Can Everybody Please Be Normal About the WNBA?

Like many others, I was excited about the WNBA opening its doors to new fandom. The 2024-2025 season is coming off the headwinds of an NCAA women’s basketball tournament that drew record-high viewership and boasted an incredible draft class with players such as Angel Reese, Kamilla Cardosa, Cameron Brink, and the highly decorated Caitlin Clark. It felt like a perfect synergy, as the WNBA was experiencing record-high ratings. With more eyes, the hope is that you get fans that follow the new playe

‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ Unveils Another Side of George Miller's Cruel World and A Heroine Rising Within It

In 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Tom Hardy’s iteration of Mad Max tells Charlize Theron’s version of Furiosa, “Hope is a mistake. If you can’t fix what’s broken, you’ll go insane.” Throughout these projects, director George Miller’s visceral shows a world ravaged by catastrophe where hope is in short supply, much like the resources those who remain fight to the death over. In Fury Road, Max reluctantly joins Furiosa’s quest to mute the ghost voices in his mind of those he could not have, while Fu

The Ineffectiveness of 'Back To Black' and the Shortcomings of Biopic Depictions

Biographical dramas are a harrowing venture because you condense a person or collection of people’s history into a two-hour digestible medium. When the subject is no longer alive, that story becomes the amalgamation of thoughts and voices. There’s the director, the writer (or writing team), and the surviving members of that person (whether it be family, an estate, or a combination of both). Humans, especially musicians, have given us joy, but we are also complex individuals with ups and downs. I

'The Strangers: Chapter 1' Is Only Here To Justify The Films To Come After

It’s not just the terrifying means to the end that was the lifeblood of the effectiveness of the 2008 “The Strangers” original that made it so harrowing. There was also the randomness in which it occurred and the possibility of happening to any of us from a remote location. Within slasher/suspense films, the main antagonist usually has a motive. However, in this case, the chilling compass of the three masked killers is earmarked by one sentence; “Because you were home.” The attacks weren’t a res

'IF's Emotional and Imaginative Canvases Can't Seem To Co-Exist

As we age, many things tug at the threads of our imagination to which the semblance may barely exist. The capitalistic society of labor may dilute a sense of work/life balance to the point where we might refrain from indulging in the hobbies we love the most. On top of that is the truth that life is finite and that as we grow older, the loss of the people we love becomes more of a possibility. Sometimes, it’s in a prolonged matter; in other cases, it happens without warning. Nevertheless, it jos

'The Fall Guy's Quick Move To VOD Put Hollywood's Theatrical Still Shaky Relationship On Display

When I attended this year’s SXSW, ‘The Fall Guy’ was one of the films that received the most attention and had lines wrapped around the block to get into. Given the cast, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking this would be a surefire hit. You have Ryan Gosling fresh off the massive success of ‘Barbie,’ Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Winston Duke, and Hannah Waddingham as a great ensemble. The premise of a stuntman thrown into this over-the-top action conspiracy while trying to help his ex-girlfr

The Apple Fell Too Far From the Tree

From 1997 to 2002, Apple’s mythos was to “think different.” That slogan accompanied a commercial highlighting some of the 20th-century’s most significant figures, from Pablo Picasso to Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Jim Henson, and Frank Lloyd Wright. At that point, the company was on the precipice of redefining the concept of technology in our daily lives. There was the IMac, the early iteration of the Apple Store, Apple’s operating system, the iPod, and the Apple TV and iPhone soon a

'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' Still Has Something To Say

‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ could have elected to go the straightforward route in leveling the seesaw battle of dominance between highly evolved apes and humans that have switched places in the hierarchy of society. But Wes Ball’s installment, which takes place 300 years after 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes, exquisitely and smartly operates in grey. Within the center of Josh Friedman’s story is the overarching meaning of legacy and how it can be interpreted through generations. ‘K

