Kareem's Weekend Boost

5 Things to Watch, Read, or Listen to This Weekend (Sept. 30-Oct. 2)

Another weekend and I have a few suggestions I hope you’ll enjoy. I’d love to hear from you about your responses to these works. But only after you’ve tried them.

LISTEN (music)

Dear Love by Jazzmeia Horn and Her Noble Force

This September 2021 release showcases Horn’s tremendous range of vocal styles. Ably backed by Her Noble Force, Horn can give us traditional Ella Fitzgerald-type stylings on “Lover Come Back to Me” or the more vigorous power on “Where Is Freedom!?” Listening to this album is like spending an evening at a great jazz club.

You can listen to the song here:

One of the aspects of jazz that drew me to it so many years ago was how interwoven it is with Black culture. Jazz is a language as specific as English. It’s influenced by the folk music of Africa, but reinterprets that music to express what it is to be Black in America. To give Horn’s beautiful album some historic context, here is South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba, nicknamed Mama Africa, singing the Xhosa song, “Qongqothwane,” known as “The Click Song,” because English speakers couldn’t pronounce it.

You can listen to the song here:


Love on the Spectrum (Netflix)

Now in its second season, this Australian reality show about young people on the autism spectrum looking for love puts most other reality shows to shame. After watching the open honesty and sincerity of these mostly twentysomethings, it’s hard to look at the entitled, whiny, bratty cast of other romance-based shows who are looking for Instagram followers more than love. You can’t get through a single episode without feeling a deep emotional connection to the cast and rooting for them to connect with someone else. It is the Super Bowl of reality shows in which the stakes couldn’t be higher and our hearts couldn’t be more committed.

Watch trailer here:

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WATCH (movie)

The Card Counter (2021) written and directed by Paul Schrader

Like my selection of Pig last week, The Card Counter is a story of redemption rather than revenge. Writer/director Paul Schrader, who wrote the intense and impeccable Taxi Driver, The Card Counter shares some of the same DNA as Taxi Driver, but is a much more sophisticated and ultimately satisfying film. William Tell (Oscar Isaac) is a professional gambler who has served eight years in a military prison for atrocities committed on prisoners. Horrified at his own crimes, he lives the life of a monkish penitent, alone and without personal relationships. Until he has a shot at redemption by saving the misguided son of a fellow torturer. Where Travis Bickle’s suicidal mission was based on his inability to articulate his frustrations and lack of self-worth, Tell is very articulate. His act of violence is about justice, not revenge.

Watch the trailer here:

READ (novella)

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

Flynn’s first novel, Sharp Objects, is that rare and treasured accomplishment, the literary mystery. Her short novella, The Grownup, is just as amazing and memorable. Originally published as a short story in an anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, The Grownup follows a sex worker who retires due to carpal tunnel syndrome from her job. Now she reads auras, a con she learned as a child from her mother. Until she gets hired to seek out ghosts in an old Victorian house and stumbles into something more sinister. The plot crackles, but what’s especially rewarding is Flynn’s sharp sense of humor and poetic prose style.

Get book here.

READ (graphic novel)

Batman by John Ridley

You saw right: the face of Batman on the cover is a Black face. Written by the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave, this Batman is Jace Fox, the disaffected son of Bruce Wayne’s close ally Lucius Fox. Jace’s ascension to becoming Batman is also a story of redemption. Not just a crime fighter facing over-the-top super-villains, Jace seeks to protect Gotham by battling crime, but also by fighting social inequities. The plots are just as exciting, but Jace’s personal challenges as a Black man give the comic extra depth.

Get book here.