BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: ‘Sylvie’s Love,’ ‘Small Axe’ among Faves of 2020

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By Bill Vaughan

Entertainment Writer

See anything good this year? Seems like home entertainment went up a notch with many of us perched in front of our personal screens.

On the movie front, Tasty Clips Faves of 2020 must start with Barry Jenkins’ “Small Axe” films for Amazon Prime. Standing out are his British West Indian house party set “Lover’s Rock” and the fact-based “Mangrove.” Should there be any doubts about Letitia Wright’s acting ability, this must be presented as Exhibit A.

The streaming service also gets high marks for the beautifully done “Sylvie’s Love” and documentary “Time;” as does Apple TV+ for “The Banker,” starring Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson and Nia Long.

Kudos to Netflix for the very creepy “His House,” sommelier drama ”Uncorked,” Chris Hemsworth actioner “Extraction,” David E. Talbert’s new holiday classic “Jingle Jangle,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods.” If Chadwick Boseman is not recognized for his performances in the latter two films, something is seriously wrong.

Disney+ got us all excited with its premiere of the Broadway hit “Hamilton” and followed with Beyonce’s excellent visual album, “Black Is King.”

“First Cow” is highly recommended for our history buffs and foodies alike. Its depiction of early America is unique in showing us just how deep some things go back.

British import “Rap Story,” HBO Max’s “Bad Education” and “American Pickle,” “The Invisible Man,” “Justice League Dark (which is the DC Comics’ equivalent of Marvel’s “EndGame,” albeit animated), the surprisingly funny “Snoob,” charmingly raw “Miss Juneteenth” and documentaries “Mr. SOUL!” and “John Lewis: Good Trouble” round out those films that entertained and informed.

Some limited series excelled on TV this year. including Hulu’s Kerry Washington throwdown “Little Fires Everywhere,” Showtime’s “The Good Lord Bird,” and Netflix’ “The Queen’s Gambit.”

HBO newcomers “Lovecraft Country,” “Betty,” and “The Flight Attendant” delivered, in addition to Starz’ “P-Valley,” CBS All Access’ “The Good Fight” and Disney+’s “The Mandalorian.”

DINING: Big ups to James Beard-nominated Chef Greg Collier and business partner/wife Subrina Collier for their modern juke joint Leah and Louise in Charlotte, North Carolina’s trendy Camp North End development.  Dishes like the Cornbread Brioche with Black Garlic Butter, Mud Island Catfish and their extraordinary slow roasted cabbage merit return visits.

FOOD: World acclaimed West African author, activist and Chef Pierre Thiam has introduced Yolélé Foods, presenting one of that region’s unsung supergrains — fonio. Bringing gourmet flavors from the motherland such as his hometown Dakar Curry, the tomato based Jollof, onion, lime and chili Yassa, moringa and spinach laden Greens, and the herbal Afro-Funk, the line (available online and at Whole Foods) is a perfect alternative to couscous and quinoa.

GoodFish.com may have solved the problem of unhealthy snacking with their Crispy Salmon Skins made from 100% sustainably caught wild Alaska Sockeye. Fans of fried chips and rinds like moi can down this satisfying morsel of protein in flavors such as Sea Salt, Spicy BBQ, Chili Lime and more guilt free.

BOOKS: “The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food: A Cookbook” by Marcus Samuelsson; “Sittin’ In” Jazz Clubs of The 1940s and 1950s” by Jeff Gold; “Poilâne: The Secrets of the World-Famous Bread Bakery” by Apollonia Poilâne and Philippe Santamaria; and “A Song For You: My Life With Whitney Houston” by Robyn Crawford.    

And now some 2020 FAVES from this year’s esteemed celebrity observers:

JEAN-PAUL ‘BLUEY’ MAUNICK – Musician/Composer/Band Leader (Incognito, “Tinted Sky”) – FILM: In the absence of cinema… “The Mandalorian” (Though a TV series, it’s as good as the first three “Star Wars” movies and better than all the others). Also, “David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet” BOOK: “Small Hours: The Long Night of John Martyn” by Graeme Thomson  ALBUM: “What Kinda Music” by Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes  DINING: Umu London (Japanese food)

TIM REID – Actor/Comic/Producer/Director/CEO (gfntv.com/legacy-of-a-people/) – MUSIC: My son is one of the highest-ranking executives in the music business at BMG, so I stay connected to all kinds of music.  But recently I heard a song on “Saturday Night Live” that blew me away. l called my son and said you won’t believe this old activist would say this, but my favorite song today is by Justin Bieber! “Holy” is a wonderful way to start the morning. TV: “Queen Sono” I love the writing. They dealt with apartheid in a clear and very interesting way. They exposed the man behind the curtain. She makes James Bond look like a wimp. I love the energy in that show.  DINING: Italian food and fish. Food to me is fuel.  I’m not one of those people who go ‘Oh, God, what a wonderful meal.’ I’m like I was hungry, I ate … and it tastes good occasionally.

