Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

So, Two Black Men Walk Into A Bar In China...

Business as usual, right?

Ok, this will be THE last post of the day! I was just about to shut my laptop off, when I received an email from frequent contributor to this blog, Sergio, with a link to the below article. And I had to share it. Read on and you'll see why!

And we all thought racial profiling in the USA was extreme... not quite, say the Chinese! The irony in all this is that they're practicing a kind of neo-colonialism in Africa currently (without much resistance from African heads of state, mind you). Then again, maybe it's not really ironic. With both acts used as measures, it's clear how they percieve "us."

Here ya go:

Beijing authorities are secretly planning to ban black people and others it considers social undesirables from entering the city's bars during the Olympic Games, a move that would contradict the official slogan, "One World, One Dream".

Bar owners near the Workers' Stadium in central Beijing say they have been forced by Public Security Bureau officials to sign pledges agreeing not to let black people enter their premises.

"Uniformed Public Security Bureau officers came into the bar recently and told me not to serve black people or Mongolians," said the co-owner of a western-style bar, who asked not to be named.

The local authorities have been cracking down on blacks and Mongolians in an attempt to stamp out drug dealing and prostitution ahead of the Games, the proprietors said.

A few months ago, police launched a violent sting on black men drinking in the Sanlitun bar district, and a notorious nightclub largely populated by Mongolian prostitutes was also shut down...

The pledges that Sanlitun bar owners had been instructed to sign agreed to stop a variety of activities in their establishments, including dancing and serving customers with black skin, they said.

They have been allowed to keep copies of all the pledges except those relating to blacks, implying that the authorities are wary of charges of racism.


Another Sweltering New York Summer Day...

This will likely be my last post of today! Places to go, people to see, movies to watch, books to read, screenplays to write... although I'm not sure how I'm going to get all that in with 12 hours left until it's Sunday!

It's going to be HOT out there today in NYC! I was supposed to hit the beach with a friend earlier in the morning, but that didn't happen. I went to the gym instead to burn off all the calories I consumed last night before and after seeing The Dark Knight :o)

I might return much later tonight for a post or two, if I come across anything worth an entry, but don't hold your breath!

I'm out, and so should you.

Get In My Belly!

Starting today, Saturday, fast food restaurant chains in New York big enough to fall under the rule will face penalties of up to $2,000 per store for not disclosing calorie information in a prominent spot on their menus, preferably next to the price! That includes you McDonalds, Wendy's, Burger King, Arby's, Starbucks, and on and on and on...

McDonald's and Burger King were among the chains that unveiled new menu boards yesterday, Friday, at several locations throughout the city, taking calorie information that had long been available on Web sites and tray liners and putting it front-and-center above the cash register.

The new rules are part of an anti-obesity campaign that has also included a recent citywide ban on artificial trans fats in restaurant food. The calorie posting rule took effect in May, but legal action delayed enforcement until now.

Fast food regulars New York City will finally start facing the hard truths about their meal choices - like 1,130 calories for a Big Mac, medium fries and a medium soda, or a whopping 850 calories for one Cinnabon, or 500 calories for a grande Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino with whipped cream from Starbucks!

Keep in mind that dietary guidelines for adults recommend about 2,000 calories a day!

Will any of this have an effect? Time will tell.

So, I Saw 'The Dark Knight' Last Night...

In short - it's the best studio film I've seen so far this year - emphasis on the words "studio film" - and I plan on seeing it again as it's meant to be seen, on an IMAX screen, since I didn't get that chance the first time.

It's dark, brooding and menacing, just the way Batman movies should be, unlike Tim Burton's comical renditions - although I did appreciate both of them.

Heath Ledger's performance was good, but not as great as most seem to be giving him credit for. I suppose his untimely death likely has something to do with that. The drums have long been beating for a posthumous Best Supporting Actor win for Ledger, but I think it's too early to start singing that song. There are still a lot of films left to be seen with 6 months left in the year, and a fall season that's loaded with the usual Oscar bait.

So, overall, a solid effort - the best Batman movie ever made, in my humble opinion. Despite one or two "ehhh" moments, it didn't piss me off the way other overhyped super hero films I've seen this year did (yes, I'm looking at right you Hancock), and my friends and I walked out of the sold-out theatre energized, looking forward to seeing it on an IMAX screen!

I still would have liked to have seen Darren Aronofsky's version, which was rumored to be in development 4 or 5 years ago, soon after he made Requiem For A Dream. At that time, word on the street was that Aronofsky's Dark Knight was to be considerably grittier, infused with a realism super hero movies often lack, fashioned after 70's cop thrillers like the seminal 1971 film, The French Connection. Upon hearing the rumor, I was immediately intrigued. Will we ever get to see Aronofsky's version? Who knows!

And now the numbers.

As expected... The Dark Knight is setting all kinds of box office records, beating out Spiderman, with a record $66 million opening day, and several estimates have it soaring past Spider-Man 3 for a $157 million opening weekend, which would be the all-time best.

Courtesy of Fantasy Mogul, here is a list of the best all-time opening days:

1. The Dark Knight - $66M (estimate)
2. Spider-Man 3 - $59.84M
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest - $55.83M
4. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith - $50.01M
5. X-Men: The Last Stand - $45.1M
6. Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix - $44.23M
7. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End - $42.9M
8. Spider-Man 2 - $40.44M
9. Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire - $40.11M
10. Spider-Man - $39.4M

From the list above, it's no wonder why super hero movies are all the rage these days! Those suckas are pure money! 5 of the top 10 all-time opening day champs are super hero movies. We could actually even say that 8 of the 10 are defacto super hero movies, because one could make a strong case for Harry Potter being a super hero of sorts, as well as the entire Star Wars gang. But it's clear that fantasy/action movies are certainly universally appealing - well, maybe I should clarify and say instead that fantasy/action movies with white faces are universally appealing :o)

Some industry writers are saying that The Dark Knight will, after all is said and done, be the #1 movie of 2008, passing both Iron Man and Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull (I get annoyed whenever I think about that film) and even possibly getting close to the all-time domestic box office champ, Titanic, which took in over $600 million (I'm still not sure why that film was so popular).

