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7 items from 2004


Halle Moving In with Boyfriend?

3 December 2004 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry has taken a major step in her romance with Michael Ealy - she's moving him into her new home. The Monster's Ball beauty started dating the Barbershop star after her marriage to Eric Benet came to an end last year, and now pals say that once construction is completed on her Malibu, California, home, she'll move her new beau in. The two were recently seen inspecting the $8 million four-bedroom, five-bathroom home, where they shared a champagne toast before going for a romantic beach stroll. »

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November

9 July 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

IFC Prods.

PARK CITY -- How annoyed a viewer will get with Greg Harrison's psychological thriller "November" will depend on how many times one has seen movies that play games with reality by tracking back and forth over a single incident, each time providing new and contradictory clues. This InDigEnt production, shot in digital video on a skimpy budget, does show how filmmakers can use light, color and design to push movies into experimental modes of storytelling more intriguing than big-budget thrillers that pay scant attention to style. The problem lies with the story these filmmakers choose to tell.

Benjamin Brand's script never levels with a viewer. Each time you witness the events of a Nov. 7 convenience store robbery, in which several people die, things transpire differently. This turns out to be neither a case of "Rashomon" nor recovered memory. Rather, the film is b.s.-ing you all along. What happens in the first act is shown to be a misrepresentation by the second act, which in turn proves a deliberate distortion in the third.

Like "Blow Up", the protagonist is a photographer, a person who supposedly can capture reality. On the night in question, Sophie (Courteney Cox) and boyfriend Hugh James Le Gros) stop at a corner market. While she waits in the car, Hugh is shot during the robbery.

A while after the murders, Sophie goes to a therapist (Nora Dunn) for help with stress and headaches. One day in the photography class she teaches, a slide taken of the store the night of the robbery turns up in the projector's carousel. She then experiences nightmares about the event that contradict her original story to police. Is she cracking up? Or did some other person witness the murders?

The night of Nov. 7 is shown three times, each with the circumstances and outcome drastically altered. The film also plays fast and loose with chronology, making it unclear whether events take place before or after the murders.

Playing a bewildered if not clueless character, Cox is as convincing as she could possibly be. Le Gros, Dunn, Michael Ealy as Cox's secret lover and Anne Archer as her mother are game, but the story line keeps changing their attitudes and motivations.

Cinematographer Nancy Schreiber is the movie's real heroine, as she dramatically meshes the real with the surreal, creating different looks and emotions for each segment through light and color. »

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Griffin nabs 'Pryor' TV experience

8 July 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Eddie Griffin is set to play the central character inspired by Richard Pryor in Pryor Offenses, a comedy pilot for Showtime that Pryor is executive producing, while Oded Fehr and Michael Ealy have been tapped to topline another Showtime pilot, the drama The Cell. Pryor Offenses, a half-hour inspired by the veteran comedian's stand-up material, is an updated take on Pryor's real-life experience as a thirtysomething comedian (Griffin) on the verge of a career breakthrough who is dealing with a ton of personal issues. Billy Grundfest penned the script and is executive producing the pilot with Pryor and his wife, Jennifer Lee Pryor. »

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Griffin nabs 'Pryor' TV experience

8 July 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Eddie Griffin is set to play the central character inspired by Richard Pryor in Pryor Offenses, a comedy pilot for Showtime that Pryor is executive producing, while Oded Fehr and Michael Ealy have been tapped to topline another Showtime pilot, the drama The Cell. Pryor Offenses, a half-hour inspired by the veteran comedian's stand-up material, is an updated take on Pryor's real-life experience as a thirtysomething comedian (Griffin) on the verge of a career breakthrough who is dealing with a ton of personal issues. Billy Grundfest penned the script and is executive producing the pilot with Pryor and his wife, Jennifer Lee Pryor. »

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Barbershop 2

15 March 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Opens

Friday, Feb. 6

An appealing cast inhabits well-defined characters with warmth and ease in this reunion of the Barbershop staff. Exec producing this time, Ice Cube reprises his turn as good-guy straight man to a winning comedy ensemble, while Cedric the Entertainer steps into an expanded role as the memorably opinionated, "semiretired" barber Eddie. Again pitting the beloved neighborhood institution against unwholesome business interests, Barbershop 2: Back in Business has a rollicking time reaching its foreseeable conclusion. With the built-in draw of an established concept and the addition of Queen Latifah, the film should have the legs to surpass its predecessor's take of $75 million.

