March 06, 2014
LAWT Wire Services
NEW ORLEANS — A cold, gray day greeted revelers — but didn’t deter them — along parade routes Tuesday as the Carnival season in New Orleans headed to a crest with the unabashed celebration of Mardi Gras.
The first street marching groups, including clarinetist Pete Fountain’s Half-Fast Walking Club, were to begin their marches along oak-lined St. Charles Avenue and into the business district.
The Zulu parade began on schedule, led by a New Orleans police vanguard on horseback that included Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Later, the floats of Rex — the king of Carnival — and hundreds of truck trailers decorated by family and social groups would wind down St. Charles Avenue.
Rain fell, and umbrellas and raincoats sprouted along the parade route. Sleet was falling on some merrymakers in areas north and west of the city.
But revelers gathered by the thousands in the French Quarter, where the bawdy side of Mardi Gras would surely be on full display.
Mark Nelson of St. Louis said he would be in the mix even in a downpour for his first Mardi Gras.
“That’s why God made washing machines,” Nelson said as he sipped on a daiquiri.
Revelers lined up near a stand on Bourbon Street where artist Gail Vertucci was painting Carnival masks on faces.
“These people are crazy,” she said. “They’ll get painted no matter what. It doesn’t matter if it’s pouring rain, these people will line up all day long.”
Die-hards braved the weather in costume in the Quarter.
The weather wasn’t going to stop them.
“We’ll drink, drink, drink until it gets drier,” said Dean Cook of New Orleans as he walked Bourbon Street dressed as a pirate with vampire fangs.
“Mermaids love the water,” he said of his wife, Terrina Cook, who was dressed in a shiny blue mermaid costume, complete with a fin.
Along the Uptown parade route, Carol LeBlanc and husband Hov LeBlanc of New Orleans were strolling along St. Charles Avenue with friends Vicki and Duane O'Flynn from Arabi, La. The troupe was dressed as scarecrows, stuffed with grass and wearing plaid pants and tattered coveralls.
The cold weather wasn’t worrying LeBlanc. “I’ve got my long johns on,” she said.
Nearby, April Womack and her family had tents set up. Grills were fired up, and pots of crawfish were boiling. They camped overnight, a family tradition for almost two decades. “It’s all about location,” she said.
Her cousin, Yolanda Moton, said Mardi Gras is the opportunity for an annual family reunion, with relatives coming from as far away as Georgia. “This is the one time of the year that everyone in the family fits this in their schedule.”
Sue and Kevin Preece from Edmonton, Canada, were at their first Mardi Gras.
“We wanted to come for Mardi Gras for about 10 years. It was on my bucket list, and he (Kevin) made it happen,” said Sue Preece, a social worker.
Ronnie Davis, a professor of economics at the University of New Orleans, decided to break his button-down image for at least one day. Clad in tutus, he and his wife, Arthurine, strolled through a rain-thinned crowd.
“All year I have to dress professionally. This is the one time I get to act like a fool,” Davis said.
Celebrations were scheduled throughout south Louisiana and in coastal Mississippi and Alabama, sharing the traditions brought by French colonists in the 18th century.
In Louisiana’s bayou parishes, riders on horseback would go from town to town, making merry in what is called the Courir du Mardi Gras.
The merriment must come to a halt at midnight, when the solemn season of Lent begins. New Orleans police were expected to sweep down Bourbon Street at midnight in the annual ritual of letting revelers know the party is over for another year.
The Zulu krewe’s 2014 Witch Doctor, Derek Rabb, said he was charged with praying for the krewe’s good health and good weather on Mardi Gras. “By God’s grace, there will be sun,” he said.
When out of costume, Rabb works at New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. A member of the organization for the past eight years, he said being in such a high-profile position has been an experience he won’t soon forget.
“It’s been a whole lot of fun,” he said. “It’s allowed me to meet some really interesting people.”
Kitty Jensen, of Washington, D.C., said she and about 15 others from the nation’s capital were part of the Kilt of Many Colors and were scheduled to march in the Rex parade.
“We are the party that never ends,” said Jensen, dressed in an airy, royal purple ball gown, reminiscent of the Renaissance era.
Therapist Thomas Carter (Anthony Mackie) has just published a popular self-help book about the near death experience which helped him turn his life around. He is proud of the fact that after almost perishing in a horrific, alcohol-related car crash in his teens, he eventually not only earned graduate degrees in World Religion and Clinical Psychology but went on to wed his soul mate, Maggie (Sanaa Lathan).
Today, Tommy has a happy marriage and a flourishing practice founded on a spiritual philosophy combining faith and positive thinking. But sadly, his enviable fortunes have proven to be the polar opposite of his wayward brother Ben’s (Mike Epps) lot.
The recently-paroled ex-con was barely back on the streets before word of a $12,000 bounty being placed on his head spread around their native New Orleans. So, when Ben approaches his successful sibling for enough cash to keep his bloodthirsty adversaries at bay, empathetic Thomas opts to raise the ransom by extending the best-selling tome’s publicity tour.
At a local book signing, he is approached for an autograph by a fan also urgently in need of 1-on-1 counseling. Against his better judgment, the literary rock star agrees to see Angel Sanchez (Forest Whitaker) as a patient, since the $300/session fee definitely will put a dent in brother Ben’s debt.
Even worse is Dr. Carter’s fateful decision to make house calls to the home of this loner left devastated by the death of his mother (Adella Gautier). For, although it might be easy to diagnose the source of the deeply-disturbed man’s anguish, the only hint that he’s at the end of his emotional rope is his estrangement from his wife (Nicole Ari Parker) and young daughter (Ariana Neal).