Some are even calling for a Best Picture nomination. Maybe... but, as I said earlier, it's a little too early to start singing that song. Let's see how the rest of the year plays out.

All The Real Americans: The World Of David Gordon Green

Upon initially hearing about it a few weeks ago, I wondered why the heck Gen X filmmaker David Gordon Green was being honored with a week-long retrospective at BAM Rose Cinemas here in Brooklyn, NY.

I enjoyed his break-out film, George Washington (an homage to Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep), but each successive effort simply wasn't as evocative as the first. All The Real Girls had some splashes of genuine emotional truth rarely experienced in contemporary American cinema, but the complete picture just didn't resonate; and Undertow, an attempt at the Southern Gothic sub-genre, felt unfocused and rushed. I didn't see his last film, Snow Angels.

But then I realized that Mr Green is the man behind the upcoming stoner comedy, Pineapple Express, staring everyman, Seth Rogen and the usually dramatic James Franco in a comedic turn. AHA! So that's the reason for this retrospective for a filmmaker barely into his 30s, with only 4 films to his credit! It's essentially a marketing ploy for Pineapple Express - let's shuffle our filmmaker around the country, who certainly has his band of fanboys and girls all over, who'll likely turn out to watch his films and catch a glimpse of their hero, and maybe even hear him speak or touch his hand; and we'll show his previous critically-acclaimed films, let him answer some questions from hosts and audiences, and, by the way, not forget to plug his next film, Pineapple Express, which will be released theatrically next month!

This will certainly do well to raise David Gordon Green's profile as well - a director who has been compared to enshrined filmmakers like Terrence Malick (Badlands, Days of Heaven), although Green is definitely more prolific, and is quickly garnering the respect of new fans, critics and industry personnel as well. His first feature film right out of film school, George Washington, received Criterion Collection treatment for chrissakes! How is that possible, especially when there are so many others from yesteryear, waiting to be granted the honor.

To say that I'm envious would be an OVERstatement :o)

Check out BAM's website for specifics on the D.G.G. retro which kicked off last night with a screening of his last film, Snow Angels. Pineapple Express opens August 8th.

If you haven't seen it, here are the first 6 minutes of his premiere opus, George Washington:

'Obama Is My Slave' - Capitalism At Work

*Shaking my head and sighing*

From Radar:

- So, yesterday's front page of Metro, one of New York City's beloved free subway newspapers, had as their lead story an account of an unnamed 25-year-old woman being shoved and spat on by four black women at the subway. Because she was wearing a T-shirt that said "Obama is my slave."

CHAOS ON THE SUBWAYS! RACE RIOTS! WHITE WOMAN DOWN! And yet ... the "victim" isn't interviewed. There are no cops. No lawyers. No nothing—except the word of a desperately ambitious T-shirt designer, whose
press-seeking ways have been ably documented before. To New York mag, he wrote: "can you or any one else in 'new york magazine' write somthing about me and my art? even somthing [sic] really bad?" Well New York wouldn't, but apparently others would. We don't believe a word of it.

If homeboy suddenly gets shot, I wouldn't shed a tear...



I'm no sartorial maven, but I can recognize style when I see it... and you probably would never guess how old this dude really is!



Practice Random Acts Of Compassionate Capitalism

I'm sure we've all being following the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac financial crises and the proposed government bailout...

One of many op-eds from From
HuffPo's Byron Williams:

- Most Americans believe they possess a natural aversion to socialism. Charges of "socialized medicine" have derailed much-needed health care reforms for years.
After all, we are a capitalist society, we believe in personal responsibility, lifting ourselves by our bootstraps -- at least that is the stereotype we like to promote.

The version closer to reality is America offers capitalism to low-income individuals, but is more than willing to unleash its socialist impulses for the wealthy.

If we were truly a capitalist society Chrysler would not exist today, making cars that don't sell. It would have gone out of business decades ago.

By passing the $1.5 billion "Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1979," Congress allowed Chrysler to avoid bankruptcy, stay in business, and save jobs.
However one feels about the Chrysler bailout, it was not capitalism. But recent Wall Street financial fiascos may cause us to long for the return of the Chrysler K-car.

Congress is now on the verge of bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government created but privately owned, profit-making housing finance companies responsible for nearly half of the U.S. mortgage market. Collectively, they own or guarantee an estimated $5 trillion of debt.

The rest here: Capitalism for the Poor, Socialism for the Wealthy

Friday Funnies - New Rules, New Definitions!

Redenbacher (opposite of Cougar) - an older man, in his 40s, 50s or 60s, who sexually pursues women in their 20s and 30s.

Happy Weekend!

A Silent Eddie Murphy Movie?

Ok, so he's obviously not really retiring as he suggested a couple of weeks ago, so don't get too excited. And he's yapping up a storm whenever he can, talking about his various upcoming projects, from the 4th installment of the Beverly Hills Cop franchise, to something called A Thousand Words, which he describes to MTV as, "like nothing I’ve ever done before. It’s not a kids movie, a family movie. It’s a really, funny smart picture. Different.” We'll see!

In the film, Eddie plays a literary agent who finds out he only has 1000 words left to speak before he dies. Hence, he really has to be careful with his speech! If only this was a true story :o)

MTV describes the film as "another high concept project" from Murphy and his frequent collaborator, director, Brian Robbins, which doesn't inspire much confidence in me, given that the last 2 projects they worked on together (Meet Dave and Norbit) were both piles of cow dung!

Apparently, in A Thousand Words, the entire second half of the movie won’t contain any dialogue - at least none from Eddie's mouth! Classic, right? This means that we'll likely get lots of physical humor, which I'm not so sure is Eddie's forte. He's certainly no Chaplin or Keaton.

Anyway, much like their previous collabs, I don't expect this one to be any different. But, I'm open to being pleasantly surprised! No word on a release date - likely sometime in '09.

Eddie needs a hit BADLY!!!!