'Mind Body Spirit' Takes A 'Hereditary' Sized Chunk Out of Wellness Culture

Sifting through influencer culture in conjunction with health advice might be horrific enough, but ‘Mind Body Spirit’ takes a ‘Paranormal Activity ‘-found footage stylistic choice and places it within the nightmare of a singular person searching for identity. There’s enough of a pitfall searching for yourself amongst the eyes and the dopamine of an audience—it’s a drug you’ll never seem to get enough of. Alex Henes and Matthew Merenda place this meta-commentary on the many states of wellness cha

Kendrick Lamar vs. Drake Also Dealt With Our Perception of Musical Output and Frequency

J. Cole’s now-taken-back diss track ‘7 Minute Drill’ had a couple of lines that some saw as criticism of Kendrick Lamar’s musical output. “He averagin’ one hard verse like every thirty months or somethin‘ /If he wasn’t dissin’, then we wouldn’t be discussin’ him.” It is the same sentiments that Drake said (in another deleted for different reasons), ‘Taylor Made Freestyle,’ “I guess you need another week to figure out how to improve / What the f*ck is taking so long? We waitin’ on you.” After “Li

'New Life's Cat-and-Mouse Story Peels Back To Reveal Something Engrossing

John Rosman’s ‘New Life’ opts for subtlety as it presents its main protagonists in what you think are two different paths that will eventually collide. On the one side, the audience sees the first visual of a blooded and out-of-breath Jessica (Hayley Erin) looking to escape something or someone. While languishing alone in the Pacific Northwest, she’s looking to get to Canada in a hurry. The only glimpse is a couple of armed men looking through her house as she escapes. What did Jess do that has

'Unfrosted' Is Better Left Kept In Its Silver Packaging

What if I told you there was a proxy war between Kellogg’s and Post as they raced to their version of the Pop-Tart out into the world in the early 1960s? Yes, the one you might have eaten this morning may have been a vehicle of contention during The Cold War if you take “Unfrosted: The Pop-Tarts Story” as gospel. In reality, the film stakes between the real and comedic device because it seeks a more compelling story than its subject matter allows. America was deep in the throes of adding cereal

'Tarot' Doesn't Shuffle The Deck To Unveil A Fresh Horror Fortune

If you come across an Ouija board or a stray tarot deck, it’s a consensus that you should leave it alone. Nothing good could come from trying to conjure up something for the thrill of it. But the rules don’t apply to a few college friends staying at an Airbnb for a birthday party in ‘Tarot.’ The co-writing and directing team of Spenser Cohen and Anna Halberg immediately drop you into the crux of the issue with a small inkling of emotionality that looks to tie a lot of often-seen horror thematic

Rewind/Rewatch: 'Hereditary' In IMAX

Rewind/Rewatch is a four-part limited series that examines recent films re-released to theaters, exploring how they’ve changed within pop culture and the meanings they carry years later.

In June 2018, I went to an 11 P.M. showing of Ari Aster’s Hereditary, not knowing what to expect. I may have watched the first trailer and heard some good things from when it screened at Sundance, but my first viewing was pretty cold. I’m a horror fan, so there was a huge chance I would see it anyway. With taki

'The Fall Guy' Is An Ode To Action Films and Those Who Make Them Possible

Wouldn’t it be great if a stunt person got the spotlight for once? I mean, they get into crazy car crashes, throw themselves out of airplanes at 20,000 ft, and take the fall to violently roll down many flights of stairs at the apex of our beloved fight scenes. Would it kill for more than just an acknowledgment at the end credits of a film? Well, Colt Seaver (Ryan Gosling) feels right being the top choice in this line of work as the long-time stunt double for A-list star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-J

Taylor Swift and The Tortured Critics Department

This post was first published at Capitalize the B Newsletter

Given the state of the many choices of social media platforms and their catering to a different piece of your attention, it’s been harder to cultivate communal moments like we used to. Fewer artists seemingly stop the world and invoke curiosity with each project they release. (Again, you can attribute this to how we receive and consume music). But this past Friday was different as Taylor Swift released her 11th full-length album, The

