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#AFrankieTale

A Frankie Tale

Movie of The Year!

It’s Friday the 13th and the only thing on my mind is not to see a black cat, walk underneath a ladder, or spill any table salt. As of course the very, very, very ancient superstiuos me comes to life on this day. It’s the good ole’ American Legend of the “Day of Bad Luck.” But I thought I was safe, seeing as though I was about to have an amazing date night with an amazingly handsome and sweet guy (I just love to write about my crushes anonymously; it makes YOU…THE READER that much more nosey and in my business that I still won’t share with you. Hahaha.) to the movies. Omg! Can you say High school!? I love dates to the movies, it’s sucha tribute to the old days. Fuck Netflix and Chill right!? GET OUT THE DAM HOUSE YOU FREAKS! Haha. But whereas I thought nothing can possibly go wrong bercuase I was being taken to see a VERY HIGHLY ANTICIPATED movie, I was sooooo wrong. Looks like Friday the 13th showcased it’s “Bad Luck Mojo” via my movie selection.

If you’re wondering what movie could I have possibly seen that “Bad Luck” is the first thing that comes to mind, let me forewarn you….my heart was crushed because I had 4 of my favorites in the Cast. (And by favorites, I mean people that I admire but don’t actually know….YET! I am speaking it into existence!) If you are a fan of Frankie, and you may know who some of my “favorites” are. So this review will TOTALLY SHOCK YOU! I was left with little excitement and 100% disappointment. In fact, let me make this relatable: Have you ever watched Previews to a Movie then watch the actual movie and feel like you saw the whole movie already via the previews? Welp, this was JUST THAT! A whole lotta Hype for a totally overrated movie. If you haven’t guessed already, I’m talking about none other than the Hustlers film starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, Cardi B, Lizzo, Lili Reinhart, & Julia Stiles, which debuted this past Friday….on Bad Luck day. That is NO coincidence.

Okay, so let’s start with the story-line…

Hustlers, which is based on a New York Magazine article, is superficially about a group of 2007–2008–era strippers, led by a woman named Ramona (Lopez), who begin drugging men with deep pockets after the financial crisis, maxing out their cards at the club and taking a cut for themselves. Basically, the strip club trap of the early 2000’s. The film walks us through the lens of the “New Girl”, Destiny (Wu) who is acclimating herself to the stripper culture and lifestyle.

The films open with choppy scenes of Destiny’s everyday struggle. A grandmother she financially supports and maintains and an outlook on the world of stripping through her very innocent and frail nature, and her blossoming into a fraud sex worker professional. The strippers’ red-light-district escapades interweave with stories told by Destiny, revealed through a series of interview question interactions with a journalist, Elizabeth (Julia Stiles, portraying New York’s Jessica Pressler), who’s interested in the scheme she hatched with Ramona.

Destiny, struggling to find her rightful place in the strip club, leans to Ramona for inspiration and guidance. In a scene where Ramona is introduced to us, she takes to the pole for her Featured Performance, leaving Destiny in gazing amazement, by her remarkable abilities and talents working the pole. This of course leads us into their relationship, which ultimately drives the film’s storyline, with Romona as the ring leader and Destiny as the newbie in the strip club.

Let’s talk acting….

For starters, WHAT A CAST! I mean they really nailed it with this one! But before I get you all hype…RELAX! I was NOT thatttt impressed. To begin with, since when were small acting roles equivalent to “starring” in a film??? Could someone please call the movie critic hotline and explain. I was upset that soooooo much hype was built around Cardi B’s and Lizzo’s characters and they were literally in the movie for 5 minutes. Maybe 10….and that’s me being modest. They were obviously for marketing purposes

Let’s talk start with Jenny From The Block herself…

Now I am an AVID fan of JLo in practically anything she does. But I must say, this was an interesting role to watch her portray. Because Ramona was not necessarily a “hero” nor “villain”, it was interesting seeing her be this badass stripper godmother who led the pack of scamming strippers in the film. Ramona had a very caring yet conniving sense of being. Throughout the film, she served as the voice of the voiceless and the champion in scamming the Wall Street moguls. I do think JLo did a remarkable job as a dancer, as it spoke volumes in her athleticism. However, I did not like that the film gave us all her POLE features in ALL of the Previews! Like WTF!? JLo practiced for months to only give us her award winning pole performance 10 minutes into the film, for all but 2 minutes? Thanks alot JLO. Bulto!