Chris Rock Wants To 'Kill The Messenger'

And I was just about to type up a "Dear Chris Rock" letter... He's a much better stand-up comic than he is an actor/director, and should stick to what he's really good at. His last few films - especially those he wrote, directed and starred in, were terrible, culminating with the laughable homage to French New Wave artist, Eric Rohmer, in I Think I Love My Wife.

So, good for you Chris... glad to see you returning to what you do best!

From EURweb:

- Chris Rock brings his stand up back to HBO this fall with a new special shot from three different performances. Debuting Saturday, Sept. 27, "Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger" combines footage shot at South Africa's Carnival City Casino, New York's legendary Apollo Theatre and the Carling Apollo Hammersmith in London.

The rest here: 'Kill the Messenger'

'Star Trek' One-Sheet (IMAGE)

Paramount's just released first teaser one-sheet poster for next year's highly anticipated reimagining of Star Trek, directed by wunderkind director, J.J. Abrams. What you see is four separate individual posters, showing the 4 main characters, including Zoe Saldana's Lieutenant Uhura, top right. The four solo posters, when combined, form the Starfleet federation logo, as seen here.

Princess Tiana And The Frog Prince - Bleh!

Oh boy... oh boy... Disney... Disney... Disney...

Are there ANY black writers with awareness, or black animators, or just black people with some influence over there? Stories like the one below indicate otherwise and sadly, don't surprise me much anymore!

I think I'd rather just have them NOT create stories about "us" altogether, instead of producing these laughable pieces meant to diversify their portfolio as answers to cries of racism within the conglomerate. Just leave "our" stories alone and let "us" tell them ourselves. OR, if they are going to make attempts at telling stories about people of the African Diaspora, do so with some sensitivity - bring in voices that have lived lives somewhat similar to those in the story being told... in essence, make sure you've got some aware black folks on your creative team, and give them the freedom to make suggestions on story, structure, character development, etc, so that the end product is much more authentic than this "Princess Tiana" animated film below.

Read on from Telegraph UK (Thanks Sergio for the heads-up!):

- When Disney announced it was casting its first black princess for its latest animation film, the African-American heroine was hailed as a positive role model for little girls and an ambitious marketing ploy, not to mention an attempt to ward off the allegations of racism that have lurked since the heyday of Walt Disney Productions in the 1940s and 1950s.

But now the film studio finds itself fending off a chorus of accusations of racial stereotyping in its forthcoming big-budget cartoon, The Princess and The Frog: An American Fairy Tale, which marks a return to hand-drawn animation.

A musical set in 1920s New Orleans, the film was supposed to feature Maddy, a black chambermaid working for a spoilt, white Southern debutante. Maddy was to be helped by a voodoo priestess fairy godmother to win the heart of a white prince, after he rescued her from the clutches of a voodoo magician.


So... I Finally Read Tarantino's 'Inglorious Bastards'...

I just finished reading Quentin Tarantino's 165-page draft of his highly anticipated project, Inglorious Bastards.

Quite a read! If anything it's going to be a wildly entertaining, insane ride of a film, and his core fans certainly won't be disappointed.

In as simplistic a way to describe it as I can conjure up, it's a film about angry Jews paying back the Nazis for their many atrocities during WWII.

It's chuck-full-of the usual Tarantino favorites -- violence, shock value, female heroes, plenty of child-like humor, and chunks of snappy dialogue, often loaded with foul-language and popular cultural references (for its time anyway).

I wouldn't look for anything of genuine substance here. It's not a film that's at all interested in anything more than to purely entertain its audience, much like most of Tarantino's previous films.

It's a smart script (although sometimes it feels a little too smart, as if it knows how smart it is), and reads more like a novel actually, than your standard formated screenplay.

Full of camera directions, it's very clear that Tarantino knows exactly what he wants to do with the film, and there's a kind of reassurance in that.

Even though it's being labelled a WWII movie, it's most certainly a work of fiction. There's very little here that's based on historical fact, and Tarantino clearly knows that, and has fun with essentially retelling history his way -- a history whose outcome we all know well, which makes it all the more intriguing to read as he shifts and shapes the story, taking many liberties with characters and facts, giving us an ending to the war that I think many would have preferred than what actually transpired. But his ending doesn't necessarily affect the present.

One complaint I have is in the number of characters in the script. There are about 20 speaking parts, and each plays an important role in the progress of the film, so I had some difficulty keeping track of who was who, as characters enter the story, disappear for awhile, and then show up again later. But I suppose Tarantino seems to love the multi-character, multiple story structure, with intersecting storylines, and characters crossing each others' paths - a style evident in his earlier films like, Resevoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Kill Bill. It makes me wonder if he can actually tell a smaller, singular story, with a lot fewer characters. What he gives us is, in essence, a feature film comprised of several individual short films.

Shooting this will be an expensive challenge because of the sheer number of locations, from Germany, to France, to England - that is if he decides to go for true authenticity in terms of location, attire, etc. Keep in mind that the film takes place 60+ years ago, so there'll certainly be a challenge to recreate time in those countries - again, if he cares about how authentic the film looks; and given that he obviously doesn't care about presenting a historically factual story, we can guess that he likely wouldn't bother with production design details - at least not too rigidly.

There is actually very little English spoken in the film, which I found intriguing. A significant portion of it is in German and French, and will obviously need to be subtitled. And we all know how Americans dislike reading subtitles, given the often weak financial performance of foreign films in this country; so I don't know how concerned the production and distribution studios will be about the film's box office prospects, given that most of it is in 2 foreign languages (as it should be, given the storyline) and, by the way, will be shot partly in black and white!

However, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio (assuming they are both cast in the film) will have to be able to speak one or both languages convincingly, and I'm not so sure either can really pull that off, especially with the little time Tarantino plans to allot to the film's production schedule, with a Cannes 2009 debut as his intent.

By the way, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that there's an interacial love story between a young Jewish girl and a Black Frenchman!

It could be a much shorter script. At 165 pages, there are a few scenes that I think can be removed entirely, or shortened significantly. But, again, when has a Tarantino movie ever been less than 2 hours?

