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Dailies is a round-up of essential film writing, news bits, videos, and other highlights from across the Internet. If you’d like to submit a piece for consideration, get in touch with us in the comments below or on Twitter at @TheFilmStage.
Spike Lee talks with Chicago Mag about making Chiraq, still due out in December via Amazon:
It is possible to address a very serious subject matter and still have humor. I’ve done it before. Do the Right Thing was serious as hell. It was so serious you can still show that film today—it’s still contemporary. But Do the Right Thing was also funny as a motherfucker. Another example—one of my favorite films, one of my favorite filmmakers: Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove. What’s more serious than the planet’s destruction? But that movie was hilarious. There are many examples—music, plays, novels, movies—where »
- TFS Staff
Probably the biggest marketing tool for this latest season of American Horror Story was the casting of Lady Gaga. As an established pop star, she has proven to be a controversial figure, always upping her on stage antics, even spilling some fake blood to grab the audience attention. The irony with her casting, though as each week rolls on, she is given less screen time, therefore, less to do. Her presence doesn’t feel as strong as she is merely a plot device that barely holds a connection to the ensemble that inhabit the Hotel Cortez and any menacing atmosphere is quickly dissipating due to the addition of more characters and the focus on uninteresting subplots.
One really strong attribute in this overlong episode (75 minutes!) is the season’s first appearance of Angela Bassett, an underrated actress who made her first American Horror Story splash in Coven as the voodoo priestess, »
- Jovy Skol
For the first two installments in this series, I tried to dig apart some of the thematic issues at the heart of science-fiction horror films. But beyond Alien, the subgenre has such a poor reputation that most entries in it aren’t worthy of too much serious consideration. Few horror auteurs ever try their hand at sci-fi horror crossover, and when they do, the results are often mixed.
Unfortunately, the penultimate film from horror master John Carpenter, 2001’s Ghosts of Mars, falls into this second category. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give it our attention; in fact, the film deserves a few words written about it simply because it’s so down-right bizarre. Basically, Ghosts of Mars is an outer space western set on a post-colonial Mars (actually a salt mine in New Mexico dyed with food coloring) in which wanted criminal Desolation Williams (Ice Cube, doing »
- Nathan Smith
When Empire actor Taraji P Henson appeared in cornrows, media reaction came thick and fast. Why are we still analysing black people’s hairstyle choices?
For nearly a century, black men’s and women’s hair has been a political declaration, a cultural statement, a social media moment – and sometimes all three.
Think Angela Davis, fist raised at a 1960s Black Panther rally; Pam Grier, “the baddest one-chick hit-squad” in the 1970s movie Coffy; Erykah Badu looking skyward on the cover of her 2003 album Worldwide Underground, Solange Knowles holding court in a white cape at her 2014 wedding, and, most recently, Lineisy Montero being named fashion’s breakout model of the year.
Henson deserves applause for showing off her natural beauty, but we don’t need to dissect it every time
Continue reading »
- Kenya Hunt
Woodell played one of the Bradley sisters on “Petticoat Junction” from its debut in 1963-65, starring opposite Linda Kaye Henning as Betty Jo and Jeannine Riley as Billie Jo. Bea Benaderet played their mother Kate Bradley, the owner of the Shady Rest Hotel.
Woodell left the season after season two, and was replaced by Lori Saunders. The show, created by Hennings’ parents Paul and Ruth Henning, aired on CBS until April 1970.
Her other TV credits include a 1962 episode of “Cheyenne” and appearances on “The Gallant Men,” “Hawaiian Eye,” “77 Sunset Strip” and “The Munsters.” She was signed by Warner Bros. in the early ’60s. »
- Alex Stedman
“You pink-ass corrupt honky judge, take your little wet noodle outta here and if you see a man anywhere send him in because I do need a Man!”
Foxy Brown screens at the Missouri History Museum Sunday, October 11th at 5:00pm as part of the St. Louis Black Film Festival ‘s A Salute To Classic Black Actresses. Admission is $5
For a complete rundown of all of the A Salute To Classic Black Actresses screenings, go Here
St. Louis Black Film Festival presents A Salute To Classic Black Actresses. The 3-day film fest takes place at Missouri History Museum (5700 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, Mo 63112) October 9th through the 11th and will feature the films of black stars Cicely Tyson, Ruby Dee, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Pam Grier, Eartha Kitt, Diahann Carroll and Juanita Moore.
