Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

Spike Responds To Eastwood!

Incase you haven't been following the war of words between Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood (if you've been reading this blog in recent days, you should be aware), here's a quick recap:

First, about 2 weeks ago during an interview at the Cannes Film Festival, Spike said, in reference to Eastwood, "He did two films about Iwo Jima back to back and there was not one black soldier in both of those films... Many veterans, African-Americans, who survived that war are upset at Clint Eastwood. In his vision of Iwo Jima, Negro soldiers did not exist."

Then yesterday, Friday, during an interview with the UK Guardian, Eastwood responded to Spike's comments with something Dirty Harry would probably say, stating quite simply, "
A guy like him should shut his face," while claiming that Spike's lament would call for "historical revisionism," amongst other things, which is nonsense!

Now, today, MTV Movies got an exclusive with Spike Lee, specifically asking him to respond to Eastwood's suggestion that he "shut his face," and here's what he said,
I'm going to take the Obama high road... It’s not a feud... I’ve said my statement. I have no ill will towards Mr. Eastwood. What I said to him was not a personal attack, it was an observation... So that’s really the end of it.

Good call Spike! I'm with you all the way. Now just don't screw up the "St Anna" movie!

Friday Funnies - Attack of the social networking sites!

Finally, we learn the true reasons why Tom and company created MySpace - to promote skanky pictures of skanky people doing skanky things! :-o

Let the social networking wars begin!

And happy weekend to all, whether spent in the real world or the digital escape!

A Story Of Love Coffee And The American Dream

A new addition to my site which just landed on my virtual desk this morning.

The film is called
13 Months of Sunshine and tells the story of an Ethiopian man (already a U.S. citizen) who marries an Ethiopian woman so she can get a green card and become a legal resident of the United States. In exchange, her family pays him $20,000, enough to open up his own dream business - an authentic Ethiopian coffee house.
During the year-long naturalization process, the new couple must learn to live with each other, finding that the marriage of convenience becomes complicated through love, jealousy, and the clash of cultural values each must face in following their dreams.

The filmmaker's name is Yehdego Abeselom who was born and raised in Ethiopia. From the film's website: he arrived in the United States at the age of 18... moved to California to attend Chapman University, where he directed and produced several short films...

For screening info and more interesting specifics about the film go here:

Here's the trailer:

Clint Eastwood Tells Spike Lee To Shut His Face!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an entry regarding Spike Lee's criticism of Clint Eastwood's lack of African American representation in his two World War II movies, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima (You can read that post HERE). Not one to back down from a fight, the 78-year old Eastwood was quoted in an interview with the UK Guardian, stating, in response to Spike Lee, "A guy like him should shut his face!"

Well then... Dirty Harry has spoken!

He says a lot more than that, and you can read the entire article below. Now, let's see what Spike says in response, since we all know that he isn't exactly one to back down easily either!

Spike Lee gets in Clint Eastwood's line of fire
Friday June 6, 2008

Clint Eastwood has advised rival film director Spike Lee to "shut his face" after the African-American complained about the racial make-up of Eastwood's films.

In an interview with the Guardian published today, Eastwood rejected Lee's complaint that he had failed to include a single African-American soldier in his films Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, both about the 1945 battle for the Japanese island.

In typically outspoken language, Eastwood justified his choice of actors, saying that those black troops who did take part in the battle as part of a munitions company didn't raise the flag. The battle is known by the image of US marines raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi.

"The story is Flags of Our Fathers, the famous flag-raising picture, and they didn't do that. If I go ahead and put an African-American actor in there, people'd go: 'This guy's lost his mind.' I mean, it's not accurate." Referring to Lee, he added: "A guy like him should shut his face."

Read the rest HERE.

Living The Dream - What's It All About?

I met the Duplass brothers when they lived in Williamsburg (Brooklyn), NY, in October 2003, my first year in the city, while in pre-production for my first feature, Beautiful Things. I placed an ad on requesting cheap or free production equipment for my then upcoming film shoot. I got several responses to my ad, including one from Jay Duplass, informing that they had equipment I could use, specifically a complete set of lights, gels, filters, a boom pole, microphone with acccesories, and a tripod.