Overall, an entertaining read, as I said earlier. I had fun reading it... it's pure candy and not much more, which might be unexpected given the subject matter. You'll likely find several themes from Tarantino's previous movies within Inglorious Bastards - the mix of ecclectic characters all working towards some specific goal in their own individual ways as we saw in Pulp Fiction; the female anti-hero seeking revenge as we saw in Kill Bill and Death Proof; the "chattiness" of Resevoir Dogs, and more.

I'm curious as to how it will be received - by Jews especially; whether its lack of historical accuracy will be a turn-off for some, or quickly dismissed as unapologetically entertaining fluff!

Whenever the film makes it to theatres, I'll certainly see it, despite my Tarantino aversions!

The Time Has Come...

Exactly 24 hours from now, you know where I'll be (insert hysterical Joker laughter here)! Give how quickly screenings have been selling out over the last 2 weeks, I was surprised I was able to get into one on opening day!

According to Deadline Hollywood Daily: ... close to 4,000 shows have been sold out! Even the number of locations in North America where the comic book caper will be playing -- 4,366 -- is an Industry record. 1,700 of the sell-outs are for showtimes between 12:01 AM and 8:00AM Friday. There are sold-out shows through the weekend from Washington D.C. to Puyallup, Washington, and in towns like Bozeman, Montana and Fitchburg, Wisconsin. 6:00AM shows are scheduled in big cities and small, from San Diego to Hazelwood, Missouri, and Tigard, Oregon, etc. Fandango COO Rick Butler says: “Friday is pacing to be our biggest ticket-selling day in company history. It’s very possible that we’ll break our hourly ticketing record by tomorrow morning.” Currently, Dark Knight represents 94% of ticket sales on, the nation’s leading movie ticketing destination.

It's madness!

Things Heat Up On The View As The Ladies Discuss The Word "Nigger"

Today on The View, the ladies discuss the hypocrisy of Rev. Jesse Jackson using the N-word on Fox News in an off-air comment, and the mood quickly heats up, leaving one person crying in the end. Guess which one? As for my thoughts on the use of the word... I'll share with you later :o) First watch the clip:

Watch Full-Length Documentaries Online For Free! is a brand new website (I believe it was launched in the last 24 hours since news of their purchase of flooded online press pages) where you can watch full-length documentary films for FREE.

With a library of 250 films, and rapidly growing, you’re bound to find films that resonate with your interests.
You can even embed films and put anywhere on the web, like your website or blog, for example, as YouTube and several other video sharing sites currently allow.

However, you cannot download any of the films onto your hard drive or upload to any portable devices like a video-enabled iPod. I'm guessing that might change eventually.

I browsed through the documentary films the site currently offers, and found several that I'd like definitely to watch - a few I've previously seen, including
Super Size Me, Dig, and State Of The Union.

I watched about 45 minutes of Super Size Me on Snag earlier this afternoon, just to get a sense of a image quality, sound, etc... And while it's certainly not the sharpest image, I was able to watch without feeling like I was being robbed of some visual essence. You are provided with video quality options (from low to high bandwidth), as well as size - you can watch it in what looks like a 640X480 screen within the page, or switch to full-screen mode. The sound quality is more than adequate.

Since film screenings are FREE, the site's got to make money somehow, so, of course, there are video ads that occur about ever 15 minutes, which, if you think about it, is almost like watching a film on a network TV station - except in SnagFilm's case, you're subject to only one 30-second commercial for about every 15 minutes of viewing. Fine with me! I wasn't annoyed by them. I just tuned out for 30 seconds and returned when the commercial was over. Of course you can't fast-forward, or skip through the commercials.

Overall, not the best way to watch a film of any kind, even a documentary, but I can say that I'll definitely use the site because I saw a few titles of interest that I've never watched before. In fact, I'll be watching one of them tonight!
So, check out for free full-length documentary film screenings. There's no registration necessary, no signing up of any kind. You simply go to the site, find what you want to watch, and watch it!

The site:

Trailer - 'The Watchmen'

Well, here it is fans (I'm one of them) - the highly anticipated trailer for the highly anticipated 2009 adaptation of the award-winning graphic novel (the only graphic novel to win the prestigious Hugo Award, and the only graphic novel to appear on Time Magazine's list of "the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present).

Of course, I'm talking about The Watchmen!

You either know about them, or you don't. So, I won't even bother with a synopsis. Find out what it's all about here:

Despite the above introduction, I've gotta say that I found the below trailer rather underwhelming!! I know, it's just a teaser, so we'll certainly get a real full trailer eventually, but, I'm not sure if I like the look of it all. It's not quite what I expected and hoped for. It looks a little too "clean" - more so than it should be. If you've read the graphic novel as I have, more than a few times, I think you'll see what I mean. I was expecting something even grittier, dirtier, darker, and uncanny, after all it takes place in a past dystopia. And the soundtrack selection just doesn't do it for me. I should say that its director is the same dude who brought us another graphic novel adaptation which some of you may have heard of, called 300, which was quite successful. I'll be browsing the web right after this post to read what others are saying about it.

Click below to feast your eyes on Rorschach, Dr Manhattan, Ozymandias and all the others, in action!

Tichina Arnold Attempts Dramatic Turn In 'The Lena Baker Story'

Incase you were wondering what the former Martin and Everyone Hates Chris co-star has been up to recently... here ya go...

She stars as the titular character in the upcoming The Lena Baker Story, a film that was shopped around at this year's Cannes Film Market in May, but, to my knowledge is yet to find distributor, whether for television (network or cable), theatre, or home video.

From the film's website: It's based on a true story and takes place in the early 1900’s in Cuthbert, Georgia... The moment Lena Baker thinks she has overcome her inner demons, she is called to work for Elliot Arthur, a white man, father, a millworker and a drunk. As their relationship unfolds, it becomes strange, strained, and highly unacceptable for the time. Elliot needs Lena; Lena seems to need him. He abuses her and keeps her from her children by imprisoning her in his home. When she has finally had enough, Lena stands up and attempts to break free from the bondage of Elliot Arthur. A struggle ensues, and Elliot Arthur, a white man, is shot by Lena Baker, a blac woman, that night in Southwest Georgia in 1945. A jury of 12 white men found Lena guilty of murder and she received the death penalty, earning her a place in history as the first and only woman to be sentenced to death by electric chair in the state Georgia. She was pardoned posthumously in 2005.

