Star recruits to sign with Alabama.

This will definitely level the playing field and gives schools like Texas A&M, that hasn’t won a National Championship in decades, a chance to recruit 5-Star athletes on a national level and could eventually lead to them winning a National Championship in the near future.

At least that’s what they hope in College Station.

As far as Coach Saban’s statement about Jackson State signing the #1 recruit in the country to a $1 million NIL deal is concerned, that was quickly debunked by Coach Prime, who immediately tweeted that he will address that lie. He followed that up with this statement:

“I haven’t talked to Coach Saban. I’m sure he tried to call. We need to talk publicly- not privately. What you said was public, that doesn’t require a private conversation. Let’s talk publicly and let everybody hear the conversation.”

Coach Saban is speaking from a place of privilege and bigotry. He is used to having his way and getting the players he wants. How dare a little old HBCU such as Jackson State get the #1 recruit in the country? It’s a slap in the face to all HBCUs to insist that they must pay a Black kid to attend an HBCU.

Paying recruits is certainly not new; it has been going on for years.

Former Houston Texan Travis Johnson, who was a 5-Star recruit, recently stated that Alabama offered him six figures in 2000 when he was being recruited.

“Y’all were the NIL before the NIL,” he said.

Jackson State will continue to get its fair share of 5-Star recruits. Coach Prime and all HBCUs can offer an experience that Alabama certainly can’t. It’s nothing like an HBCU experience. This is just the beginning. We will continue to see 5-Star Black athletes signing with HBCUs.

Coach Saban needs to be concerned about that pipeline that he had in Texas, getting those 5-Star recruits to leave the state. That oil money in Texas will be keeping those boys at home. Texas and Oklahoma will be joining the SEC in a few years and that will also influence Saban’s ability to recruit in Texas.

With all those factors coming into play, here is a bit of advice Coach Sabin:

SHUT UP AND COACH!!

“I’m just Telling It Like It Is!!”

The post COMMENTARY: Coach Saban, Shut Up and Coach first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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COMMENTARY: Racism Rears Its Ugly Head in the Buffalo Shootings

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Racial tragedy struck Buffalo, New York, on May 14th. Hate came up from the ground and reared its inhumane and immoral head. Ten Black people were murdered by a White man who hated Black people. It’s that simple and that sad. Payton S. Gendron, 18 years old, was the shooter. He also injured 3 people as well during this shooting spree.
The post COMMENTARY: Racism Rears Its Ugly Head in the Buffalo Shootings first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By James B. Ewers Jr. Ed.D., Houston Forward Times

Racism is a longstanding social illness in the United States of America. Seemingly, there is no cure for it.

It has been with us for as long as I can remember. The result of it has created heartache and heartbreak.

Lives have been lost and it has left the stain of disgrace on this country. Accomplishments, it could be argued, are sometimes overshadowed by our blatant disregard for some members of our beloved community.

I know for sure that racism will be around for as long as I live. It has been a part of my life experiences.

Unfortunately, and I say this with no pride, I have witnessed racism up close and personal.

I have been around long enough to watch the many levels of racism that exist in this country.

For example, we have had educational racism. Segregated schools were the norm until the case, Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka ended it.

Did that stop us from getting an education?

The answer is a resounding no!

Black colleges, now called Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), were founded in order that higher education was afforded to African Americans.

At this moment, HBCUs are the hottest and most talked about educational venue in the land.

Everybody wants to attend an HBCU. I am a graduate of an HBCU (Johnson C. Smith University), and I know the power and influence they have.

The right to vote has always been problematic for African Americans. It is a fundamental right for all Americans, according to the Founding Fathers.

The problem is that the ‘current fathers’ don’t see it that way.

Will that stop us?

The answer is another resounding no!

African Americans are now voting in record numbers and that trend will continue.

There are states in this union that are creating trumped-up rules to keep us from exercising our privilege at the polls.

Some in this country have taken racism below ground zero. There are people in our states who hate Black people and want to kill us.

That is a powerful statement, yet it is factual and true.

Interestingly, there are citizens who believe the opposite. I suspect their experiences are different, and they live in an almost contactless America.

If you are one of those people, pay close attention now.

Racial tragedy struck Buffalo, New York, on May 14th.

Hate came up from the ground and reared its inhumane and immoral head.

Ten Black people were murdered by a White man who hated Black people.

It’s that simple and that sad.

Payton S. Gendron, 18 years old, was the shooter. He also injured 3 people as well during this shooting spree.

The victims were assaulted at a Tops Friendly Markets store and the victims ranged in ages from 20-86.

This crime of hate is unthinkable and was done with malicious intent.

The killer was not a Buffalo resident. He drove approximately 200 miles from Conklin, New York, to commit this heinous crime.

Gendron had already scouted out the place for his crime. He knew that many African Americans shopped at that location. That is sick beyond words.