Ramona was a true hustler, who gave no fucks about the men who traversed in and out of the club. But I must say, it was a little hard to find her hardcore acting, truly hardcore. Perhaps its because I am so used to seeing JLo in a “She-ro” or nurturing and sweet protagonist role and not a badass or urban role. Her alter ego gave very old school stripper vibes (I honestly envision her like that if she weren't famous), where she was portrayed as the ring leader due to the years of experience under her belt. However, the movie was mostly HER! It was almost as if she was the script hog, because she was seen and heard more than anyone else on the film. Her interactions with other elements of the film were minimal and her approach to adversity always ended with her winning and coming out on top. Not saying that’s not possible, but is that really how the story went? Was nothing in Ramona’s life shady or rusty? She was almost the depiction of stripper perfection, even after she was arrested and charged with criminal fraud. Her character was cool, but way too fictional and pretentious. I cannot believe this may be Oscar-worthy and is being spoken of as "HER BEST WORK YET". What are these critics on and what are they watching? We can't be watching the same movie.

***Btw, to all my non-hip readers....

H.B.I.C= Head Bitch in Charge

Moving on to Lizzo…

…who uncreatively was named “Liz” for this film. Sis was literally HERSELF in the film….FLUTE & ALL! Was it entertaining? Of course it was, but I’d be lying if I said it was a dope addition to the cast. Furthermore, her involvement was unrealistic. Throughout the course of my career as a freelance journalist, I actually interviwed 3-4 strippers and asked them this very questions: “Are there really women Lizzo’s size dancing the pole.” And after a few stares and laughs at my inquiry, the answer was consistently “No.” Don’t get it twisted, I am all for body positivity and diverse figures (shit, I BETTER be with these caramel thunder thighs and size 13 pants ASS!) but I am NOT a fan of fictionalizing a TRUE STORY, with unrealistic elements. Even if her character was for comedic relief (which it most likely was) when the hell have you ever seen a stripper playing the flute? It was just sooooo Lizzo and as aforementioned, forced. It seems as if the Producers wanted to create diversity amongst the dancers and hopped on the “Plus Movement” train by casting one of America’s most beloved Recording Artists of NOW and TODAY. Needless to say, this was def an effort to get more traction to the movies. But don’t worry yall, Lizzo was shown on the pole for all but 3 seconds. Even as fans of the artist, there was nothing to look forward to with sucha small and insignificant role. They played us with those previews.

On to Hip-Hop’s favorite lady right now….CARDI B!

Just why? This was such a trashy and rushed attempt to introduce her to the world of acting, which by the way…she did none of. Cardi’s character, Diamond, was a stripper from the Bronx who’s main objective in the film was to teach Destiny how to be sexier. (But only for like 3 minutes in a scene…literally) In the movie, we are introduced to Diamond with a one-liner: “Watch it, bitch” as she pulls away Destiny from an old fart she is luring and dancing for in the opening snippets of Destiny’s story. This was her first appearance on the screen. Moments

later, (maybe 10 minutes into the film) Diamond returns to the big screen as Ramona offers Destiny pole lessons of the various movement techniques. Even the way Ramona officially introduces Diamond felt forced and awkward. We all know Cardi B as that loud, ex-stripper from the BRONX and that is exactly who and what she was….her [old] [stripper] self. “Destiny, you know Diamond from the Bronx right?” is the line Ramona uses to bring Cardi’s character to life. I’m thinking: YES JLO, WE KNOW CARDI! WTF!? NOT EVEN A MAKE-BELIEF BOROUGH THOUGH!? DAMMMMMM……(In MY Smokey from Friday voice)

As soon as Cardi spoke, I felt like I was right back at Love and Hip Hop New York. She was outrageously flamboyant and carried a very cunning freak-like nature. I’d be lying if I said she wasn’t funny, because she’s Cardi B…of course she was! But she brought NO zest to the film, but rather the same ole her we are used to. You would think she’d have a little bit more of a pivotal part in the film, being that this is the life she comes from- but you can tell sis musta have recorded for literally 1 day. Her character was SOOOOOOOOOO Cardi, she even had her wedding ring on in the film (they shoulda just kept her name honestly). Like seriously? What stripper has a ring like that? Why didn’t anyone catch that minor detail? And in light of the story line….who was Diamond married to with that big ass diamond ring on her finger? (See what I did there?!) It was just too Cardi-ish, I felt like she didn’t SELL me the Hustlers Story, but rather hers.

***Before #BardiGang come on with a never ending tangent

like these titties below....