My take? I've grown weary of historical black dramas! I don't have any concrete evidence at my immediate disposal, but it certainly feels like that category of film dominates black cinema. If it's a comedy, you can be sure it'll be something contemporary, filled with some form of hybrid minstrelsy. If it's a drama, it's more often than not historically based. Why? Again, I haven't done any hard research on this, so this is all basically conjecture on my part, although I feel quite certain that any research I do will prove this accurate. I'll take on that challenge and report my findings.

As for Tichina's performance? I haven't seen enough of her on screen, so I actually know very little about her range as an actress. But she certainly looks convincing in the trailer.

I'd guess that this will likely make its way to television, and home video.

Here's the trailer for The Lena Baker Story:

BET - Making Moves?

The network recently announced 2 new programming efforts scheduled to begin airing this fall.

What are they?

First: BET News will launch a new weekly political talk show called, The Truth With Jeff Johnson, which will premiere on Friday, August 15 at 11:00 P.M. This program is being described as "provocative" and "will use a mix of investigative reporting and one-on-one interviews with leading experts to review the week's events and examine exactly what the top headlines mean for the Black community." I don't like that title. It sounds comical - "The Truth With Jeff Johnson." I can already hear the jokes: "The TRUPH With Jeff Johnson." It doesn't make me want to tune in and watch BET. I'd change it - just my suggestion of course. BET has certainly gone lacking in their news and views department. They've always needed to step it up in that regard, and maybe this is a move in the right direction... maybe. It could be fun to watch a Bill O'Reilly pugilist-type of show on BET.

Second: BET and Marvel Animation are teaming up to produce an animated series based on the legendary black superhero, The Black Panther. Casting is already underway and the premiere is scheduled for the first quarter of 2009. A special sneak preview will premiere at Comic-Con this month during BET's panel on Saturday, July 26. The series will be adapted directly from the first six issues of the Marvel Comic written by Reginald Hudlin.

And there ya have it!

Each obviously is certainly topical and not coincidental. With Election 08 in full swing, BET probably realized how thin their news coverage has been, especially with a black man in Barack Obama enjoying an unprecedented amount of success in his campaign. How could they not make political news coverage a priority?

And with super hero movie fever pervasive throughout Hollywood and its reach, and with lots of talk of the lack of black super heroes getting celluloid attention, thanks in part to Hancock mania, a TV series about a black super hero on the nation's most prominent black tv station, is, as they say, a no-brainer! Something tells me that if the animated series draws a considerable audience rating, the Black Panther movie that's been rumored to be in consideration, will be fast-tracked!


Emmy Nominations Announced - Diddy Gets No Love

The nominees for the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced earlier today with cable TV networks showing surprising strength.

Of note, the made-for-tv ABC adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's stage play, A Raisin In The Sun, got 3 nods - for Outstanding Made for Television Movie, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (Phylicia Rashad), and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (Audra McDonald).

Not-so surprisingly, Sean Combs aka P Diddy, did not recieve any award recognition for his leading performance as Walter Lee Younger in the production!

That's got to say something about your performance when your chief co-stars are nominated and the show you're in is nominated, but you, as the lead, aren't.

I wonder how that planned "unconventional" Miles Davis bio-pic is coming along...

Surprisingly, The Wire received absolutely ZERO nominations, which many are calling a travesty! As one writer put it, "HBO's gritty drama set in a corrupt and decaying Baltimore, wasn't quite the climax that fans of the David Simon show had hoped for. But it's an injustice that such a brilliant piece of work, which turned the dismal failures of public policy into heartbreaking human tragedy, should have ended its run without a single nod."

See the entire list of Emmy nominees here: EMMY NOMS

The show airs September 21 on ABC.

Armchair Filmmaker - 'Nuts/Off,' The Movie

Just for the sheer fun of it, Xan Brooks over at The UK Guardian asks, who would you cast in the Jackson-Obama story?

The story: The film will be called Nuts/Off, an obvious riff on Face/Off, the John Travolta/Nicholas Cage film for years back. Here's Xan's take: It's the tale of Jackson, an ageing, charismatic African-American politician who wakes one morning to discover his thunder stolen by a stylish new kid on the block. Obama is Jackson minus the baggage, minus the rage and minus the moustache. Jackson wants to support Obama and he wants to cut his nuts off. He's conflicted - and therein lies the drama.

Sounds like a classic already :o)

They need a director and a genre. Some of Xan's suggestions: a drama, but who knows? It could be a musical, a knockabout buddy comedy, or an ultra-violent cartoon in the Itchy and Scratchy mode.

I'd just stick to drama.

Finally, a cast. His inspired choices? Carl Weathers bears a passing resemblance to Jackson, and Lord knows he could use the work. But Obama is more tricky (and is presumably a conundrum that real-life casting directors are already grappling with). Lance Reddick - so good as the upright, cadaverous Lt Daniels in The Wire. But I'm wondering if he might be a mite too forbidding for the role.

Man, I didn't even know Carl Weathers was still alive. But I can see him as Jackson actually, although haven't seen any recent pictures of him, so I don't know how well he's aged. Maybe Tarantino can direct - reviving Weathers' career the way Pulp Fiction brought Travolta back to centerstage. However, this has Spike Lee joint written all over it!

Read more and join the fun with your selections here: NUTS/OFF THE MOVIE

Lionsgate, YouTube Reach Ad-Share Deal

Lionsgate has signed a deal with YouTube that will establish unprecedented cooperation between a film studio and the video file sharing website.

"You can take the strategy of fighting an endless war of trying to take down and resist YouTube or you can take the strategy of embracing the fact people seem to want to watch content in this way. " - Curt Marvis, president of digital media, at Lionsgate.