Some days and a few email exchanges later, I made the trip to their apartment in Williamsburg, met them both, and picked up the tools. I learned that they were also struggling filmmakers, having made just 2 short films at the time, with both playing at the Sundance film festival in back-to-back years, 2003 and 2004. They gave me DVDs of both shorts (This is John and Scrapple), which I would later watch and enjoy. I appreciated the simplicity of their production style which very much mimicked mine.

I was surprised at how willing they were to hand over their equipment to me, given that they didn't know me at all, other than the little they gathered from the few emails we exchanged. And, even more refreshing was that they weren't renting the equipment to me, but rather were lending it all to me, thus no money changed hands. The only request I remember Jay making was that I use the equipment with care, and of course, return everything when I was done! No problemo!

I left their apartment with a friend who came to help me carry the tools, which we would hold onto for more than 4 weeks (the length of my shoot), and we both were astonished that the brothers were so generous and so trusting, and agreed that we didn't know if we would be as generous and trusting if we were in their position. But I suppose their actions speak to the kind of people they were/are, and why it's wonderful to read about their recent successes, like this article I found below.

I remember Jay saying that they were working on their first feature at that time, but I don't remember really taking notice (every filmmaker I met was working on a feature) until about a year later, in late 2004, when I was reading a press release announcing the films that were invited to the 2005 Sundance film festival, and saw their last name (which of course I remembered) attached to one of the films mentioned! Then I recalled meeting them a year prior, and Jay telling me that they were working on a feature at the time, just like I was, and me not really taking notice :o) Well, apparently, they finished it, and it just so happened to have landed one of very few coveted slots at the most highly regarded film festival in this country!

I remember feeling a combination of envy and appreciation - envious that they made it in (I didn't. Yes, I submitted my film to Sundance as well that year); but genuinely glad that it happened to a couple of cool cats, who, by the way, were instrumental in helping to keep my production budget low, by not charging me to use their equipment, items I would have had to rent otherwise.

Since that revelation, I've been passively following their progress, although it's been difficult to avoid seeing their names pop up in articles, or as panelists at festivals and such, since I make it my business to stay abreast of industry happenings.

That first feature film of theirs, a $15,000 production titled, The Puffy Chair, was picked up for distribution at the Sundance film festival that year, 2005, and enjoyed a brief theatrical release, and would eventually make its way to DVD.

3 years later, their second feature, also a no-budget production, titled Baghead, was a Sundance darling this year, and also got picked for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics, and will be released in theatres later this year.

The brothers certainly didn't waste any time after Baghead, because they just wrapped up production on their 3rd feature, another low-budget project, titled The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, which is said to be in post-production, likely aiming for a Sundance 2009 debut!

Apparently, according to the article below, they've been offered multi-million dollar projects with Hollywood studios since their debut, and have turned them all down, with no regrets, instead choosing to continue on the path they've blazed for themselves, maintaining creative control over their work, which I've always felt is vital!

I smiled after reading the article because I share many of their sensibilities and perspectives on the film industry! Anyone who knows me well enough can attest to my unwavering quest for artistic independence, even at the loss of material wealth and overall comfort. The Duplass brothers are living the kind of life I'm hoping to lead in coming years. Their options have multiplied exponentially, giving them a rare kind of confidence not common in indie filmmakers. The fact that we were all in the same lane not so long ago, chasing similar dreams, is encouraging to me, because it gives me hope that I too can create work that's personal and uncompromising - work that will find an audience - without having to live on bread and water alone!

Here's the article:

Building Buzz, One 'Bag' at a Time

Forget New York and L.A.: The Duplass Brothers are rolling out the red carpet in the River City
By Josh Rosenblatt

Let's start at the beginning.

It's 2002. Brothers and aspiring filmmakers Jay and Mark Duplass are sitting in Jay's small apartment on West Mary Street in South Austin doing nothing. They feel despondent, mopey, self-pitying, nowheresville – as men of a certain disposition in their 20s are inclined to do from time to time. Finally Mark (the younger of the two by three years) decides he's had enough and tells his brother that they're going to make a movie. Right then and right there.