The script by Don D. Scott, one of the 2002 hit's three writers, is more earthbound than the first installment. In place of painfully dumb thieves and unbelievable police raids is a bit of social context. Chicago itself is more of a presence, from its elevated trains to its late-'60s turmoil. Opening with a slice of back story from 1967 that shows how Eddie first arrived at the South Side barbershop, the film jumps into present-day action with his rant about biracial public figures and the D.C. snipers.

Given the controversy the first film stirred up with its skewering of civil rights icons, the comments this time around don't have quite the same shock value. As funny as Eddie's contrarian attitudes can be -- especially in Cedric's inimitable delivery -- there's a sense in the early going that the film is trying too hard, in its good-natured way, to offend. Once director Kevin Rodney Sullivan (How Stella Got Her Groove Back) relaxes into the story, though, the rants become an integral part of the nonstop kibitzing.

Having withstood money troubles and loan-shark maneuvers in the first film, Calvin (Ice Cube) finds his shop targeted by a cigar-chomping developer (Harry Lennix) who's installing Chicago's first branch of the Nappy Cutz chain directly across the street. Boasting such amenities as titanium clippers, leather smocks and flat-screen TVs, not to mention room to play hoops, the new haircut emporium gives Calvin ample reason to worry. Go-getter Jimmy Sean Patrick Thomas), who has left barbering for politics -- Eddie calls him West Wing -- tries to help Calvin save his business, appealing to his verbiage-spouting boss, Alderman Brown (Robert Wisdom).

As they navigate personality clashes and other tensions, Calvin's haircutters remain more or less united, especially against Calvin's fresh-from-barber-school cousin (SNL's Kenan Thompson), who they wordlessly agree is an annoyance and a fool. Isaac (Troy Garity), the sole white barber, is more convinced than ever of his haircutting super-talents, and Nigerian immigrant Dinka Leonard Earl Howze) still harbors a crush on take-no-prisoners Terri (Eve), who's catching everyone off-guard with her serenity-now enlightenment -- she's even willing to share her apple juice. Ex-con Ricky (Michael Ealy) is still secretive and enigmatic when Terri discovers what he's been up to, she uncovers another surprise in the process.

Introducing the role she'll play in the upcoming spinoff Beauty Shop, Queen Latifah makes an impression as Gina, an ex-girlfriend of Calvin's and a stylist at the women's salon next door -- where things really get raunchy. Gina and Eddie face off in a rousing bout of insult comedy that's one of the film's best scenes, not only for the laughs but for the underlying affection.

Colorful, witty production and costume design heighten the spirited proceedings, and cinematographer Tom Priestley effectively uses black-and-white and desaturated color in flashback sequences. Helmer Sullivan keeps it all moving at a lively pace. Despite the predictable story arc, he and writer Scott generally avoid plot tidiness, letting strands unwind and overlap, propelled by the terrific actors.

BARBERSHOP 2: BACK IN BUSINESS

MGM

State Street Pictures/Cube Vision

Credits:

Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan

Screenwriter: Don D. Scott

Producers: Robert Teitel, George Tillman Jr., Alex Gartner

Executive producers: Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez, Mark Brown

Director of photography: Tom Priestley

Production designer: Robb Wilson King

Music: Richard Gibbs

Costume designer: Jennifer Bryan

Editor: Paul Seydor

Cast:

Calvin: Ice Cube

Eddie: Cedric the Entertainer

Jimmy: Sean Patrick Thomas

Terri: Eve

Isaac: Troy Garity

Ricky: Michael Ealy

Dinka: Leonard Earl Howze

Quentin Leroux: Harry Lennix

Alderman Brown: Robert Wisdom

Kenard: Kenan Thompson

Gina: Queen Latifah

Loretta: Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon

Miss Emma: Jackie Taylor

Running time -- 106 minutes

MPAA rating PG-13 »

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Never Die Alone

18 February 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Screened

Sundance Film Festival

PARK CITY -- If director Ernest Dickerson and writer James Gibson (adapting a story by cult novelist Donald Goines) missed a cliche of the urban gangster genre in "Never Die Alone", it wasn't for lack of effort. Inspiring walkouts at a festival where virtually no one walks out, "Never Die Alone" will do exactly that by its second weekend.

Routinely but unconvincingly directed by Dickerson, the movie possesses not a single character with the brains to get through a day without creating a huge mess. The hopelessly contrived plot has heavy-drinking white writer Paul (David Arquette), living in downtown Los Angeles to "research" his tales from the dark side of life, witness a brutal knife attack outside his favorite bar on a much-hated drug dealer named King David (DMX). For absolutely no reason, Paul climbs into the dying man's car and rushes him to the hospital.