Good for you Lionsgate! Unlike all the other studios, I think you're finally getting it! Will the others follow suit? We'll see!

So, I guess this means we'll be able to watch all of Tyler Perry's movies on YouTube shortly, since Lionsgate is the sole distributor of his films :o)


Zimbabwe Inflation Hits 2.2 Million Percent!

I can't even begin to make sense of that number. It's unreal! 2.2 million% inflation! In comparison, the average rate of inflation in the US of A over the last 30 year has been relatively stable at around 3 to 4%.

Also, keep in mind that as recently as February, just 5 months ago, Zimbabwe's reported rate of inflation was 165,000%, an unheard of number that was already ridiculously high. At a current 2.2 million%, the prices of basic goods like bread, when available, will go up by 30-40 percent PER DAY!

So, imagine this - a $2.00 loaf of bread today will rise to a price of about $2.80 by tomorrow, and then $3.92 by the 3rd day, and so on, and so forth!

Like I said, I can't even fathom those kind of numbers. It's so insane that it's almost laughable!I'm no economist, so a thorough explanation of how this got so out of hand, or how it can be reversed, escapes me - whether Mugabe is entirely to blame, or if US sanctions on Zimbabwe in order to put pressure on Mugabe are also a culprit, or if it's an amalgamation of both, and a lot more that I'm just not aware of.

And to think that Zimbabwe used to be one of Africa's best performing economies.

The meltdown continues... there has to be a bottom on the horizon.

Leaked Terminator 4: Salvation Teaser Trailer (Christian Bale)

This probably won't last long, because it's a leaked trailer, which I'm sure Warner Bros won't like, and will have it pulled once they find out it exists! Rumor is that the trailer is supposed to play before The Dark Knight opening this weekend, which makes sense since both movies star Christian Bale. The movie doesn't come out until a year from now, by the way, but they're already beating the drums...

Watch it while you still can. This tape will self-destruct in 5, 4, 3, 2, ...

UPDATE 5:54PM: As expected, the video was pulled from YouTube! BUT, if you didn't catch it, it's now over at Yahoo's movie page here: They may have had exclusive rights or something...

Cheadle's 'Traitor' Gets Rating

I just learned that the MPAA slapped a PG-13 rating on Don Cheadles's upcoming espionage thriller, Traitor, which I've written about previously on this blog.

I don't know if I like that. Based on all I've seen and read thus far, I was hoping for a "mature" film for an adult audience, not some watered down, softened up summer movie, made to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. I know, I know, it comes down to the proverbial bottomline - profit!

But knowing that it's going be a PG-13 movie (instead of a hard R) makes me a little less enthusiastic about seeing it.

Of course, I'll still see it, but I'd be lying if I said my already uncertain expectations haven't been lowered.

Traitor hits theatres August 27th.

Incase you need a reminder... here's the trailer:

Wanna Read The Script For Charlie Kaufman's Latest Opus?

I'm sure most of you are familiar with Mr Charlie Kaufman's work - Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and one of my favorites, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, amongst a few others. He of course wrote the screenplays for all of those films, while someone else directed them. With Synecdoche, NY, he not only wrote the screenplay, he also directed the film, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and stars notable thespians, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, and Tilda Swinton.

What's it about?

As his nervous system shuts down, a theater director (Hoffman) struggles with his work, and the women in his life, as he attempts to create a life-size replica of New York inside a warehouse as part of his new play. Catherine Keener plays his first wife, Michelle Williams his second wife, and Samantha Morton his lover. Like previous Kaufman films, this one is said to exist in a blurred reality/fiction, and it's described by Kaufman himself as being ""creepy" but not a traditional horror movie!"

One critic who saw the film at Cannes said this about it: "... two hours of mental-mindf*ck... everyone is way too fried at this point to really sink their teeth into a film requiring this level of intellectual attention, and most of the folks I talked to after the screening felt they really need to see it at least once more to really wrap their minds around it."

Reviews of it have been mostly positive, but, to my knowledge it has no American distributor, which is a surprise given the talent involved. It doesn't sound like it'd be a hard sell! It already has foreign distributors (go figure, right?). So, no word on when the film will make it to American theatres.

Anyway, Kaufman is a master scribe, in my humble opinion. Everytime I watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I always wish I was the one of came up with it! So, this should be well written and an interesting read, at the very least, and I'm looking forward to digging into it!

Help yourselves to it if you want to read it as well, before it disappears.


Thanks to "zdenek" for the connection.

Elizabeth Dole Wants To Name AIDS Bill After Jesse Helms?

This is a head-scratcher! I'm not sure what the hell her reasoning is, or if she's just losing her marbles? Bob, come get your wife!

From HuffPo:

- Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole introduced an amendment to name an HIV/AIDS relief bill after the recently deceased Jesse Helms. Helms, of course, was a strident foe of HIV/AIDS prevention, research and treatment.


John Stewart Responds To Obama's New Yorker Cover (VIDEO)

Leave it to John Stewart and The Daily Show to put everything into proper perspective... haha...

Obama Responds To New Yorker Cover (VIDEO)

"It's a cartoon."

Trailer - 'Live!' (Eva Mendes)

Ehhh... I like the concept, but the execution doesn't excite me much.

The story goes...
A television executive (Eva Mendes) develops what she hopes will become the most watched television show of all time, the ultimate reality show called "Live!" where contestants play Russian Roulette with a loaded gun.

As she struggles to overcome the challenges by the broadcast authorities, her network, and the show's advertisers, a maverick documentary filmmaker records every detail of her glamorous, high powered life.

The documentary filmmaker then becomes involved in the making of the show by creating biographical segments about the contestants, who include a young, struggling writer, an extreme sports star, a man trying to save his family's farm, an aspiring actress, a former super model turned performance artist, and a young immigrant determined to help his family.

Apparently, only those in UK will see it, starting in September.

Nelson Mandela Comic Book In The Works

Cool! If there's one person whose story deserves the comic book treatment, it's Nelson Mandela's :o) He's certainly a different kind of superhero!

