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Slamdance 2013 Review: Psycho Thriller 'Vipaka' Aims To Thrill But Underwhelms

20 January 2013 1:14 PM, PST

Directed by French/Lebanese director Philippe Caland (Boxing Helena), the psychological thriller Vipaka had its premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival today. Set in New Orleans, Vipaka (a Buddhist term for Karma) has its share of thrills and twists, but unfortunately fell short of our expectations. On one hand, it was nice to see black characters in this kind of a story, and in this genre, since that doesn't happen often; but, on the other hand, the film seems content with blending in with other similar thrillers. Thomas Carter, played by Anthony Mackie, has become a renowned author of a book that recounts his near-death experience after a car wreck five years »

- Shadow And Act

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Update: Weekend B.O. Jan. 18-20 (Mama Doubles Its Production Cost, Django Scores Big Overseas while Arnie Flops)

20 January 2013 10:05 AM, PST

The Gulliermo del Toro produced ghost story/horror film Mama did better than expected, while former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to the big screen was underwhelming, to say the least. The $15 million dollar Mama was No.1 this weekend, with an excellent $33.2 million opening, twice what it cost to produce it, while Arnie's action movie, The Last Stand, did a paltry $7.4 million. Allen Hughes' film noirish Broken Cuity underperformed, while Marlon Wayans' A Haunted House, though it took a big dip, is well into the black, considering its very modest $2.5 million production budget. Django Unchanged still shows signs of »

- Sergio

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Condoleezza Rice To Join CBS News

20 January 2013 9:39 AM, PST

CBS News has announced that Dubya's former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will join the news organization as a "contributor." CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager and president David Rhodes jointly released a statement, saying that Rice "will use her insight and vast experience to explore issues facing America at home and abroad." What exactly that means and how Rice will be doing that for CBS News, has not been revealed in detail. »

- Sergio

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Is 'Movie 43' Being Dumped By The Studio?

20 January 2013 6:55 AM, PST

Well it certainly looks that way. We might have to chalk this one as another entry in the "Lose" column for both Halle Berry and Terrence Howard. The low budget ($6 million) dollar sketch comedy, which we have reported on, was financed and is being distributed by Relativity Media and is opening this Friday without any advance publicity or fanfare. And, not surprisingly, no advance screenings for the media have been set up anywhere, which is always a sign that a studio thinks it has a real stinker on its hands and wants no negative advance word before it opens. The film, in which each segment was directed by a different director - including Brett Ratner, Peter »

- Sergio

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Sundance 2013 Review: Shaka King's 'Newlyweeds'

19 January 2013 5:16 PM, PST

Newlyweeds, the debut feature of writer-director Shaka King, is many things. It is an intriguing new take on the stoner comedy, the romantic comedy, and one might even say the “black comedy.” It’s a charming independent venture that takes chances, many of which that work, in presenting a love story about growing up and growing apart. It’s also really funny. The film focuses on couple Lyle (Amari Cheatom) and Nina (Trae Harris), two twenty-somethings who spend a rather large portion of their time together getting high. Nina is a free-spirited tour guide at a local museum, while Lyle holds down a job he absolutely despises as a repo man for a seedy rent-to-own »

- Zeba Blay

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Slamdance 2013 Review: Clever 'Big Words' Is A Well-Acted & Engaging Feature Debut By Neil Drumming

19 January 2013 1:23 PM, PST

Premiering at Slamdance 2013 in Utah this past Thursday, Neil Drumming’s feature film debut Big Words has been one of our most anticipated films of the fest’s lineup, and that anticipation is well deserved. Drumming, a black man by the way, is a former staff writer and editor at Entertainment Weekly whose sole film credit prior to Words is the short film Hi Res, which stars Jevon McFerrin and Nadia Kiyatkina.  The narrative takes place in the backdrop of the 2008 election. Although it’s barely a backdrop, it further added significance to the film’s underlying theme of change in these characters’ lives. While watching the film I kept wishing »

- Vanessa Martinez

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Video: Director George Tillman Jr, Alicia Keys Discuss 'The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete'

19 January 2013 1:15 PM, PST

And, in a case of perfect timing, coming up right behind Zeba's review of The Invitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, is this video interview with director George Tillman Jr. and executive producer and composer Alicia Keys, which they did with The Hollywood Reporter, revealing some background on the making of the film. Along with them is young actor Skylan Brooks, who plays the role of Mister in the film, recounting some experiences while working on the movie. »

- Sergio

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Sundance 2013 Review: George Tillman Jr's 'The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete'