So they come up with an idea about a man, played by Mark, whose fateful decision to re-record the outgoing message on his answering machine results in a seven-minute spiraling soliloquy of self-loathing and desperation. The movie is shot on digital video by Jay in a single 20-minute take, all in that apartment. Amazingly, the exceedingly modest "This Is John" (which Jay calls their "$3 film") goes on to screen at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and – more amazing still – earns the Duplass Brothers representation by the William Morris Agency, home to Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and dozens of other stars who have probably never worked opposite an answering machine.

Over the next two years, the brothers release two more critically acclaimed shorts and one feature film (2005's The Puffy Chair, which is nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards), each building on their first short's shambolic aesthetic and sense of quiet awkwardness and emotional honesty. They move to New York and then to Los Angeles. Netflix signs on to distribute The Puffy Chair. The brothers make a deal with Universal Studios for a feature script. They start selling pitches to Fox Searchlight Pictures with an eye toward writing scripts for major studios and using the money to fund their own modest little movies.

The press begins taking note, proclaiming the Duplass Brothers shining lights of the new "mumblecore" movement, a style of independent filmmaking characterized by low budgets, nonprofessional actors, improvised dialogue, small crews, handheld cameras, semiautobiographical stories of relational dysfunction, and subtle humor. The Puffy Chair, with its story about the slow and awkward disintegration of a romantic relationship during a road trip from New York to Atlanta, joins Andrew Bujalski's Funny Ha Ha (and later Joe Swanberg's Hannah Takes the Stairs) as one of the bellwethers of this new movement.


Thursday Links - Hughes Brothers Emerge, TWC Flips Net Neutrality, More Brit Laments, Plus...

I've got you baby... I've got you... all the way...

Cassavetes sisters join the Hughes brothers on Four Sketch project - I almost forgot all about the Hughes Brothers. They've been virtually invisible since 2001's From Hell.

- The plan, which Time Warner Cable will start testing Thursday in Beaumont, Texas, is aimed at charging users more for heavier volumes and faster service. Given the reigning orthodoxy that the Internet should be free, it's little surprise the digital crowd objects - No Mr. Gordon Gekko... you were very wrong. Greed is NOT good! And this is one reason why.

"The Americans get a warm, fuzzy feeling here," says Colin Brown of what Britain can offer to Hollywood. "There is something about the way that we tell stories and look at life and, believe it or not, even the sense of humour – whether you like it or not, the Americans admire the UK. A lot of the talent loves to work here. This is a great place to make a movie." The big exodus: Is the British film industry in crisis? I've read quite a few articles recently from different publications on this supposed crisis. Maybe they should consider Bollywood's recent Hollywood campaign.

Check out's 100 Greatest Movie Posters, ranked in order from 1 to 100! Some are questionable... but it is after all just one person's thoughts. I don't have to agree or disagree with any of the choices made!

- Lastly, courtesy of the comedy geniuses at the Onion News Network (ONN)... some humorous commentary on America's favorite pastime: overindulgence! Here's to addictive consumption:
New Wearable Feedbags Let Americans Eat More, Move Less

Dub-Ya - The Improbable President

Courtersy of the good folks at Ion Cinema, what you see above is a teaser poster for Oliver Stone's upcoming Bush pic, simply titled, W, a film I've talked about a couple of times on this blog, and I'm highly anticipating, due in large part to the talent involved both in front and behind the camera - from Stone directing to Thandie Newton as Condoleezza, Jeffrey Wright as Collin Powell, Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush, and of course, Josh Brolin as George W himself, amongst other cast members. You can read my previous posts on the film HERE, HERE and HERE. The teaser poster above apparently was first spotted at the Cannes Film Festival which closed recently, and has several "Bush-isms" printed all over its face - a list of actual and rather pathetic, yet funny Bush quotes. Click on the image for a larger version of it, so you can read them all. Stone is shooting for an October release of the film, before November election events. You know I'll be there with my $12!

By the way, check out this website,, the self-described
"grand repository for the gravy train of strained English that defines America's Mangler-in-Chief." Good stuff!

You'll Never Work In This Town Again? - PART 1

Most filmmakers will agree that seeing a film through the entire production and distribution process can deter one from ever wanting to live the experience again. It's draining - physically and mentally. And without the right amounts of strength and courage (or deep pockets), living through the experience will cause long term psychological damage! Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get my point! And I'll venture out on a limb here and say that the experience and post-strain can be much more intense for "minority" filmmakers, compared to their Caucasian counterparts for several reasons, many of which I'm sure you can figure out on your own.