Aarp members may attend each movie showing free of charge (One free entry per membership card »
- Tom Stockman
Cult director Larry Cohen’s sophomore feature, Black Caesar gets a Blu-ray treatment courtesy of Olive Films. One of two bona fide Blaxploitation efforts Cohen made with Fred Williamson before lurching into the upper echelon of cult genre with his notable guerilla techniques, this basic reworking of 1930s gangster films, (borrowing from items such as Mervyn LeRoy’s iconic presentation of Edward G. Robinson in Little Caesar) displays a bit more integrity in its characterizations than many of these exploitation efforts lack. Reworking a familiar bildungsroman trajectory, Cohen positions his protagonist as an opportunistic product of his environment, leaving us with a moral uncertainty as his hero is completely consumed, an inevitable result of continued sustenance from the gutter. By today’s standards, it’s incredibly problematic rendering of urban certainties has the tendency to repulse, and yet Cohen instills Williamson with a bit of presence and dignity often lacking »
- Nicholas Bell
“Let me tell you the story of Right Hand, Left Hand. It’s a tale of good and evil. Hate: it was with this hand that Cane iced his brother. Love: these five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand: the hand of love. The story of life is this: static. One hand is always fighting the other hand, and the left hand is kicking much ass. I mean, it looks like the right hand, Love, is finished. But hold on, stop the presses, the right hand is coming back. Yeah, he got the left hand on the ropes, now, that’s right. Ooh, it’s a devastating right and Hate is hurt, he’s down. Left-Hand Hate KOed by Love!”
The next two Sundays, two of my favorite movies about the black experience will be showing at The Missouri History Museum (5700 Lindell Blvd, St. »
- Tom Stockman
Film was a particularly difficult industry for black actresses to break into. Hattie McDaniel was the first black actress to ever win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1939, for playing Mammy in Gone With The Wind, opening the door for more black women to appear in prominent roles in film. Specifically for screenings in the 1940s South, where a black actress couldn’t play anything but a servant on screen, beautiful women like Lena Horne were given roles that were expendable, able to easily be cut out of films without affecting the plot. Eventually, movies would reflect the real-life improvements in race relations, leading to Halle Berry becoming the first black woman to win a Best Actress Oscar in 2001. The St. Louis Classic Black Film Festival is proud to present a new film festival celebrating the roles and careers of eight pioneering black actresses in a variety of films spanning four decades. »
- Tom Stockman
You may have heard that Quentin Tarantino's new interview at Vulture is entertaining, and that's because it is. He discusses "The Hateful Eight," perceptions about his career and influence, and his opinion of other filmmakers. He's especially keen on David O. Russell. Many Twitter users have said that the Q&A is filled with "truth bombs," and that's sort of true, but it's also filled with tired old biases disguised as brave stances, and one particular quote caused me to twinge in agitation and boredom. "I don’t know if we’re going to be talking about The Town or The Kids Are All Right or An Education 20 or 30 years from now. Notes on a Scandal is another one. Philomena. Half of these Cate Blanchett movies — they’re all just like these arty things. I’m not saying they’re bad movies, but I don’t think most of them have a shelf life. »
- Louis Virtel
The St. Louis Classic Black Film Festival is seeking funds to pay for rental of theater space and for licensing of the classic movies that will be shown at their upcoming Salute to Classic Black Actresses which will be held in St. Louis September 3-6 2015. The 4-day film fest will feature the films of black stars Cicely Tyson, Ruby Dee, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Pam Grier, Eartha Kitt, Diahann Carroll and Juanita Moore. The group is seeking funds to pay for rental of theater space and for licensing of the classic movies that will be shown and have set up a GoFundMe page which can be found Here
The St. Louis Classic Black Film Festival was initially established as a vehicle for exposing Black cinema. The annual St. Louis Black Film Festival was green-lighted after recognition that though St. Louis is the largest city in Missouri, »
- Tom Stockman
Happy August, dear readers. We’re in the last month of the summer movie season, and the big releases are starting to taper off. But there are always big movies to look forward to, and this week’s Trailer Trashin’ brings you my thoughts on our first look at the second of next year’s DC Comics movies – David Ayer’s Suicide Squad.
Premise: A secret government agency run by high-ranking official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) creates the “Suicide Squad,” a task force comprised of imprisoned supervillains. The squad is assigned to carry out dangerous missions in exchange for shorter prison sentences.
My take: No preamble this time, let’s just dive in.
0:01-0:22: Our first look at Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, the ruthless, high-ranking government official who created and commands the Suicide Squad. Davis is a great actress, and I think she’s going to »
- Timothy Monforton
Over his twenty-three year career, Quentin Tarantino has made some of the most memorable, quotable and violent movies of all time. He is an astute student of film, an expert on using cinematic language and a marquee draw for moviegoers the world over. Audiences flock to their local multiplexes to watch his latest blood-soaked, foul-mouthed, gun-totting thriller as soon as itʼs released.
Itʼs become commonplace that once his latest offering has its theatrical run, rumours begin circulating as to what his next film will undertake. And there’s a lot to choose from.
