Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Worth two hours of your time. In the Meantime finally makes its debut tomorrow night on UP TV. The film is from Nzinga Kadalie Kemp’s award-winning screenplay from the 2012 UP Faith & Family Screenplay Competition, the winner of which was announced at the American Black Film Festival.

The movie stars Kali Hawk (Fox’s New Girl) as Jazmin “Jazz” Welles, a modern young African-American woman whose picture-perfect life is suddenly upended by the one-two punch of being fired from her job and being told by her longtime fiancé, a pretentiously smug uber artist named Blac (Musiq Soulchild) that he needs to take a six-month break from seeing her so he can pursue his craft at a mountain retreat. With Blac out of the picture (at least temporarily), Jazz is forced to move in with her sister Nina (Terri J. Vaughn) and her husband Clay (Thomas Mikal Ford) who happens to be a minister.

Since Jazz finds herself with nothing to do, Nina recruits her to teach an adult literacy program at a local community center, run by Sister Fay (Elisabeth Omilami) and her adult daughter Felicia (Demetria McKinney) who is, let’s say, less  than committed than her mother to using the family-owned facility to help the poor.

Jazz reluctantly takes the job and finds herself paired with Kwame Davis (Darrin Dewitt Henson). Kwame is a career-focused attorney whose only involvement is part of an effort to please boss and make partner at the law firm. Jazz and Kwame work together to find new and creative ways to engage their students including, Minnie (Tamela Mann), a grandmother who yearns to read her Bible and be able to read the karaoke screen with her grandchildren, BJ (Rodney Perry), a West-African who is working to obtain his US citizenship and Frankie (David Mann), a former R&B artist who wants to stop relying on his children to get him through his daily tasks, like writing a check.

As Jazz and Kwame work together they find their own attitudes about life changing even as they find themselves reluctantly drawn to each other.

Mini-Review: Kali Hawk is extremely likable in the lead role and reminds me of a sort of young Mary Tyler Moore. She has an intelligent manner and a way with a punchline. Someone should build a series around her.

As for the movie itself, I find it to be the sort of quiet, easy-to-take film with a kind core that you just don’t see much of network TV these days. Yes, we’ve seen all this romantic triangle sort of fluff before — with the main twist here being that the audience is actually encouraged to route for lawyer guy over the artist guy.  It’s true that In the Meantime isn’t likely to set the world on fire but that really isn’t its purpose.  For a couple relaxing hours after a hard week at work it does the trick — and even accomplishes the UP TV mission of providing Uplifting Entertainment. And to me, that’s quite enough and is appreciated. Recommended.

In the Meantime debuts tomorrow night (Saturday, 8/17) @ 7:00 PM ET with encore airings immediately following at 9:00 PM and 11:00 PM ET.  It replays Sunday night (8/18) at the same times.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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