So, it should be no surprise that there've been a cadre of black filmmakers who enjoyed success (whether critically, commercially, or both) with their first feature films, and haven't been heard from since... or have been playing in the shadows post their debuts.

I sometimes wonder what some of these filmmakers are doing today - whether they lost interest in filmmaking altogether, due to their challenging first experiences; whether they are indeed still productive, but are maybe creating work that I simply just don't know about; or whether they are putting their talents to work in other areas of the business, as producers or editors, for example.

It's not as if they lack talent (which is subjective anyway). A few of them are responsible for some of the more worthy films in black cinema history; and some even started trends. But yet, they seem to have simply left the stage, or are hiding behind the curtain.

I thought about some of those filmmakers (those I remembered) whose first features I liked and appreciated, and looked them all up, hoping to find some answers, and in most cases, learned very little. Granted my research wasn't extensive...

Regardless, starting today, I'll feature those names I've wondered about in recent times. If anything, you can consider this an homage of sorts to these men and women, as well as the work they created.

First up:
Christopher Scott Cherot
- Hav Plenty, his 1997 debut, was picked up by Miramax (when it was still run by the Weinsteins), with the help of Baby Face and Traci Edmonds, who saw the film at the then Acapulco Black Film Festival and loved it, carrying it on to the Toronto Film Festival when Miramax signed on as its distributor, providing some completion funds before taking it to the 1998 Sundance film festival. I loved the movie when I saw it and still do, despite its obvious non-existent budget look, questionable acting, and shitty soundtrack - although the music score wasn't his doing... Babyface and Traci fucked it up as far as I'm concerned, which is my one major complaint about the movie. They apparently thought that cheesy R&B tracks were best suited for the content. I disagreed then and still do now! The film had a wonderful charm and wry humor about it that won me over, despite its flaws, and it sits comfortably in my DVD collection. The last film Cherot directed was a silly soap opera called G, released in 2005, which I did see and didn't like at all. It was a retelling of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, hence the title G., starring Richard T Jones, Blair Underwood, amongst others, and was described as a "Gatsbyesque love story set against Hip-Hop's invasion of the Hamptons." It was simply NOT a good movie, and I was disappointed in the effort by Mr Cherot, who co-wrote the screenplay based on a story by, of all people, Andrew Lauren (fashion Icon Ralph Lauren's son), who also produced the film. According to IMDB, Cherot has worked on some short films since G., although not his short films, but rather acting as either an actor, editor, or producer. He also directed one episode of BET's reality TV series, College Hill, in 2004.

I couldn't find trailers for either Hav Plenty or G. anywhere online, but you can check each film out HEREand HERE.

I couldn't find very much on Christopher Cherot actually. Not even a decent picture! Just a few mentions here and there, mostly in articles about Black cinema. Here's a poignant snippet of an interview he did in 1998 with IndieWire Magazine, just after the theatrical release of Hav Plenty:

IndieWire: How do you think this film is going to help your career?
Cherot: I think that Hav Plenty has done what it can do for my career, which is open the door. Whether people like it or don't like it, it's established me as a filmmaker. And will afford me an opportunity to continue to function as filmmaker and make more films. I don't really see it as a career-maker, but I definitely don't see it as a career-breaker either. I think it's a stepping stone towards higher and better things. Given the resources that I had, I think I did the best job I could do with "Hav Plenty." However, I do not think it is the best thing that I have inside of me.

If anyone knows the whereabouts of this now 40-year old filmmaker, please do share! It's been 10 years since Hav Plenty, a romantic comedy in a similar vein, and that preceded the slew of so-called "buppie" romantic comedies that would follow over the next 5 to 6 years after it.

Another one tomorrow...

Blair Underwood's Dream Job

Former L.A. Law hunk Blair Underwood, also of HBO's In Treatment and ABC's Dirty, Sexy Money reveals to the role he'd most like to play and why. I forgot he was even still around and working...

The Women - Trailer

On the heels of Sex and the City... :o) The main reason why I'm posting this is because Jada Pinkett Smith and Lynn Whitfield are in it! I guess Jada found time to star in this film while assuming writing and directing duties for her auteur debut, The Human Contract.