But seriously, the man's life story should be made available in every freaking format possible! Books, audiotapes, music, comic books, images, stage, film, etc... I'm surprised that I've yet to see a really solid film about Mandela's life. There've been a few attempts, but nothing memorable at all, and I think that's unfortunate.

Clint Eastwood is said to be in pre-production for a film called, The Human Factor, a story about Mandela's life post-apartheid, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, although from the little I've read about it, I'm getting a Last King Of Scotland kind of vibe from it. If you've seen that film, you'll know what I'm mean.

The most prominent was the 1987 film, Mandela, starring Danny Glover, but that was a made-for-tv movie! Mandela deserves grand celluloid treatment, and I can't say that anyone has done that... yet. What's the hold-up? Maybe the fear is that it just won't produce big box office. Why else?

According to EURweb, a biographical comic book is set to be created in honor of Nelson Mandela in commemoration of his 90th birthday. The comic book will be feature interviews, archived material and illustrations by young black artists as it follow's Mandela's life story, and will be published in July of 2009.

With the current onslaught of comic book adaptations by the studios, maybe the Mandela comic book will show up on someone's radar eventually, after they've run out of all the other titles :o)


Documentary In Need Of Women Who Blog About Indie Film & Related Matters

I was profiled for this documentary a few weeks ago (read all about that HERE). But I'm one of many dudes :o) And apparently, the filmmaker is in need of more female bloggers to profile for his documentary! So, if you fit the bill, please contact Sujewa as indicated below.

Everything you need to know follows:

Indie film blogger doc needs more ladies

I'd like to interview at least a couple more female indie film bloggers for my documentary The Indie Film Bloggers. There are only a few - a handful really - (that I know of) indie film bloggers who are female, so, extra work needs to be done to figure out if there are other female indie film bloggers out there.

So, if you are a woman who blogs about independent film & related matters- and you live in or near the DC or NYC areas- contact me (, send me a link to your blog(s), and I'll see if we can interview you for the documentary- the doc is bound to receive a nice amount of press (hopefully positive :) in the indie film blog world, maybe some screenings too, so, participating in the doc may be a positive thing for your blog & any other projects that you may undertake in the future

I have a great selection of bloggers on tape at the moment (the gender issue aside), so, the doc is going to be great. But, if possible, it would be better to add at least a couple more female indie film bloggers to the film.

Go here for more information about the doc.


- Sujewa

Morgan Freeman, The Wise Cook!

AHEM! Didn't Morgan Freeman say just 2 months ago that he wanted to "kill the Morgan Freeman you know and love," and that he was "sick of playing the all-knowing cop, the principal with a heart of gold, the voice-of-reason sidekick, the ultra-cool president, and he's tired of playing God?"

I believe the term he used to define all those archetypes was, "Mr. Gravitas," stating emphatically that "he wants him gone," and that, "there's a finite number of characters who are like that before you start repeating yourself ad nauseam."

Then why is Mr Freeman taking on yet another role that, on the surface, based on the description below, seems so very much like several characters he's played previously?

I don't know.

From Variety:

- Danny DeVito will direct "The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle," and has set Morgan Freeman, Pierce Brosnan and Saoirse Ronan to star.

DeVito wrote the script, an adaptation of the bestselling young adult novel, and the film is in pre-production, with shooting to begin in September.

Ronan will play the title character, a daring teen who makes a trans-Atlantic crossing from England to America in the 1830s and finds herself caught between a charismatic but ruthless captain and a mutinous crew. Brosnan will play the captain and Freeman plays the ship’s cook, who guides the young woman through the journey.

Maybe Mr Freeman plans on eliminating Mr Gravitas on the film after this one!


Plastic Man - Coming Soon?

The Super Hero movie deluge continues.

Damn! When will the madness stop? Aren't the studios concerned that audiences will soon tire of the onslaught? It's getting ridiculous now.

In the next 2 to 3 years alone, there are several comic book super hero properties that are scheduled to make it to a theatre near you, and will likely include this one: Plastic Man! Yes, Plastic Man. He's not quite as well known as the "Super Mans" and "Batmans" of the super hero universe, but he does (or did) exist, and the infamous Wachowski Brothers (who brought us the Matrix trilogy and the recent box office bomb, Speed Racer) want to give him celluloid life, with Mr Stiff, Keanu Reeves, in the titular role!

What's the difference between this dude and the stretchy guy from the Fantastic Four? This is one super hero I'm not so sure I want to see on screen. Just look at him for chrisakes!!!!

From Latino Review:

- I've always been a fan of Plastic Man since I was a kid. He was much more personable than that stuffy ass Reed Richards. Now underwear inspector Devin over at CHUD is reporting on the Wachowski's wanting to make a movie based off of the character. His source from Berlin named Ballack says the Wachowski's want Keanu in the role.

Would a Plastic Man movie ever be greenlit? Speed Racer tanked at the box office (my review is here) so the Wachoswski weight may not be as mighty as it once was. But after creating the Matrix trilogy of films, the brothers probably don't have much to worry about.


Want To Be In 'Spider-Man,' The Musical?

I'm having a really difficult time picturing how this would look on stage as a musical... I just can't see it! But, somebody (or some people) clearly know something I don't.

MTV Movies:

- Would you want to be in “Spider-Man,” the musical?

The producers of “Spider-Man” have announced an open casting call in New York for singers and actors to audition as Peter Parker, Mary Jane, and Arachne. For Peter Parker, they’d like a male aged or appear to be aged 16- to 20-years-old, with a greak rock voice. He “can be nerdy with understated sex appeal” with a “good sense of humor.” For Mary Jane, they’d like a female in the same age range, with a strong pop/rock singing voice, who has a “beautiful girl-next-door” look. And for Arachne, a dangerous but seductive Spider-Woman, they’d like a female aged 25- to 35-years-old, with “amazing rock vocals.” “Think Sinead O’Connor with a Middle Eastern/Bulgarian/Greek twist,” they say. Foreign accents welcome.

