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“Concrete Cowboy” Movie Review: Taking the Scenic Route Through Netflix’s Newest Addition

written by Betti Halsell

Ricky Staub’s Concrete Cowboy unearths multiple traumas,  both in the broadening range of African-American culture and the complex circumstances of Black men and their perspective within a household setting. 

The film opens up with Cole (Caleb McLaughlin), a 15-year old boy sitting outside the principal’s office. His face bruised and bleeding from a fight he had with another kid – a moment that keeps repeating itself. His mother arrives, looking more discouraged as if she’s been called to the principal’s office one too many times herself.

Cole is a kid unable to see the consequences of his personal choices. He is full of anger and entitlement. Being a child from a broken home, he leads his life with the “right” to act out. His mother, unable to come up with another excuse for her son’s behavior, sees that Cole stays with his father for the summer in Philadelphia. This might sound like a familiar pivot to a teen-angst-driven film, but here is where things get interesting – the 15-year-old finds himself staring at the truth of his reality, coming straight from the horse’s mouth.

His father (played by Idris Elba) takes him in, and the two of them seem to forge an understanding through hardships and repeated history, a not-so-far-off truth between Black fathers and their sons that are looking to become men, Cole comes from a line of Black horse riders that live in the city.

The cinematography captures breathtaking landscapes and frameworks that seem almost otherworldly. Although the movie captivates the audience with its raw truth of reality, many people may know nothing about. Some questions that needed further explanation were left unanswered, for example, how old was Cole when his parents separated and he moved away from Philidelphia? Or when did Cole develop his summer fling when he returned to the city ranch?

Survival is the common denominator in the movie and its message, which spells out how lack of resources affects the living conditions and the quality of a person’s life and their community. 

In Concrete Cowboy, Stranger Things‘ Mclaughlin introduces the viewers to a wider acting range while playing Cole. British chameleon Elba plays Harp, Cole’s father. He also produced the film. Other cast includes Jharrel Jerome as Cole’s childhood best friend Smush, Lorraine Toussaint as the community’s ‘mother,’ Nessie, and rapper Method Man as town sheriff Leroy.

Staub highlights the Black cowboy community through this project. Reports say the director stumbled upon the culture after seeing a man on a horse in Philadelphia. He then researched the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, which led him to Greg Neri’s book, Ghetto Cowboy

The truth behind this movie leaves the audience enamored, and the images of beauty found in the concrete prairie of Philadelphia are masterpieces. The sunsets and the grading of color are painted effortlessly as if the setting was no longer the city but rather the natural breeding ground for a cowboy to lay his hat.

Concrete Cowboy is now available for streaming on Netflix. Watch the trailer below.

Film & Television

Jaden Smith’s Restaurant To Serve Vegan Meals To The Homeless

Jaden Smith is opening his first restaurant to provide displaced people with free vegan meals.

The actor and musician has already been helping the houseless community since the launch of his ‘I Love You’ food truck in the Los Angeles Skid Row area back in 2019.

“It’s for homeless people to get free food,” the young activist told Variety, “But if you’re not homeless, not only do you have to pay, but you have to pay for more than the food’s worth so that you can pay for the person behind you.”

There’s no word on where the 22-year-old’s eatery will be located or when it’s set to open. We will keep you posted!

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Film & Television

‘Bridgerton’ Spinoff Centered On Young Queen Charlotte Is In The Works

Netflix has announced Bridgerton‘s first spin-off! The prequel will center on the young Queen Charlotte and her love life. Shonda Rhimes will pen the script and executive produce the limited series.

The streamer’s official account tweeted on Friday, “All Hail The Queen! Thrilled to announce we’re expanding the Bridgerton universe with a limited series that will tell Queen Charlotte’s origin story — the series will also feature young Violet Bridgerton and young Lady Danbury.”

The Queen, played by the brilliant Golda Rosheuvel, became a fan favorite in the record-breaking show, which was seen by 80+ million households.

The streaming giant purposely cast a Black actress for the role, as historians believe The real-life Queen Charlotte was, indeed, of African descent. “It was very much a conscious choice, not a blind choice,” Bridgerton author Julia Quinn said, “Many historians believe she had some African background. It’s a highly debated point, and we can’t DNA test her, so I don’t think there’ll ever be a definitive answer.” 

The upcoming second season of Bridgerton will be based on Quinn’s second book, The Viscount Who Loved Me. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rhimes plans to produce eight seasons of the drama — one for each book in author Quinn’s series, with seasons 3 and 4 already confirmed.

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Film & Television

Meghan Markle To Release Her Debut Children’s Book

The soon-to-be mother of two will also narrate the audiobook version

The actress-turned-duchess is adding a new title to her post-royal résumé. Markle is releasing her debut children’s book, The Bench.

Inspired by her husband Prince Harry and baby Archie, the book will reportedly focus on the special bond between a father and son, viewed through a mother’s eyes.

The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born,” the new author shared in a statement. “That poem became this story. Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolor illustrations that capture the warmth, joy, and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life; this representation was particularly important to me, and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens. My hope is that The Bench resonates with every family, no matter the makeup, as much as it does with mine.”

Published by Random House Children’s Books, the book is illustrated by award-winning artist Christian Robinson.

The Bench will be published on June 8.

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