The film is called The Women and stars lots of women including: Annette Bening, Bette Midler, Debra Messing, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, and the aforementioned Jada Pinkett Smith. Lynn Whitfield has a smaller role in it.

The story centers on a group of gossipy, high-society women who spend their days at the beauty salon and haunting fashion shows. The sweet, happily-wedded Mary Haines (Meg Ryan) finds her marriage in trouble when shop girl Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes) gets her hooks into Mary's man. Naturally, this situation becomes the hot talk amongst Mary's catty friends, especially the scandalmonger Sylvia Fowler (Annette Bening), who has little room to talk - she finds herself on a train to Reno and headed for divorce right after Mary.

It's scheduled for a September 2008 release.

Here's the trailer:

Why Do Political Lies Work?

Found this little bit of wisdom on Deepak Chopra's blog today and thought it worthy of sharing. I'm sure people like Reverend Wright will greatly appreciate the sentiments expressed in it. I couldn't have said it all any better myself...

Why Do Political Lies Work?

Anyone who wants to reform American politics has to seriously consider the pros and cons of lying. Telling people what they want to hear has rarely lost an election. Yet nobody wants to be on the Titanic, reassured that what they felt was just a tiny bump. To begin with, there's an assumption that no candidate can win by telling the whole truth . The Dennis Kucinich school of bald-faced candor is usually fatal. The phrase "lying politician" rolls easily off the tongue, and yet a balancing act is required. We expect politicians to lie in some areas but not others. Pollsters have not found a simple formula for success, although being positive comes as close as any. Voters don't elect whistle-blowers and Cassandras. In the present climate there are certain painful truths that cannot be safely uttered in public.


--America's going to lose this war in the end. Iraq and Iran will form a Shiite coalition controlling almost as much oil as Saudi Arabia.
--The Army contains a lot of disadvantaged kids who enlisted because it was an easy option that paid well.
--The death penalty is barbaric and doesn't work.
--Millions of prison inmates don't deserve to be there, the victims of draconian drug laws.
--Drugs aren't going away, no matter how many crusades are mounted against them.
-- American democracy panders to the masses once every few years but is run on a day-to-day basis by privileged elites.
-- If you're poor or ethnic, your interests take a back seat in Washington.
--The military-industrial complex fuels American exports, so while preaching peace, our pocketbooks depend on selling war.
--The Christian right would be totally ignored if they hadn't found a way to vote en bloc and employ character assassination against anyone who opposes them.
-- It's immoral to force a politician to prove he loves God in public.
-- The deterioration of public discourse since Watergate has driven the best and the brightest out of politics.
-- No problem is so big that Washington can't find a way to postpone facing it.

This is a discouraging list, but I'm sure any thoughtful person who keeps up with politics could add to it with many more examples. Succeeding in political office means either avoiding the truth, masking it over, replacing it with distractions that have little or nothing to do with everyday life (e.g., school prayer, abortion, and the flag), or if need be, creating straw men to knock down. It's no secret that the right-wing revolution begun by Nixon and spectacularly advanced by Reagan was fueled by social resentment. Why else did the entire South go Republican after the civil rights era? Why else did 'liberal' become a dirty word and war protestors were blamed for losing in Vietnam? Finding a group to hate and vent resentment toward is far easier than telling hard truths to your supporters.

Will this time-honored avoidance of truth-telling, which breaks down only in dire crisis, ever change? The Democrats are running on the hope that it will. But a double bind seems to be tightening on them, especially on Sen. Obama. When he tells the truth too plainly, he is accused of being unrealistic, naive, too idealistic for his own good. When he resorts to placating gun owners, church goers, and the working class after offending them, he is accused of returning to politics as usual. This double bind has always existed. Pres. Kennedy, for fear of looking soft on Communism, ran on a fictional missile gap with the Soviet Union, a naked appeal to voter fear and hatred of the enemy. The trick is to infuse false rhetoric and sham promises with enough integrity that voters can read between the lines. In America you must convince people that you grasp reality without giving them too big a dose of it.

New Hancock Footage!

Found this over at - a never-before-seen clip from the upcoming Will Smith summer bash, Hancock, which I'm sure everyone has heard about by now, and seen one of the many trailers in circulation.