....I know Cardi declined further involvement in the film to pursue her music festival tours and LIVE concerts instead. BUT....this is #aFrankieTale and I said what I said! Even with minimal involvement, more could have came from Cardi to contribute to this film. PERIODT!

To add a little more insult to injury, Cardi’s next part in the film consisted of her appreciation and praise for her “dildo boyfriend.” The scene was depicting a backstage moment the strippers were having before going on stage, when Diamond jumps on her soapbox to brag about how faithful her man is. {I.e. The dildo] Again, it was just so forced and familiar, she was

literally herself. I found it hard to appreciate her comedic character because I have higher expectations from a movie, especially one with JLo in charge. I was looking forward to seeing a different side or perhaps a more appealing side to her in this role, but instead I just felt like I was watching her Instragram Live as she whined on JLo and praised her dildo. In a nutshell, that was all Cardi did. Her camera time lasted literally 5-10 minutes; tops. This too, HAD TO be to drive sales. I know a lot of #BardiGang fans were pissed! Haha….jokes on YOU BUD!

Moving on to the random Cameo of the King of STD ….I mean RnB. The one who "Makes it Burn", Usher.

In short, who the fuck casted this guy? I mean don’t get me wrong, I love me some Usher. But can his STD reputation die down a little bit before putting him in a movie where his primary role was to play himself, in a SEXUALIZED SETTING….making it rain in the strip club!? I woulda loved to see anyone BUT a controversial artist of today up there. But hmm….maybe it’s cause he was popping around that time. I don’t know. His cameo was cute…just very random and very sudden. I did however love that the film did NOT spoil his cameo though. It gave me something to look forward to that I have not seen in the previews yet. (See there's some good)

Then there’s the actually choppy plot….

To read critics call this “Oscar-Worthy” and empowering for women worries me about the future of tomorrow. How is a movie that glorifies drugging and robbing men empowering? Even if it’s a flipped narrative on doing bad to the “bad guys”, this does not justify the actions. It was still the strippers who decided to drug and rob men, to fit the narrative of doing what it takes “because their lives were hard and they needed to do it to survive” (which while plausible, is still a horrible reality). The men they targeted were indeed assholes. However, they are still human beings; NO ONE deserves to be drugged and robbed. Yet this film is presenting it in an inspiring and empowering light, glorifying scammer, sex worker culture. The Producers even managed to cast even got Cardi B, who committed these criminal acts in real life.

Let’s Pause for a moment and ponder on this ideology...

IMAGINE IF THE GENDERS IN THIS MOVIE

WERE REVERSED!?

Let’s take Magic Mike for example, a very popular (if not the only SOLE film) movie based on the true story of Actor Channing Tatum’s life during his stripper days in Tampa, Florida.

CASE IN POINT: If the strippers were male and the victims were women who were total bitches (like the asshole men), the men would've been arrested in an instant! Howver, in this film, of course FEMINISM is usued as a means to create the false narrative of Women Empowerment. In hindsight, since they're women targeting men, they get off scott free. How cinderella like of Hollywood and the REAL WORLD! I guess they did the White thing....I mean the RIGHT thing.

**Alright, we are reaching the end of this negativity train...don't worry....**

My final issue with this movie,

is the FALSE narrative it depicts & creates...

Upon doing some research about the making of the film, I ran into a TMZ interview with Samantha Barbash, the real Ramona, played by JLO. And let me tell you, she was not happy.

"Cardi B should have played my role."

Barbash explains the film completely create a falsified storyline by converting Ramona into a stripper. Here we are, expecting this film to stay true to it's "true story" nature, and the writer's room is just making shit up as they go. The fact that the entire marketing for this film revolved around stripper culture and Cardi B starring in a film where she has avid experience, is beyond me. I know Hollywood has an obvious reputation for making everything "Hollywood", but this totally threw me off. At MINIMUM I expected the stripper story-line to be backed by some realism at true events. This is Fiction at it's finest.

"I have never been on a stripper pole in my life."

All in all...

If I had to recommend you a stripper movie to watch, I'd refer you to Player's Club. A movie that shows the GRIT, GUTS, and talent it takes to survive stripper culture. Hustlers, I'm sorry, but this was simply an attempt for JLO to come to Cardi's rescue by glorifying the narrative of #SurvivingCardiB and converting it into a story of women empowerment. This film will do nothing short of normalizing yet again ANOTHER horrendous reality in our culture.

Cheers to SLUTTY, SCAM Kulture!

(Haha...it's a cool play on words, put that shoe down Cardi.)

Thanks for making it to the end pupils...

This is #aFrankieTale, get a peek inside my head!

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