19 January 2013 12:56 PM, PST

Outside the theater after a recent Sundance screening of director George Tillman Jr’s The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, a buyer, who shall of course go unnamed, gave his final appraisal of the film to a group of friends. He declared the movie to be: “Precious-like,” “not quite the essence of the ghetto movie,” and in no way “marketable.” Comparisons to Precious may abound with this movie and though they are lazy comparisons, they should not be wholly surprising: both films deal with the overall awful lives of young youths living in the ghetto. What the “essence” of the so-called ghetto movie actually is remains to be »

- Zeba Blay

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Morgan Creek Hires 'Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete' Writer To Rewrite Tupac Biopic Script

19 January 2013 12:04 PM, PST

And here we go again with new updates on the long-in-development Tupac biopic, which S&A has been closely following over the years. Previously, Antoine Fuqua's Tupac project, which seemed like it would be made, appeared to be dead. As you might recall, it had been greenlit by Morgan Creek Productions, with shooting expected to begin in September 2011, with Oscar-nominated screenwriters Stephen J. Rivele and Chris Wilkinson (for Ali & Nixon) hired to write the script. The story would have reportedly center on the last day of Tupac's life, and included flashback sequences that showed the previous years »

- Courtney

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First Full Trailer For Roger Ross Williams' Feature Doc 'God Loves Uganda'

19 January 2013 11:05 AM, PST

Described as a journey into the heart of East Africa, where Ugandan pastors and their American counterparts spread God’s word and evangelical values to millions desperate for a better life, Roger Ross WilliamsGod Loves Uganda, is making its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival this week. Inspired by his own roots in the African American Baptist church, director Williams says that he seeks to explore a place where religion and African culture intersect. "I am interested in the exploration of religion in Africa, with the goals of understanding and healing. I am the son of a pastor, the brother of a pastor and I spent my life growing up singing »

- Courtney

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Your Chance To See 'Donoma' & 'La Pirogue,' At The Web-Based My French Film Festival Now!

19 January 2013 9:13 AM, PST

A reminder... Here's your chance to see two of the films that made S&A's list of black film highlights for the year 2012 (read it Here) - Hatian filmmaker Djinn Carrénard's guerrilla triptych Donoma, and Senegalese director Moussa Toure's La Pirogue. (which was recently acquired for distribution by ArtMattan Productions). The 3rd annual 2013 My French Film Festival online event lets audiences almost all over the world discover new French cinema via the web.  From January 17 to February 17, 2013, film enthusiasts around the globe will be able to access all the films in the festival's 3rd edition lineup, online, for a fee, »

- Courtney

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Trailer: Rom-Com 'Miss Dial' (Robinne Lee, Gabrielle Union & Hill Harper); To Be Released March 12th

18 January 2013 6:24 PM, PST

Here's a project we have been following since the summer of 2011. We last alerted you in August of last year that the rom-com Miss Dial has been acquired by Phase 4 Films, with a multi-platform release planned. A quick recap... Written and directed by David H. Steinberg, the Iron Triangle Productions Miss Dial stars Robinne Lee, Sam Jaeger, Jon Huertas, Sara Rue, Dule Hill, Gabrielle Union and Hill Harper, among others. Robinne plays the lead role of Erica, described as "a consumer affairs rep who deals with irate customers calling about everything from the availability period of the “limited edition” cheddar cheese to whether it’s safe for dogs to »

- Vanessa Martinez

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Sundance 2013 - 'Twenty Feet From Stardom' Acquired By RADiUS-twc For Summer 2013 Release

18 January 2013 4:04 PM, PST

The the Sundance Film Festival has begun, and the first deal has already been made - the acquisition of a film that was on the S&A list of 24 *black films* to see at the festival this year. First, a recap... Aptly titled Twenty Feet From Stardom, here's how it's described by the festival, where it's set to make its debut next month: What would a pop song be without the riffs, refrains, and harmonies of its backup vocalists? Although these singers are usually relegated to the margins, and few, if any, become household names, their work has defined countless songs that remain in our hearts and collective consciousness. Twenty Feet from Stardom »

- Tambay A. Obenson

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Carl Franklin's 1st Big Screen Project In 10 Years Gets A Release Date + A New Trailer

18 January 2013 3:15 PM, PST

First, a recap... A project we've been following since we first discovered it in late 2010, from director Carl Franklin (Devil In A Blue Dress, One False Move), called Bless Me, Ultima, based on Rudolfo Anaya’s award-winning novel of the same name, which chronicles the turbulent coming-of-age story of Antonio, a young boy growing up in New Mexico during World War II, and his relationship with Ultima, an elderly medicine woman who helps Antonio navigate the dangerous battle between good and evil raging in his village, and ultimately helps him discover his own spiritual identity. The project was actually announced in early 2009, with Franklin also »