If you hate spoilers, and are planning on seeing Hancock, don't bother looking at the clip, or reading the introductory text below. I don't think it's that big of a deal, and frankly don't give a damn, but I'm aware that there are some rabid fanboys and fangirls out there who would mind - hence my warning!

Hancock opens over the July 4th weekend, less than a month from now.

Here's the clip:

Film Review - The Slender Thread (Poitier, Bancroft, Pollack)

At exactly 8PM last night, as I was about to turn off my TV and turn on some ambient sounds, ready to shift focus onto my screenplay, I thought I'd run through my favorite channels one last time, just to make sure there wasn't anything of interest (I'm quite the procrastinator when it comes to writing, a process I actually don't like very much, so I'm always looking for an excuse not to do it).

It didn't take long for me to find something on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) - a black and white montage of moving images of a metropolitan skyline with the name "Sidney Poitier" overlaying. Of course I had to pause to see what this movie was. I've seen my share of Poitier films, and this didn't look like anything I'd seen before.

Right next to Poitier's name was "Anne Bancroft," which was soon followed by the film's title, "
The Slender Thread."

I was right, I hadn't seen it.

As the intro credits kept rolling, I was treated to a cool, sometimes ominous jazz score that accompanied the crisp, glorious black and white images of a metropolitan city, which I soon learned was Seattle, once an aerial shot of the Space Needle landmark showed up on screen. Included in the series of images were shots of Sidney's character, in a convertible automobile, driving through the city with a tempered glee. I remember nodding my head in unison with the music, as I took in the sumptuous monochromatic cinematography. It just worked for me - the dance between the images on screen and the music coming from my TV speakers. It all felt strangely modern, even though I knew it was a 1965 production.

Regardless, I was hooked instantly.

Moments later, as the credits wound down, I learned 2 things that would cement my decision to watch the film instead of working on my screenplay:

1. The film score was composed by none other than Quincy Jones, who was 31 at the time - the 3rd film that he'd been given the opportunity to act as composer on, and a fine job he did with it..

2. As is standard industry practice, the very last opening credit often belongs to the film's director whom I discovered was none other than the late Sydney Pollack, who just passed away a week ago. As I mentioned in my brief remembrance of him on the day he died, I'm a fan of his work, both in front of and behind the camera. This was Pollack's feature-film debut! He was 30 at the time.

So, imagine my growing excitement when it all settled within me that I was about to watch a Sidney Poitier film I hadn't seen before, co-starring Anne Bancroft (AKA Mrs Robinson from The Graduate), directed by first-time feature director, Sydney Pollack, and scored by Quincy Jones, his third composer credit. Interestingly, all 4 of them were in their 30s when they made the film. Something about that tickled me.

More interesting connecting facts: both Anne Bancroft and Sidney Poitier had already won Oscars prior to making this film - Bancroft, best actress in 1963; Poitier, best actor in 1964. And guess who presented Poitier with the award during the ceremony that night at the Oscars? Anne Bancroft of course!

In The Slender Thread, a lone student volunteer at a suicide clinic (Poitier) must keep a desperate woman (Bancroft) on the phone long enough, as the police try to trace her location in order to save her from taking her own life.

It plays out like a thriller in the "Hitchockian" mold, although not quite Hitchcock (there is only one). However, as I watched it, I remember being reminded of Hitchock's Rope, a film notable for its single location (much of Slender takes place at the suicide clinic with Poitier on the phone), taking place in real time (Slender mimics this as well).

Time is of the essence in Slender Thread. Will this untrained volunteer be able to keep the woman on the phone long enough? Will the police be able to track her down before she dies? You can probably guess how it ends, after all it's a studio picture, but the journey is worthwhile.

It's not Poitier's best performance, but we are treated to his trademark business-like intensity that doesn't always work well in this particular film. Luckily it's not too distracting. I was still able to enjoy it for 98-minutes. It's not necessarily a "Poitier film," since he shares screen time with Bancroft and a peripheral cast of recognizable names and faces (although at the time they were mostly unknowns), but he commands your attention when he is on screen. His earnestness draws you in, as it seems like he took much pleasure from portraying his character.