DAVID BIANCHI – Actor (Tyler Perry‘s “Ruthless,” “Queen of The South”) – BOOKS: I’m currently reading the “Four Agreements” and prior to that I read “Happy Pocket Full of Money.” I am all about books that empower and uplift. MOVIES: “Children of Men” by Alfonso Cuaron. In this pandemic, I’m able to revert back to epic films that will always stand tall. “The Prestige” by Christopher Nolan. As far as new films this year, not really any that are standouts. TV: Best show of 2020 hands down is “ZeroZeroZero” on Amazon Prime. It makes “Narcos” look like child’s play. DINING: You can never go wrong with Republique even if you have to do it in a parking lot. Another big winner is Manuela in downtown L.A.’s arts district. Epic dining for the foodie at heart. If I can’t taste the love in it, I don’t want it. I am a solid home chef myself, so I take this very seriously.

OMAR BENSON MILLER – Actor/Producer (“The Unicorn” “The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special”) DINING: I started to cook. And you know what?  My brother-in-law and I bought a cow!  Had it butchered and bought a hog.  He started smoking meats. Smoking bacon. I started making all kinds of beef dishes. It wasn’t good for my waistline, but it’s been great for the taste buds. LIBATION: World traveled sommelier Rajat Parr in Monterey Valley makes a wonderful Pinot Noir called Chloe. It’s worth your time. MUSIC: I’ve been wearing Bob Marley and Rick James out. “Phantom City” by Rozet, featuring Black + Crème. I like that jam.  TV: “The Last Narc” on Amazon Prime should be required viewing.  I really enjoyed “The Last Dance.” BOOKS: “Deacon King Kong,” a James McBride novel and Jody Armour’s “N*gga Theory.” This has been a year of consumption but also creation.

CLIPPETTES: A sensational 2015 New Year’s performance by Maceo Parker, the saxophone legend who bridged the gap between James Brown, George Clinton and Prince, will be presented Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. His super-charged band for the show includes funk and jazz drumming icon Dennis Chambers and P-Funk bass master Rodney “Skeet” Curtis. Get details and tickets at www.sfjazz.org/fridaysatfive

At the same time, Canadian indie soul singer/songwriter Daniel Caesar is in concert with info at www.sessionslive.com/DanielCaesar.

TC ON TV: Jan. 1 – “Cobra Kai” (Netflix): “The Karate Kid” spinoff series produced by Will Smith gets an early unveiling. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (CW/POP/MTV/MTV2/LOGO/VH1): Thirteen new drag queens enter the competition for a chance to win $100,000. “The Wrong Real Estate Agent” (Lifetime): Vivica A. Fox’s “Wrong Franchise” has her portraying a mother who, with her teenage daughter, rents a home where trouble ensues.

Jan. 2 – “CBS This Morning: Saturday” (CBS): Black Pumas

Jan. 3 – “Congressional Black Caucus Ceremonial Swearing-In” (TV1): With President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and performances by John Legend, Kenny Lattimore and Kierra Sheard-Kelly.  “Worst Cooks In America” (Food): Chef Carla Hall joins the show this season as a mentor. “The Watch” (BBCA): Wendell Pierce (“The Wire”) is featured as Death in this comedic, yet thrilling, modern fantasy series. “Story of The Songs” (Reelz): Sting & The Police; Eric Clapton

Jan. 5 – “History of Swear Words” (Netflix): Nicolas Cage hosts this proudly profane series with DeRay Davis, Nikki Glaser, Sarah Silverman and more.  “Finding Your Roots” (PBS): Gayle King, Jordan Peele and Issa Rae.

Jan. 6 – “Tony Parker: The Final Shot” (Netflix): This retrospective of arguably the greatest French basketball player’s career features interviews with Kobe Bryant, David Robinson and many more.

Jan. 7 – “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” (ABC): Contestants include Leslie Jones (playing for Feeding America) and Chandra Wilson (playing for the L.A. Regional Food Bank). “Hell’s Kitchen” (Fox): For the first time in its 19 seasons, the show moves to Las Vegas, home to Gordon Ramsay’s Caesars Palace restaurant. “Go-Big Show” (TBS): Snoop Dogg and Rosario Dawson are among the judges of this large-scale talent competition.

As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached at tastyclips@yahoo.com, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.