If you want to try out, auditions are at the Knitting Factory, starting at 10 a.m. on July 28. Bring 16 bars of a pop/rock song that shows range, and bring the sheet music. Also bring a photo/resume stapled together, if you have one. “It’s cool if you don’t,” they say.

Director Julie Taymor (who won a Tony for directing “The Lion King”) and musicians Bono and the Edge of U2 (who did the music and lyrics) are behind this adaptation, which would launch in late 2009/early 2010.


New Postage Stamps Honor Early Black Cinema

Ceremonies marking the sale of the stamps that honor vintage black cinema will be held at the Newark Museum in New Jersey. The stamps go on sale tomorrow, Wednesday.

Here are most of them:

- A poster advertising the 1935 film Princess Tam-Tam, starring Josephine Baker.
- Black and Tan, a 19-minute film released in 1929 featuring Duke Ellington and his Cotton Club Orchestra.
- Caldonia, another short at 18 minutes, which was released in 1945. It showcased singer, saxophonist and bandleader Louis Jordan.
- Hallelujah, a 1929 movie released by MGM. It was one of the first films from a major studio to feature an all-black cast.

Get yours at the USPS website, starting tomorrow!


The Few Celebrities Who Wouldn't Sell Pictures Of Their Kids

Looks like I'm not the only one bothered by, or talking about what seems like an increasing trend of celebrity parents selling pictures of their newborn kids to tabloid magazines.

As a follow-up to my Babies For Sale rant yesterday (which you can read HERE), I found the following useful piece on Gawker:

The Few Celebrities Who Wouldn't Sell Pictures of Their Kids

- Nicole Kidman: The Aussie actress made it clear, before any offers were on the table, that she would not be doing a photo op for her baby (with country singer Keith Urban).

- Halle Berry: Same went for the Monster's Ball actress. She kept her birth and her baby's visage private.

- Cate Blanchett: Because she's a class act from top to bottom, the Elizabeth actress didn't cotton to the baby business.

See the rest of them here: SORT OF HEROES.

Secrets To A Happy Union Courtesy Of Will And Jada

So... Will Smith recently confirmed long-standing rumors about his marriage to Jada Pinkett, stating that their's is an open marriage, in which each of them is free to sleep with other people, and that is what has kept their bond so strong for so long.

I remember when I first heard the rumor a couple of years ago, and refused to believe that it was true. But that changed in time; so this confirmation by Will isn't a surprise. Although, I'm sure all those people who questioned the ideology behind the couple's new school for their children, calling it a Scientology experiment, will have even more wood (pun intended) to throw into the pit.

The story goes...

- Will Smith has revealed the secret to a happy marriage - asking permission from your wife before you cheat on her.

The 'Men In Black' star says he and his wife of seven years, actress Jada Pinkett, have made a pact that they can sleep with other people, as long as it isn't behind each others back.

Will, who has confessed to fancying his co-stars, revealed: "Our perspective is you don't avoid what's natural. You're going to be attracted to people. In our marriage vows, we didn't say 'forsaking all others'.

"If it came down to it, then one can say to the other, 'Look, I need to have sex with somebody. I'm not going to if you don't approve of it - but please approve of it'."


But, all kidding aside... if anyone has seen my film, Beautiful Things, you'll know that I'm not entirely sold on long-term monogamy. I think it's a social construct and simply just not natural. Obviously, people do pair up and stay together for lifetimes. But I wonder just how content those people really are. I wonder how many of them might be surpressing some genuine desire for something else, or something more, but are afraid to act on what might in essence be a natural human response to stimuli; or have been so influenced by societal currents that they genuinely believe it immoral to act on their primal desires.

I don't plan on ever getting married. I've been in enough relationships in my 34 years on this planet, and have done enough self-analyzing, reaching certain realizations about myself, that have helped me understand what works for me. And I know that I just can't see myself in a monogamous relationship, with one woman, for more than a few years, let alone the rest of my life!

That obviously puts me in a quandary because most people I know have perspectives on this that are contrary to mine. Not only that - I'm still human, so I crave companionship from time to time like every other member of my species - both emotional and physical. However, the difference is, for me, the novelty wears off eventually - often relatively soon thereafter.

I think I can say that this is likely the case for many others (even though they all won't admit it), since, according to census stats, more than 50% of all marriages (in America anyway) end in divorce! Why, if not for reasons I stated above? It's like we keep trying to force ourselves into believing that there's only this singular specific way to live, even though we haven't been entirely successful with that way.

I don't think the end of a relationship automatically means that the relationship wasn't successful. I believe every experience is meant to be learned from; every person I get involved with is simultaneously a teacher and a student. We learn from each other. And eventually, the symbiosis fulfills its roll in each of our lives, and it's time to end it.

So, I actually appreciate the Pinkett-Smiths' method. Call it madness, but it makes sense to me. I think about these things frequently, and discuss them with friends often as well, so I could write volumes on the subject. I certainly don't plan to spend the rest of my life as a bachelor, but I don't plan to succumb to societal pressure either. I'm sure I can find some happy, healthy middle, which could be as simple as pairing up with a woman who shares my POV.


Man Cuts Off Own Head With Chainsaw!


How the hell is this possible? Wouldn't he have been dead long before he even got half-way through?

From Daily Mail UK:

- A ‘vulnerable’ man cut off his own head with a chainsaw after being ordered to move out of his home to make way for developers, police believe.

David Phyall’s severed head was found beside the power tool inside his housing association flat shortly after receiving his eviction notice.

Detectives were today investigating the possibility that the 58-year-old killed himself rather than leave his home of eight years.

He couldn't have been mentally stable.

The rest here: MAN CUTS OFF OWN HEAD

Trailer - 'Ping Pong Playa'

Sigh... *shaking my head*

The film is called Ping Pong Playa, emphasis on the word Playa, which is spelled just like that. Just watch the whole trailer to see and hear for yourself. And to think this is being released by the same company that recently picked up distribution rights to a film like Medicine For Melancholy. AND it was directed by Jessica Yu, the same filmmaker who brought us some really intriguing documentary pieces in Protagonist and In The Realms Of The Unreal. Films like this and The Wackness annoy me.