Bancroft is believable as an ailing 30-something year old suicidal woman, although, Pollack chose to keep her character invisible during most of the phone call with Poitier. We hear her voice, but we don't see her. Instead, Pollack incorporates several flashbacks during which Bancroft's character retells her story to Poitier's volunteer over the phone - essentially, recapping the events that led up to her current suicidal state. I won't go into detail as to what those events were, but suffice it to say that she kept a secret from her husband - a secret he soon discovers, with devastating consequences. It is through these flashbacks that we meet and get to know her fragile character.

Race isn't at all an issue in the film, and really didn't need to be. Poitier's role could have been played by anyone, as could have Bancroft's. I think those 2 facts added to the air of modernity I felt from the film. I would expect that it was probably quite progressive for its time (1965). I can also imagine how exciting this must have been for audiences at the time to have 2 stars, both whom had just won the industry's highest honor, (Bancroft 2 years prior, and Poitier the previous year), together in a film, even though they never appear on screen together, given the film's plot, which could have been disappointing to that same audience, in the end.

The story (which was based on real life events) obviously didn't lend itself to a romance of any sort between the two leads, so there weren't any opportunities to exploit the sexuality of the characters, or any attraction they might have felt to each other otherwise. Given that their entire relationship exists solely from one end of the slender thread to the other, connecting them, both characters never meet each other in person. Although as the clock ticks towards her potential end, Poitier's character learns much more about her than she does about him, since he has the police on his side, as they work together trying to trace her whereabouts, giving him a slight upper hand in what feels like a tennis match between the two, as he uses his limited psychiatric knowledge of suicidal patients (after all he's just a student volunteer) to engage her as long as he can, and she does her best to maintain some secrecy, keeping him in the dark, even though she clearly needs him to save her.

If you've seen a Pollack film, one thing I think you'd remember most is just how polished his films usually are. There's a tidiness to them that never escapes me, more so than a lot of other filmmakers, even in those films of his that don't register highly on my critical scale. This film is no different, even though it was his first. It's just really "clean," for lack of a better phrase - very well shot (he's not one to experiment with the camera or atmospheric lighting, but the work is solid); it's fairly-well paced and edited, although I think it could lose about 10 minutes of its running time, but a minor quibble. And, aside from Poitier's infrequent over-acting, it's mostly well acted, both the starring and supporting cast, which included Telly Savalas (pre-Kojak), Ed Asner, and Steven Hill (former Law & Order star) - all 3 looking very young and virile! Pollack, an actor himself, has always been known as an actor's director, and even though this was his first feature film, and he was working with 2 Oscar winners, I can tell that he was in command of his cast and crew, and the entire production.

Overall, it's standard studio fare. I was mostly entertained, and can't say that I learned much from the experience. No poignant message to be delivered, no subversions, no calls to action... rather just a mostly taut drama/thriller from a first-time feature-film director who would go on to direct many more. Of course, watching Sidney Poitier was a bonus. This is the first and only time that he and Pollack worked together - at least in a director/actor relationship. Actually, if I didn't see Poitier's name on the marquee, I probably wouldn't have stuck around to watch the entire film, and instead would have turned off the television and worked on my screenplay! No regrets though :o)

I'd give it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. It's available on DVD for those interested.

Here's the trailer for The Slender Thread:

Monday Links - SATC Venom, Girlfriends, Burn Hollywood Burn, Danny Glover For Prez, Sequels Galore, More...

(1966) Catherine Deneuve and Yves Saint-Laurent (who died last night)

A slow Monday morning for news bits... but I'm happy to be awake and alive in New York City... no construction cranes fell on me after all...

- "The single biggest negative for the image of African Americans over the last 15 years was their widely reported elation when O.J. Simpson was found not guilty. People read those stories and saw the video clips and said to themselves, "What...?" The Sex And The City phenomenon, I submit, is on a par with this -- a cultural snapshot showing everyone in the world how utterly shallow and culturally nowhere mainstream American women have become, for the most part. " - How is that for analogous? The Sex And The City phenomenon is to mainstream American women what O.J.'s acquittal was to African Americans? Wow! I feel insulted by this actually. Obviously it's a white man speaking. The arrogance, superior and privileged tone are palpable. Regardless, I'm still amazed at the amount of venom still being fired at the movie! I don't get it. Who would've guessed it would create such a media frenzy! I think I'll have to see it now and judge for myself! But first, I'll need to dig up my sunglasses and hat so I can slip into the theatre incognito ;o) I'm guessing there'll likely be a sequel. Studio execs are probably meeting about that right now. I'm also guessing we'll see a string of similar themed movies over the next 5 years, until the well runs dry. But that could possibly mean big screen adaptations of other TV programs like the once labeled "black SATC" - Girlfriends! You heard it here first folks! Girlfriends, the movie, coming soon!