Heʼs been linked with a childrenʼs movie; a Howard Hawkes-style screwball comedy; a Friday the 13th entry; a remake of 70s Italian psychological horror The Psychic; a Jimi Hendrix biopic; a medieval movie starring Helen Mirren; an Arnold Schwarzeneggerʼs comeback vehicle; a 1930s gangster movie; a remake of Russ Meyerʼs trashy Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! that wouldʼve starred Britney Spears, »
- James Armstrong
Kino Lorber resurrects the obscure and fascinating 1974 Blaxploitation gem Truck Turner this month for the first time on Blu-ray. One of Isaac Hayes’ most notable acting performances, it’s a head above the general trend of similar genre titles of the period, even though the film features a familiar narrative already well re-tread by the time of its release. Hayes fashions his own soundtrack for this retro classic, an oddity begging to be rediscovered.
Truck Turner (Hayes) is a football star turned bounty hunter, in the midst of hunting down a vicious, sadistic pimp named Gator (Paul Harris) with the help of his sidekick, Jerry (Alan Weeks). But Gator proves a hard target to pin down, leading up to a dramatic showdown where Truck is forced to kill the pimp in self-defense. His death causes a ripple in the criminal community of Los Angeles and forces the aggressively violent Madame »
- Nicholas Bell
Suicide Squad is scheduled for release on August 5, 2016.
The film's Comic-Con trailer is a stunner
DC/Warners have promised to go dark with their comic book offerings, and the first Suicide Squad trailer - unveiled at San Diego Comic-Con 2015 - is just that. Black, twisted and with plenty of crazy moments, it promises to shed light on the origins of Task Force X and also tie itself further to the DC film universe.
Well, really, 'live to see the day' isn't a phrase you associate with a team known as the 'Suicide Squad'. This trailer landed at San Diego Comic-Con 2015 over the weekend, and wasn't really intended to be seen by the general public for a while, but Warner Bros relented and gave the fans what they wanted.
Here's how this is going to work. »
Arrow Video resurrects Jack Hill’s first solo directorial effort, Spider Baby (1967) for lovers of cult oddities. Prior to becoming a lynchpin in the Blaxploitation film movement with his signature Pam Grier titles such as Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974), Hill knocked around as co-director on B-grade horror films, including Roger Corman and Stephanie Rothman projects. Unfortunately, this strange little number didn’t see release for several years due to its producers getting tied up in bankruptcy. Originally titled “Cannibal Orgy,” the theatrical release kept the extended title of Or the Maddest Story Ever Told (several other venues played it under the title The Liver Eaters). Not nearly gritty or violent enough to warrant such provocative monikers, its eventual name remains the most befitting. Featuring horror alum Lon Chaney Jr. and an eerie early role for (an almost unrecognizable) Sid Haig, Hill was obviously inspired at arming popular genre motifs with teeth. »
- Nicholas Bell
Olive Films recently released several Blaxploitation titles on Blu-ray for the first time, all on the same day. This included the Fred Williamson-starring Hammer, from 1972, as well as three Pam Grier films: Coffy (1973), Foxy Brown (1974), and Friday Foster (1975). Hammer isn’t a particular favorite, but these latter three were most welcome, especially Coffy, which is quite possibly the greatest of all Blaxploitation features, even better than the more popular Shaft (1971) and Super Fly (1972). As much as anything, these three releases are notable for showcasing Grier at her finest during a period of immensely enjoyable work and exceptional productivity—15 films from her minor debut in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) to Friday Foster. Around these films, she also starred in several other »
- Jeremy Carr
“Men…just the worst, am I right?” my girlfriend astutely asked after we watched Coffy. Indeed we are. For as much as Jack Hill’s landmark 1973 barn-burner is a fairly honest evocation of the struggles in the black community, it’s hard to get away from the fact that men (both specifically and systemically) are basically responsible for all the evils that take place. Even some who seem decent are corrupt. The only person you can really trust is yourself.
Pam Grier plays the titular nurse out for revenge on the men who got her little sister hooked on drugs. The problem with revenge, as every revenge film can attest, is that there are no simple acts of revenge. New enemies are found or created. New challenges must be met. It’s no wonder this role launched Grier to a sort of stardom. She brilliantly holds the screen, playing to »
- Scott Nye
Towering aggressively over the legacy of the problematic film movement of 1970s Blaxploitation is the iconic figure of actress Pam Grier, emblazoned in our memories as the self-reliant beauty holding her own (well, mostly) with her male co-stars prior to her white female counterparts, like Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton. She’s an important cinematic figure, and much like the symbolic essence of Marilyn Monroe, her reputation outweighs familiarity with many of the films that brought her iconicity. Arriving in the middle of her gamut of classic titles was 1975’s Friday Foster, of which Grier is the eponymous star. Campy, cringe worthy, and so remarkably asinine it may just as well be classified as sci-fi, production values and an impressive supporting cast surely solidifies the title as requisite viewing for Grier’s fan base. Unfortunately, for all involved, their talents (a common complaint of the genre) are worthy of less slipshod silliness. »
- Nicholas Bell
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