Teyana Taylor (left) stars as Inez de la Paz and Aaron Kingsley Adetola stars as six-year-old Terry in A.V. Rockwell’s feature directorial debut, “A Thousand and One” (Photo courtesy of Focus Features).

(“A Thousand and One” trailer courtesy of Focus Features)


Hollywood seems to have taken heed to many criticisms that moviegoers and film critics have had for years.

With “A Thousand and One,” moviegoers get to experience something emotional, dramatic and extremely unpredictable, with an emphasis placed on the unpredictability part because many filmmakers have obviously forgotten the definition of the word.

In “A Thousand and One,” Inez (Teyana Taylor, “Coming 2 America”) is determined to get her life back on track after spending over a year in prison for stealing.

In the process of her incarceration at Rikers Island, the system or life in general has stolen her livelihood as a hair stylist and her six-year-old son Terry (Aaron Kingsley Adetola), who the city has placed in the foster care system.

However, as soon as Inez touches back down on the New York City streets in “A Thousand and One,” she vows to Terry that she is getting her life back together so that they can be a family once again.

Unfortunately, Terry is initially standoffish with his mother after not seeing her for one and a half years.

Who could blame him?

In “A Thousand and One,” Terry has gotten comfortable with his situation.

Terry has a foster family.

He also has friends in his circle.

So, why would he want anyone coming in to break up his routine?

Furthermore, Terry has gotten old enough to understand his plight.

He has heard the rumors about his mother abandoning him on a street corner.

Therefore, when Inez goes to prison for over a year, it feels like another abandonment.

And although Terry is not living with a silver spoon in his mouth at his foster parents’ home, he is stable and comfortable.

With Inez’ predicament, it will take her some time before she is able to provide those bare necessities to her son.

Plus, Inez seems to not have the temperament to handle raising a son as a single parent.

When people refuse to allow her to crash at their place, she becomes irritable.

And when people question her parenting skills, she even might get violent.

In one instance, Terry tells his own mother that she keeps F-ing up.

Nothing probably hurts an adult more than a child possessing more maturity than them.

But in “A Thousand and One,” Terry is a special child.

His parents came up rough, made bad choices and both spent time in the prison system.

But like many parents, they want more for Terry and believe wholeheartedly than he can go as far in life as his dreams allow.

In “A Thousand and One,” Terry is extremely gifted in the classroom.

He is extremely articulate.

And although he hangs out with some riff raff, it is clear that he is unique.

At 13 years old, Terry’s (Aven Courtney) teachers even believe that he can attend a school for gifted children and then pursue higher education at a prestigious university.

Although his life started off rough, he now has even more stability than ever thanks to Inez and his father Lucky (William Catlett) coming back home.

In “A Thousand and One,” Lucky has obvious love for Terry.

But because of his lock up, he never truly connects with Terry like a father is supposed to be.

And because his relationship with Inez is like a roller coaster, he constantly is missing from Terry’s life when he needs a male role model the most.

In “A Thousand and One,” Terry (Josiah Cross) even admits to Inez that the only thing he ever wanted more in life than a mother is a father.

Through the ups and downs, stability and instability, Terry always seems to keep it pushing.

But when something so dramatic happens that it might ruin his aspirations, it will take all of Terry’s maturity and strength to keep going despite all the turmoil he has already endured in his 17 years on Earth.

Unfortunately, “A Thousand and One” had to live up to one of the best trailers in recent memory.

The preview of “A Thousand and One” contained so much drama that movie fans and fans of Taylor salivated waiting for its release.

While “A Thousand and One” is still a dope project, much of the drama has already been seen thanks to the film’s wonderful trailer.

But filmmaker A.V. Rockwell does such a great job presenting “A Thousand and One” that the visuals and acting performances make up for moments when the film drags.

“A Thousand and One” looks like 1994 New York with the fashion, hair styles, compact discs from artists like Mobb Deep and technology like pagers.

In “A Thousand and One,” Inez even promotes herself as a hair stylist via paper flyers.

This generation probably does not know how fun passing out flyers could be because they often promote themselves strictly via social media.

“A Thousand and One” even has a grainy, standard definition look that it gives it a nostalgic feel.

But it is the characters that will draw in moviegoers because they are likable and relatable despite their many faults.

More importantly, “A Thousand and One” shows that even though people might make mistakes and pay the ultimate price, no one is unredeemable.

The film shows that although people might be from the wrong side of the track, many people want the same thing and that is love, family and seeing their dreams come true.

Furthermore, the film shows that while no one is the perfect parent, the desire to be in someone’s life is all that truly matters.

And many moviegoers’ desires for Hollywood to cool it with the predictability will be fulfilled, even if “A Thousand and One” is not a completely perfect film.







Todd A. Smith
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