- Tambay A. Obenson

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First Look Photos At Nia Long In 'House Of Lies'

18 January 2013 2:42 PM, PST

Here's your first look (photos above and below) at Nia Long in the Showtime comedy series, House Of Lies, which stars Don Cheadle. Long makes her debut on the series on this Sunday night's episode; she joins the cast in a recurring role, playing Tamara - Galdweather Stern's newest partner-level consultant and rival of Marty's (Don Cheadle) from business school. Based on the book, House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Tell You the Time by Martin Kihn, the second season of House Of Lies returned to Showtime last Sunday, on January 13th. Nia Long's debut will air this Sunday, January 20, at 10 »

- Tambay A. Obenson

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10 New York Premieres Including Alain Gomis’ 'Tey' Headline 3rd Annual New Voices In Black Cinema Fest

18 January 2013 1:41 PM, PST

I'm very glad to have helped put this line-up of feature films together, with 10 New York premieres of some solid films! Excellent for a festival that's only in its 3rd year. In the absence of the former head of ActNow Foundation, Aaron Ingram, who passed away last year, a hat-tip to Curtis Caesar John (who also does the This Week In Black TV posts here on S&A) and Marty Majeske, the legal eagle, and man behind the curtain! This should be a good year, as we look towards even greater years ahead! The 10 New York premieres include films that we've highlighted here on S&A, like: Alain Gomis’ Aujourd’hui (Tey), Russ Parr’s The »

- Tambay A. Obenson

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5 Netflix Streaming Discoveries This Week For You To Watch This Weekend (1/18/13)

18 January 2013 12:46 PM, PST

A feature I started about 4 months ago; I thought I'd be able to do it weekly, but, lately, it's been more like monthly. Recapping the idea... Netflix now has about twice as many streaming subscribers than DVD subscribers, according to a company financial statement during the first half of this year, it means more of you continue to sign up for Netflix streaming accounts, specifically. And a common complaint I hear is that, available streaming titles aren't as robust of DVD titles - especially when it comes to recent releases.  But what I can do is alert you to films (old and new) that are streaming on Netflix, that you may not already »

- Tambay A. Obenson

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Review: What 'Luv' Says About Manhood, or the Lack Thereof... (Opens Today)

18 January 2013 11:38 AM, PST

Writer/director Sheldon Candis’ first feature is a gutsy Baltimore drama centered on 11-year-old Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.), a fatherless youth who gets a lesson in the hard-knock life from his hustler Uncle Vincent (Common). At the outset, Woody is living with his grandmother (Lonette McKee), longing to reunite with his estranged mother (Tracey Heggins), and is enamored with his Uncle Vincent, who’s just been released from an eight-year stretch in prison. Woody happily accepts a ride to school from Vincent one morning, only to be taken for an even wilder ride when his uncle decides Woody should instead spend the day on the streets with him. Vincent is trying to go straight »

- Jai Tiggett

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New Release Trailer For 'The Bastard Sings The Sweetest Song' (Opens Today)

18 January 2013 11:22 AM, PST

Recapping... From Toronto-based art house, world cinema, independent feature films and documentaries distribution company, College Street Pictures, comes a documentary we first profiled in May of 2012, when it was scheduled to screen at the Shefflied Doc/Fest. College Street will open Christy Garland's intriguing-looking documentary, The Bastard Sings the Sweetest Song, in Toronto, today, Friday, the 18th, at the Royal Cinema. The feature doc's synopsis reads: Georgetown, Guyana, South America. Muscle is juggling a lot of balls. He has his eye fixed firmly on the middle class, hoping to pull his extended family up with him. In the »

- Tambay A. Obenson

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L.A. Rebellion 2013 Retrospective Review: Jamaa Fanaka's 'Emma Mae' + Interview w/ Star Jerri Hayes

18 January 2013 10:53 AM, PST

Editor's Note: The retro is being rebooted for runs in Philly, Toronto and New York through February. Over the next few weeks, we'll be revisiting our reviews/write-ups/interviews on the series (from Brandon Wilson and Nijla Mumin) when it begun in Los Angeles over a year ago... here's another. The overview and complete lineup speak for themselves, so click Here to head over to the home site for the series. When I asked Jerri Hayes how it felt to revisit her star turn in Jamaa Fanaka’s second feature Emma Mae (1976) after a recent screening, she answered without hesitation. “You know, it’s so different; I was sitting there relating to Emma »

- Brandon Wilson

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