An early morning fire broke out on the Universal Studios backlot Sunday, destroying important cityscape but no soundstages - When Public Enemy rapped, "Burn Hollywood Burn," is this what they meant? :o) Maybe someone over at Universal was trying to erase all traces of George Clooney's box office dud, Leatherheads!

- Another fictional Black president is on his way to the white house in yet another disaster movie.
Danny Glover is in talks to play the president, with Thandie Newton to play his daughter in a film called 2012 which "centers on a global cataclysm and tells the heroic struggle of the survivors." Roland Emerich, the same cad who brought us other mega-budget disaster films like Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, is writing and directing the film which, by the way, also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor. This is the second disaster movie I can think of in which the president is/was black - the other being Morgan Freeman in 1998's Deep Impact. Might there be a message here that Hollywood is trying to pass onto us? At times of crises in our country, we're best served in the capable hands of a black president :o)

- Inside Man 2? I Am Legend 2? Pink Panther 2?
The folks over at Den of Geek clue us in on "30 Upcoming Movie Sequels That You Didn't Know About."

- Thanks to Sergio Mims for the info, George C. Wolfe, the black Broadway theater director, responsible (wholly or in part) for hits like Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk, Top Dog/Underdog and Angels in America, has a new film on the horizon, his first since directing Lackawanna Blues for HBO, titled Nights In Rodanthe, starring Richard Gere, Diane Lane and one of my favorite actresses, Viola Davis, in what looks like the archetypal BBF role ("black best friend," for those who don't know). In the film, based on a novel, a doctor (Gere) who is traveling to see his estranged son, sparks a romance with an unhappily married woman (Lane) at a North Carolina inn. It's set for an October release. Here's the trailer:

- Finally, I need content for, so please send me a note if you're aware of any screenings in whatever city you're in, and I'll post it up! Thanks!

Box Office May 30 - June 1, 2008

Well... no surprise that Sex and the City was numero uno for the weekend, although I actually expected it to make more money than it did. Given that its budget is listed at $65 million (not including marketing costs), it's made most of it back, and surely will surpass it by next weekend.

Indiana Jones dropped roughly 50% from it's opening weekend gross, and has surpassed the $200 million mark. Keep in mind that it's a $200 million movie, so I don't know if I'd yet say that it's profitable. I saw it last week and was incredibly disappointed! What a tedious experience. Spielberg and Lucas should be ashamed of themselves for producing this miserable excuse of a movie. I've heard rumors that a 5th installment of the series is possible... I certainly hope not, and wouldn't bother seeing it, if it did come to fruition!

Iron Man is still showing iron strength, raking in an additional $14 million, bringing it's cumulative total to $276 million. It's made $500 million worldwide already, making it the highest grossing film of 2008, so far anyway.

Lastly, stick a fork in Speed Racer because it's just about d-o-n-e! This was one gamble that hasn't paid off for Warner Bros, unless it becomes one of those DVD cult hits... but I doubt it. I haven't seen it, and don't plan on it. When it's on cable TV this time next year, maybe I'll make myself sit down and watch it.

Here are the top 10 money-makers for the weekend, with cumulative totals in parentheses:

1 Sex and the City $55,740,000 (NEW)
2 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull $46,000,000 ($216,881,000)
3 The Strangers $20,707,000 (NEW)
4 Iron Man Par. $14,000,000 ($276,625,000)
5 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian $13,016,000 ($115,674,000)
6 What Happens in Vegas $6,850,000 ($66,074,000)
7 Baby Mama $2,221,000 ($56,145,000)
8 Speed Racer $2,140,000 ($40,558,000)
9 Made of Honor $2,000,000 ($42,965,000)
10 Forgetting Sarah Marshall $1,044,000 ($60,471,000)