'Abigail' Is Part Old Inspiration, Another Frantic Energy

If there is anything Radio Silence (directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett) knows what to do, it’s creating a contained and zany horror film within a simplistic premise. It will be gory and also a lot of fun to be had. You might notice spiritual similarities if you are a fan of 2019’s ‘Ready or Not’. Yes, there is an ancient, sprawling mansion all the main characters go to. Oh, and don’t forget the supernatural element that attaches itself to the main problem, and a race against time

‘The Absence of Eden’s Immigration Call Ultimately Fizzles Out

Writer/director Marco Perego is aware that there is a layered conversation that often lacks empathy towards those affected in his directorial debut, ‘The Absence of Eden.’ He consciously decides to present the film from two perspectives that will naturally find ways to intertwine. At the center, there’s Texas, a contentious hotbed of the United States/Mexico border policy and disputes. On one side, an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agent, Shipp (Garrett Hedlund), is completing his tra

Let's Use The Excitement Around The 2024 WNBA Draft To Give The League Its Deserved Investment

Even before the 2024 WNBA Draft, there was excitement about the league’s future. Preceding all of this, the Women’s NCAA Championship and Tournament broke ratings records. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert spoke of expansion and the goal of making this a 16-team league by 2028. Warner Bros Discovery expressed interest in acquiring the U.S. broadcast rights, as noted by The Atlantic. Not to mention that the WNBA was about to welcome one of their most talented draft classes, with the likes of Cait

Grimes's Coachella Difficulties Show That Tech Shouldn't Supplant Craft

Coachella is never without news or surprises. However, one particular moment is drawing eyes other than the great No Doubt reunion, Blur’s perplexed reaction to the crowd, and Lauryn Hill’s appearance during her son YG Marley’s set. Nope, the topic of discussion is centered around Grimes and the number of “technical mishaps” surrounding her DJ set. She repeatedly apologized to the packed Sahara tent crowd, rage screamed at points, and apologized after her set. Mistakes happen, and I’ve been to s

J. Cole's Skill Will Live On, But This Was The Time To Cement Legend Status

We all love to see our favorite rappers at the top of their game and enter the lyrical ring if the moment calls for it. The “battle” is the essence of what hip-hop is built upon, and it wasn’t like we were going to see the likes of J. Cole, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar take things beyond the realm of the studio. The investment came to see the top dogs go line-for-line to see who can ultimately call themselves number one. That’s why Cole’s verse on “First Person Shooter” was so exciting to hear. It

'Civil War' and the Cost of the Desensitization To Violence

“I’ve never been scared like that before, and I’ve never felt more alive.” I’ve been meditating on why audiences flock to see a film like Alex Garland’s Civil War—especially when the scales of our democracy feel more lopsided by the day. Perhaps it’s answers or trying to use art as a crystal ball. Garland gave scant answers about what was happening in his film, which turned off some of the audience. If you make a grand political film, you might as well clearly define what you’re trying to say. T

Everybody Suffers When The Greats Can't Make The Art They Want

CinemaCon is an exciting time because it’s where motion picture studios show off the projects they are most excited about to The National Association of Theatre Owners. Since 2020, it’s been more of a reference point for these studios to keep reiterating that they are invested in bringing their stories to the theatrical experience first and foremost. With the weird world of streaming, ticket prices, and the ever-evolving thoughts on theater etiquette, the public might have a different opinion. N

Luca Guadagnino's 'Challengers' Brand of Sports, Sexuality, and Motivations Is A Winner

It would be wrong to quantify Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers as just a film about tennis, a love triangle, or a neat combination of those two different things in a tidy package. The brilliance of what Challengers is exists within the messiness of unquenchable desire as it pertains to athletic achievement and relationships. You almost have to look at it through the lens of the film’s very first scenes. It’s 2019, and Art Donaldson (Mike Faist) is hitting the tail end of his tennis career. As he’s
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About Me

Journalist, Self-published author of five books, podcast host, and photographer since 2014, Murjani Rawls has been stretching the capabilities of his creativity and passions. Rawls has as a portfolio spanning through many mediums including music, television, movies, and more. Operating out of the New York area, Rawls has photographed over 200+ artists spanning many genres, written over 800 articles, and a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic. His career aspirations continue to develop as his years in media continue.