The plot thickens when Angel takes his new shrink hostage, tying him up in his basement-turned-makeshift torture chamber. The psycho proceeds to behave sadistically while conveniently managing to keep up appearances for the sake of any visitors and passersby.
Directed by Philippe Caland (Ripple Effect), “Repentance” is a momentarily-intriguing psychological thriller that establishes a compelling premise only to morph into an otherworldly horror flick. Over the course of this rudderless adventure, Forest Whitaker ultimately finds himself abandoned by an implausible script.
The Silence of the Butler!
Fair (1.5 stars)
Rated R for profanity, violence and torture
Running time: 90 minutes
Studio: Code Black Films
Distributor: Lionsgate Films
To see a trailer for “Repentance,” visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwBgGZIzliw.
LAWT News Service
Lincoln Motor Company was the presenting sponsor for ESSENCE’s 7th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon at The Beverly Hills Hotel.
The 2014 ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon honored three outstanding women: director/writer, Ava DuVernay; Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President, Cheryl Boone Issacs; and “12 Years a Slave” actress, Lupita Nyong’O. Lincoln had the honor of awarding Ava DuVernay with the 2014 Black Women in Hollywood Visionary Award. The award was co-presented by ABC’s “Scandal” actress, Kerry Washington.
50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the event also paid tribute to legendary performers who were champions of the Civil Rights movement, including: Diahann Carroll, Nichelle Nichols, Jim Brown, Denise Nicholas and Clarence Williams III.
One lucky winner of Lincoln’s #shinelikeastar Instagram contest was able to attend the event and take in the Lincoln experience with a guest. Celebrity guests like Ava DuVernay, Bevy Smith, Denise Nicholas, Nichelle Nichols and others arrived to the event in the 2014 Lincoln MKZ.
ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon, now in its seventh year, is noted as one of the must-attend events during Oscar week.
By Kam Williams
Bill Marks’ (Liam Neeson) life went into a tailspin after his young daughter lost her battle with childhood leukemia. The inconsolable police officer has since sought solace in a bottle of alcohol, an addiction which cost him his marriage and career.
Today, the ex-cop is lucky to be employed as an air marshal, a job he decided to take despite a terrible fear of takeoffs. On this particular evening, he’s been assigned to protect a packed transatlantic flight from New York to London.
The trip starts out uneventfully enough, with Bill hiding his identity while making the acquaintance of the attractive passenger (Julianne Moore) sitting next to him. However, a crisis arises over the middle of the ocean soon after he receives a text from an anonymous caller claiming to be in the cabin and threatening to murder a passenger every 20 minutes unless $150 million is deposited into an offshore bank account.
Initially, he dismisses the message as a prank on the part of the only colleague (Anson Mount) aboard the plane, since a breach of the supposedly-impenetrable federal network is almost impossible and a criminal offense to boot. Nevertheless, once the first victim does indeed die, Bill realizes he has an urgent emergency on his hands.
Who might the hijacker be? The Muslim (Omar Metwally) sporting a skullcap? The trash-talking black teenager (Corey Hawkins) reluctant to surrender his cell phone? Somebody else? Of course, the actual perpetrator won’t be easy to pinpoint in this ever-escalating, deadly game of cat and mouse.
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Non-Stop is yet another adrenaline-fueled vehicle featuring Liam Neeson. The surprising success of Taken, has belatedly turned the rugged Irishman into an action star, as reflected in subsequent similar outings in The A-Team, Taken 2, Unknown, and the upcoming Run All Night.
Here, Neeson safely sticks close to the Taken formula, starting with his character’s name (Bill Marks as opposed to Bryan Mills) and his playing a broken soul in need of redemption. Again, he rises to the occasion in tough, two-fisted fashion, though also exhibiting a vulnerability certain to move you to tears during the closing credits.
Besides an engaging premise and a satisfying resolution, Non-Stop is blessed with an inscrutable plot which delicately ratchets up the tension as it winds its way towards an unpredictable denouement. Thus, the picture unfolds less like a mob scene disaster flick than a cleverly-concealed whodunit where everybody with a phone is a suspect.
Cells on a plane!
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sensuality, profanity, intense violence and drug use
Running time: 106 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures
To see a trailer for “Non-Stop,” visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nODrjQUR5YU
The newest vehicle from The Lincoln Motor Company – the Lincoln MKC – shared the spotlight with some of today’s most impactful and inspiring talents as part of ESSENCE magazine’s 7th annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel on February 27.
Lincoln partnered with TV host and social media personality Bevy Smith on the pre-event Lincoln Blogger Bar. To celebrate Lincoln’s fifth year of involvement, Lincoln held the “Shine Like A Star” contest on ESSENCE.com for its readers. The winner received a VIP trip to attend the event as an exclusive guest of Lincoln, a red carpet makeover and dinner at an LA hotspot.
Three of the year’s most impactful and inspiring talents were honored with the Black Women in Hollywood Award: 2014 Academy Award nominee Lupita Nyong’o (Best Breakthrough Performance); Cheryl Boone Isaacs (Trailblazer Award) and Ava DuVernay (Visionary Award, presented by Lincoln).
In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the event also paid tribute to legendary performers who were champions of the Civil Rights movement, including: Diahann Carroll, Nichelle Nichols, Jim Brown, Denise Nicholas and Clarence Williams III.
“This year’s Black Women in Hollywood program especially resonates with Lincoln because it celebrates today’s exciting and talented performers while also recognizing important contributions that laid the groundwork for wonderful work we all can enjoy,” said Shawn Thompson, Lincoln manager, multicultural marketing.
“Today’s Lincoln brand celebrates a heritage nearly a century in the making while creating premium vehicles and experiences for a new luxury customer.”
The all-new Lincoln MKC, the brand’s first small premium utility vehicle, was revealed late last year in New York City. It will be on sale later this year.
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