According to reports, Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said, “We found some things that show he was here in early March, and then again, we know he was here on Friday, basically doing reconnaissance on the area.”

Gramaglia added, “He was in the store, both on Friday and Saturday.”

These statements were made by him to CNN’s Erin Burnett.

Payton S. Gendron surrendered to police after this life-altering atrocity.

America, where are we headed? Only time will tell.

The post Racism Rears Its Ugly Head in the Buffalo Shootings appeared first on Houston Forward Times.

The post COMMENTARY: Racism Rears Its Ugly Head in the Buffalo Shootings first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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American Petroleum Institute Lays Out Solutions to Rising Gas Prices

NNPA NEWSWIRE — A study of fact sheets provided by the American Petroleum Institute suggests that the complicated answer includes more production in America, which could add more supply. “More U.S. supply means relief for the global market,” Lem Smith, API’s vice president for Federal Relations, wrote in an op-ed.
The post American Petroleum Institute Lays Out Solutions to Rising Gas Prices first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The average price for a gallon of gasoline has hit record numbers in Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

This week prices rose nationally by four cents, and consumers wondered why the cost is so high.

A study of fact sheets provided by the American Petroleum Institute suggests that the complicated answer includes more production in America, which could add more supply. “More U.S. supply means relief for the global market,” Lem Smith, API’s vice president for Federal Relations, wrote in an op-ed.

“America has an abundance of resources right under our feet, and policymakers should send a clear message that America is open for energy investment,” Smith declared.

API noted that gasoline prices are determined by the supply and demand of crude oil and expenses for refining, distribution, retailing, and taxation. Those fundamental market realities drive prices at the pump, officials stated.

The main components of retail gasoline prices are the cost of crude oil, taxes, refining costs, and distribution and marketing costs, API officials stated.

Of those, the price of crude oil has the most significant impact – accounting for 56 percent of the cost.

“Because of this, changes in the price reflect the global cost of crude oil, which is influenced by current conditions and expectations of consumer demand, supply, inventories, geopolitical events, and other factors, generally have an effect on pump prices,” the organization stated in a fact sheet.

Further, federal, state, and local governments levy various taxes in fees on transportation fuels.

The nationwide average tax on gasoline is 57.09 cents per gallon, including a federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon and state-level taxes that range from 68.15 cents per gallon in California and 15.13 cents per gallon in Alaska.

API President and CEO Mike Sommers recently discussed the critical importance of American energy leadership “at a time of geopolitical volatility and rising energy costs around the world.”

Sommers urged policymakers to advance U.S. natural gas and oil production to support stability in global energy markets and ensure access to affordable, reliable energy for American consumers and our allies overseas.

“Most everyone knows that the world needs oil and natural gas in a big way and will for decades or more to come; the only question is where that oil and gas is going to come from,” Sommers remarked.

“As much as ever, we need to think hard about that economic truth and our energy future. That means recognizing energy from natural gas and oil as the critical strategic asset it is to America.”

“We can’t treat oil and natural gas as a kind of switch that is turned on or off to suit the moment,” Sommers continued.

“Production and delivery don’t work that way. Yet the overriding policy lately has been to cancel pipelines, block permits and deny leases – all things that discourage investment.

“As more Americans face the consequences of bad policy, the elements of good policy become that much more apparent and desired. We have an opportunity together to re-center the energy discussion with basic realities and good common sense as our starting point.”

Sommers called on the administration and Congress to develop a new five-year offshore leasing program; hold onshore leases on federal lands per the Mineral Leasing Act; approve LNG export applications and allow the approval of exports to non-free-trade-agreement nations, and craft transparent, consistent permitting regulations to enable the development of vital energy infrastructure.

The U.S. has pledged to increase LNG exports to Europe by 65 percent over the next six years.

How quickly could U.S. oil producers scale up production to put downward pressure on domestic gasoline costs?

What could the federal government do to promote that production?

API officials said it begins with access to resources, advancing infrastructure, and enabling – rather than deterring – the industry’s financing.

“Importantly, financial markets have become less hospitable to the natural gas and oil industry partly because of the Biden administration’s positions, policies, and signals,” API officials asserted.

“Those who have capital may be reluctant to invest in long-lived energy assets in such a climate, and a relatively fixed pool of cash flows that could be re-invested by industry have been increasingly spread thin.”

API listed four “concrete actions” the organization believes the Biden-Harris administration could immediately take to support American production.

They include conducting federal lease sales, completing a new five-year program for federal offshore leasing, supporting energy infrastructure, and reopening access to Alaska.

“The administration should reinstate the leases it suspended in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the permit development it approved in the National Petroleum Reserve,” API officials wrote.

“These were permitted with stringent environmental standards and could prove a significant source of domestic production over time.”

The post American Petroleum Institute Lays Out Solutions to Rising Gas Prices first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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