9 items from 2016
American Idol season 1 debuted about a week after The Wire season 1 did. Though my TV tastes over the years trended much more towards complicated scripted dramas like the latter, I spent a long time watching the former, and enjoying it in the moments when the series wasn't busy padding its run time with inanities (like the entire judging career of Randy Jackson) and simply let the contestants sing. Often, those performances were just overpraised photocopies of the original moments, but when an Idol singer put their own stamp on a familiar tune, or dug up an obscurity and made it sound like a hit, I couldn't begrudge the series its enormous popularity. Eventually, the show got too repetitive for me to stick with, especially as more and more scripted options rose up demanding my attention. The last time I watched an Idol season from start to finish was the 9th, »
- Alan Sepinwall
With songs like "Mississippi Goddam" and "Why (The King of Love Is Dead)," Nina Simone earned a reputation as the voice of the civil rights movement as racial tensions reached a peak in the 1960s. Now, Simone's life is once again coming to the fore thanks to the upcoming biopic Nina, with Zoë Saldana drawing controversy for portraying the legendary musician. (Its release comes a year after What Happened, Miss Simone, which was ultimately nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar.) But just who was Nina Simone? In the end, she's a woman who left an important legacy in both »
- Kathy Ehrich Dowd, @kathyehrichdowd
Every actor hopes to make the world a better place. Sidney Poitier actually did it.
Feb. 20 marks the 89th birthday of Poitier, who was born in 1927 and who changed Hollywood. The film industry’s lack of diversity is still an issue, as the Oscar nominations furor reminds us. But it was even more extreme when the actor made his film debut in the 1950 “No Way Out.” There were other black actors in lead film roles, including James Edwards and Harry Belafonte, but they were extremely rare. And Poitier captured the public imagination like no one before him, with his soft but powerful voice, his precise way of speaking (with that slight, unidentifiable accent from the Bahamas) and, crucially, his integrity.
A Dec. 11, 1957, article in Variety announced his casting in the film “Porgy and Bess.” Poitier said he’d originally turned down the role, due to “the fear that if improperly handled, »
- Tim Gray
There's a semi-hidden Hollywood treasure in Deadpool. No, it's not star Ryan Reynolds, although he is perfectly cast; it's prolific, award-winning actress Leslie Uggams, who plays Deadpool's no-nonsense elderly roommate, Blind Al. Uggams' entertainment career spans six decades, countless stages and screens. One which began at the ripe old age of 6 and includes a Tony, an Emmy and performances with icons like Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Charlton Heston. "I was a ham at 5, I was working at 6," Uggams, 72, tells People via a phone call from Chicago, where she is currently filming a guest arc on Empire. »
- Kara Warner, @karawarner
Don Cheadle, at the Berlin Film Festival for the premiere of his Miles Davis biopic “Miles Ahead,” described the making of the film as “a herculean task,” adding that he had “to wear every hat because that was the only way to get the movie done.”
Cheadle directed, co-wrote, produced and stars in the film, which premieres Thursday in the Berlinale special gala showcase.
“Miles Ahead” focuses on a couple of days in the artist’s life in the late 1970s, a period in which David had “fallen into a creative chasm and the most interesting time in his life for me,” Cheadle said.
Much of the film’s story follows Davis’ attempts to recover an unheard session tape that has fallen into the hands of an unscrupulous record producer. Discussing the pic’s ’70s-style action, Cheadle said he actually saw himself in the project playing Miles Davis playing himself in a film. »
- Ed Meza
One of the foremost 20th-century shapers of an African-American literature and identity, the subject of “Maya Angelou and Still I Rise” wore many hats in a long, complicated life that has been given valedictory treatment in Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack’s documentary. Made over a four-year period (which enabled them to interview Angelou several times before her 2014 death at age 86), this solid if conventional PBS-style overview of her work and times should have a long shelf life among broadcasters and educators.
Taking a straightforward chronological approach, the pic commences with the celebrated author’s tumultuous early years, which were the focus of so much of her writing — most famously her poetical 1969 memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” her first and still most popular and influential book. (It also remains one of the books most frequently banned from U.S. schools for its frank depiction of child sexual abuse and racism. »
- Dennis Harvey
Julie Andrews, Max von Sydow and Richard Harris bring James Michener's true saga to life -- but it's the story of the destruction of paradise. A huge success just the same, producer Walter Mirisch's film testifies to the skill with which he brought together big talent for a show that doesn't compromise with a happy-happy historical revision. Hawaii Blu-ray Twilight Time Limited Edition 1966 / Color / 2:35 widescreen / 161 min. / Ship Date January 19, 2016 / available through Twilight Time Movies / 29.95 Starring Julie Andrews, Max von Sydow, Richard Harris, Gene Hackman, Carroll O'Connor, Jocelyne Lagarde, Manu Tupou, Ted Nobriga, Elizabeth Logue. Cinematography Russell Harlan Production Designer Cary Odell Art Direction James W. Sullivan Film Editor Stuart Gilmore Original Music Elmer Bernstein Written by Dalton Trumbo, Daniel Taradash from the novel by James Michener Produced by Walter Mirisch Directed by George Roy Hill
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
Well, fans of James Michener that missed the »
- Glenn Erickson
London — The British Academy of Film and Television Arts will bestow on Sidney Poitier its highest honor, the Fellowship, at the BAFTA Film Awards on Feb. 14. The Fellowship, which is awarded annually, is given to an individual in recognition of “an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, television or games.”
Previous recipient of the honor include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench and Martin Scorsese. Mike Leigh received the Fellowship at last year’s film awards.
Amanda Berry, chief executive of BAFTA, said: “Sidney is a luminary of film whose outstanding talent in front of the camera, and important work in other fields, has made him one of the most important figures of his generation. His determination to pursue his dreams is an inspirational story for young people starting out in the industry today. By recognising Sidney with the Fellowship »
- Leo Barraclough
Pioneering actor to receive BAFTA’s highest honour.
BAFTA is to honour Us actor Sidney Poitier with its Fellowship honour at the Ee British Academy Film Awards in London on Feb 14.
Awarded annually, the Fellowship is the highest accolade bestowed by BAFTA upon an individual in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, television or games.
Fellows previously honoured for their work in film include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Lee, Martin Scorsese, Alan Parker and Helen Mirren. Mike Leigh received the Fellowship at last year’s Film Awards.
Poitier said: “I am extremely honored to have been chosen to receive the Fellowship and my deep appreciation to the British Academy for the recognition.”
The pioneering actor’s award-winning career includes six BAFTA nominations, including one BAFTA win for The Defiant Ones (1958), and a British Academy Britannia Award for Lifetime »
- email@example.com (Michael Rosser)
9 items from 2016
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