We are next asked to believe the dead man's last act was to bequeath to Paul his car, which contains stacks of drug money and audiotapes of him reciting the sorry story of his crimes and murders. While Paul listens to these tapes -- and we witness David Life's in flashbacks -- hoods ruled by drug kingpin Blue (Antwon Tanner) set out to eliminate not only Mike (Michael Ealy), the knucklehead who finished off David, but also Paul.

As we watch David Life's unfold, we learn that when not selling drugs, he amused himself by enslaving his lovers to drugs by sneaking heroin into their cocaine. If a girlfriend threatened to go to the police, he made certain she went nowhere. The pattern began a decade before on the East Coast with Edna (Keesha Sharp) and continues in Los Angeles, first with TV actress Janet (Jennifer Sky) and then college student Juanita (Reagan Gomez-Preston).

The actors tear into each scene with terrific energy, but these roles are so hollow that it might have been better if at least one or two chilled. Arquette is lost in this nonsensical role, but who could make sense of such an idiot? DMX struts through the movie like the rap star he is. Ealy manages to convey a modicum of introspection, but given what is later revealed about his past, his hotheaded approach to a man he detests seems like very poor judgment.

Matthew Libatique's gritty, kinetic cinematography gamely tries to convince us that "Never Die Alone" lies within the rich tradition of film noir. Alas, this is just film ugly. At the end of the movie, when an editor finally gets a look at Paul Story's about King David, he slams the manuscript shut and says, "I don't believe a word". Amen to that.

NEVER DIE ALONE

Fox Searchlight

Fox Searchlight and ContentFilm present a Bloodline Films productionin association with White Orchid Films

Credits:

Director: Ernest Dickerson

Screenwriter: James Gibson

Based on the novel by: Donald Goines

Producers: Alessandro Camon, Earl Simmons

Executive producers: Edward R. Pressman, John Schmidt, Angelo A. Ellerbee, Rudy "Kato" Rangel, Marc Gerald, Dion Fearon, Cameron Casey

Director of photography: Matthew Libatique

Production designer: Christiaan Wagener

Music: George Duke

Costume designer: Marie France

Editor: Stephen Lovejoy

Cast:

King David: DMX

Mike: Michael Ealy

Paul: David Arquette

Blue: Antwon Tanner

Edna II: Drew Sidora

Moon: Clifton Powell

Jasper: Luenell Campbell

Janet: Jennifer Sky

Juanita: Reagan Gomez-Preston

Running time -- 89 minutes

MPAA rating: R »

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November

27 January 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

IFC Prods.

PARK CITY -- How annoyed a viewer will get with Greg Harrison's psychological thriller "November" will depend on how many times one has seen movies that play games with reality by tracking back and forth over a single incident, each time providing new and contradictory clues. This InDigEnt production, shot in digital video on a skimpy budget, does show how filmmakers can use light, color and design to push movies into experimental modes of storytelling more intriguing than big-budget thrillers that pay scant attention to style. The problem lies with the story these filmmakers choose to tell.

Benjamin Brand's script never levels with a viewer. Each time you witness the events of a Nov. 7 convenience store robbery, in which several people die, things transpire differently. This turns out to be neither a case of "Rashomon" nor recovered memory. Rather, the film is b.s.-ing you all along. What happens in the first act is shown to be a misrepresentation by the second act, which in turn proves a deliberate distortion in the third.

Like "Blow Up", the protagonist is a photographer, a person who supposedly can capture reality. On the night in question, Sophie (Courteney Cox) and boyfriend Hugh James Le Gros) stop at a corner market. While she waits in the car, Hugh is shot during the robbery.

A while after the murders, Sophie goes to a therapist (Nora Dunn) for help with stress and headaches. One day in the photography class she teaches, a slide taken of the store the night of the robbery turns up in the projector's carousel. She then experiences nightmares about the event that contradict her original story to police. Is she cracking up? Or did some other person witness the murders?

The night of Nov. 7 is shown three times, each with the circumstances and outcome drastically altered. The film also plays fast and loose with chronology, making it unclear whether events take place before or after the murders.

Playing a bewildered if not clueless character, Cox is as convincing as she could possibly be. Le Gros, Dunn, Michael Ealy as Cox's secret lover and Anne Archer as her mother are game, but the story line keeps changing their attitudes and motivations.

Cinematographer Nancy Schreiber is the movie's real heroine, as she dramatically meshes the real with the surreal, creating different looks and emotions for each segment through light and color. »

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7 items from 2004


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