7 items from 2017
June 30 would be the 100th birthday of Lena Horne, who had it all: looks, charm, and a singing voice that was noted for its “expressiveness and dramatic intensity,” as Variety once wrote. Hollywood needed her, but she didn’t need Hollywood. The racial barriers were too strong. When MGM signed her in 1942, she was already a successful singer; the studio starred her in two all-black musicals, “Cabin in the Sky” and “Stormy Weather” (which became one of her signature songs). After that, MGM gave her solos in musicals like “Ziegfeld Follies” and “Till the Clouds Roll By.” Her songs were extraneous to the plot; that way, her sequences could be cut for movie theaters that refused to screen films with blacks in prominent roles. Horne continued to have a successful career in nightclubs, records, Broadway and TV well into the 1990s, and she fought for civil rights and equality until her death in 2010, at age 92.
Horne was »
- Tim Gray
In the history of black filmmaking, “Stir Crazy” is rarely cited as a groundbreaker or an enduring high point. However, Sidney Poitier’s 1980 comedy sold more tickets in North America than “The Fate of the Furious,” or any other film by a black director.
Poitier’s career has included multiple breakout moments. He was the first black lead acting Oscar winner with “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner;” he starred in two blockbuster films in 1967 with “To Sir With Love” (over $300 million, adjusted gross) and “In the Heat of the Night” ($177 million, adjusted gross). He was, more than even Denzel Washington or any other black actor-turned-director, an icon of cinema when he made “Stir Crazy.” And it was this film, more than any other, that found access to all domestic audiences.
That said, it’s a film that doesn’t have the resonance of other historical blockbusters like “Gone With the Wind, »
- Tom Brueggemann
Don Kaye May 15, 2017
Director John Badman looks back at his disco classic four decades later...
Saturday Night Fever is the film that made John Travolta into a legitimate star, launched the Bee Gees to the pinnacle of pop success and introduced the world to the subculture, music and fashion of disco dancing - specifically the scene in the clubs of the insular blue collar Brooklyn neighbourhood of Bay Ridge. The movie made the scene and music into a national phenomenon that lasted several years, until the disco craze petered out in the early '80s.
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The whole thing was based on a New York magazine article called 'Tribal Rites Of The New Saturday Night', written by a British journalist named »
Chicago – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.
The show is at the Theater Wit in Chicago on Thursdays through Sundays until April 16th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.
Play Rating: 5.0/5.0
The cast delivers the familiar story by ramping up the comic elements, and giving the characters more high-level personalities. The four main travelers – Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion – have great chemistry, and singing voices to match that chemistry. The chorus/dancers also take on other roles throughout the high energy musical, and entertains at various times with tight and impressive choreography stylings. From the costuming to the orchestration to the use-of-stage, “The Wiz” is »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
THR is reporting that New Line Cinema has acquired an untitled horror pitch from writer Mike Van Waes, which is set in the universe created by L. Frank Baum in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and his subsequent novels.
This marks the latest success for Van Waes, who has sold several pitches and scripts over the past year and a half, including the Black List script Hammerspace to Warner Bros., and the book proposal Peeves to Harper Collins, which has also been optioned by Fox Animation.
Baum’s Oz novels have been adapted on numerous occasions, most famously with the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland. Other adaptations include the 1975 musical The Wiz, 2013’s Oz the Great and Powerful and the NBC TV series Emerald City. A movie adaptation of the hit musical Wicked is also in development for release in 2019. »
- Gary Collinson
There seems to have been quite the resurgence in interest in L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz in recent years – ever since Oz The Great And Powerful arrived in theatres in 2013. We saw the 2014 release of the animated movie Legends Of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, NBC’s 2015 broadcast of The Wiz Live!, the recent premiere of the TV series Emerald City, and the development of an animated series at Warner Bros titled Dorothy Of Oz. New Line Cinema even has an L. Frank Baum biopic in the works, titled Road To Oz. But, it’s the studio’s additional acquisition of an original film pitch that’s making the news today, bringing horror to the world of Oz.
- Sarah Myles
A lengthy talk-fest interview of the underrated filmmaker, who takes us through his life story as a personal journey, not a string of movie assignments. Sidney Lumet seems to attract a lot of criticism, and so did this docu for not challenging his opinions or rubbing his nose in his less admirable movie efforts. The docu is just Lumet’s thoughts, and the words of a man of integrity are always inspiring.
2015 / Color /1:78 widescreen / 103 min. / Street Date January 9, 2017 / 24.95
Starring Sidney Lumet
Cinematography Tom Hurwitz
Film Editor Anthony Ripoli
Directed by Nancy Buirski
This ought to be a good year for documentary filmmaker Nancy Buirski. I first caught up with her excellent feature docu Afternoon of a Faun, about the ill-fated ballerina Tanaquil Le Clerc, and she’s had other successes as well. »
- Glenn Erickson
7 items from 2017
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