13 items from 2015
I have a terrible confession to make. It’s really bad — the kind of thing that will forever tarnish me in your eyes. Are you ready? Oh God, oh God, here I go … I love biopics. Love them. I love the way they marry escapist gloss with Hollywoodized history, combining atmosphere with ennoblement. I love the sanitized, simplified, often fictionalized life lessons. I love the star turns — Leonardo DiCaprio Is Howard Hughes! Denzel Washington Is Malcolm X! Helen Mirren Is Queen Elizabeth! Daniel Day-Lewis Is Abraham Lincoln! Robert Downey Jr. Is Charlie Chaplin! Meryl Streep Is Margaret Thatcher! Morgan Freeman Is Nelson Mandela! Anthony Hopkins Is Richard Nixon! Gary Oldman Is Ludwig Van Beethoven! Will Smith Is Muhammad Ali! I love the gorgeous cinematography and rousing scores. (Biopics almost always have gorgeous cinematography and rousing scores.) I love the fluff pieces on how this or that actor or »
- Bilge Ebiri
Beginning Friday, Spike Lee's crowd-funded love story about immortal blood addicts, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, unspools in select theaters. Lee, who wrote, produced, and directed the film, spoke with Vulture about the movies, books, and people that have influenced his latest joint, as well as his career as a whole.The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley Every year, I go back and reread The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley. I was in seventh or eighth grade in Rothschild Junior High School in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York — we had to read that, and that book changed my life. At that time, I had no idea what I wanted to do, let alone be a filmmaker. But I was blessed to get to do [Malcolm X] with the great, great Denzel Washington, who gave one of the greatest performances of all time. »
- Sean Fitz-Gerald
America is awakening from the fantasy of living in a post-racial society despite the leadership of a black president. This current racial landscape is crucial to understanding the attitudes and addictions in Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. Many African Americans are angry, thirsty for blood, or have coped with hardships through destructive habits. The pastor’s message in a black Baptist church is timely and resonates emotionally. “Put down that 22, put down the 38, put down your 45! Oh, glory to God lift up your Bible and put down that oozie! You don’t need no Ak 47, you need Romans 8:21,” he howls.
It feels cold: an exhausting insatiable desire; like a vampire’s thirst for blood, addiction is unsatisfying. No amount of sex, drugs or violence can kill the inner beast and satisfy the need for redemption. For all the gruesome blood on display in the blaxploitation vampire flick, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, »
- Josh Cabrita
Ilyasah Shabazz -- daughter of civil rights leader Malcolm X -- believes people of all races can freely drop n-bombs in public ... as long as black artists keep using it. Shabazz was outside Spago when she made the comment -- which many will find surprising considering her father's history. Watch, she also takes hip-hop to task for how frequently the n-word is used. It's a far cry from "by any means necessary" ... but extremely thought provoking. »
- TMZ Staff
Spike Lee and I go back a long way, to "She's Gotta Gave It." I've interviewed him many times, from Cannes for "Do the Right Thing (he was robbed!) and on the set of "Malcolm X" to talking on a Sunset hotel roof about "The 25th Hour," based on the novel by David Benioff. We've had our dust-ups over the years too, which may be why we settle right in for this interview at the studio of photographer Daniel Bergeron, who shot a fabulous portrait of Lee for Indiewire. We cover a lot of ground, from what being an independent meant when he started and what it means now, his changing relationship with the studios, his comments to Ava DuVernay on "Selma"'s Oscar nominations, to his love of documentaries and some projects he did not get to make. He thanks his children for clueing him into social media, which »
- Anne Thompson
Book and author spotlight: X, A Novel Author Ilyasah Shabazz Book Signing, Feb. 6 in Los Angeles. Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of famed civil rights activist Malcolm X, will commemorate the 50th anniversary of her father’s assassination with an appearance at Loyola Law School where she will discuss her father’s life and sign copies of her new book entitled X, A Novel, Friday, February 6, 2015 at 12 pm. The event will be attended by Loyola students, faculty and community leaders. BackgroundMalcolm X was assassinated at the age of 39 by three gunmen at point blank range on the evening of February […] »
- April Neale
When the Oscars snubbed David Oyelowo for his portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, critics were up in arms. But Oyelowo says it's just part of Hollywood's long legacy of ignoring black actors in strong roles, pointing to Denzel Washington not winning for Malcolm X back in 1992. "We've just got to come to the point whereby there isn't a self-fulfilling prophecy, a notion of who black people are that feeds into what we are celebrated as. Not just in the Academy - just in life generally," he told the crowd at the Virtuoso Awards at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Sunday. »
- Michele Corriston, @mcorriston
“Selma” star David Oyelowo addressed the controversy over the film’s Oscar snubs at the Santa Barbara Film Festival on Sunday, admitting that he believes “we, as black people, have been celebrated more for when we are subservient; when we are not being leaders or kings or being in the center of our own narrative, driving it forward.”
Oyelowo noted that this has been borne out in previous Oscar results, admitting, “To me, Denzel Washington should have won for playing Malcolm X,” and adding that he believed Sidney Poitier should have been awarded his Oscar for “In the Heat of the Night” (for which he wasn’t even nominated) rather than for “Lilies of the Field.”
Though “Selma” is among the eight nominees for best picture, Oyelowo and the film’s director, Ava DuVernay, were not recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which drew ire across the Internet. »
- Variety Staff
Chicago – The excellent film “Selma” focuses on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But just as important as King were the marchers from supporting civil rights societies, such as the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (Sncc), and their leaders like James Forman, portrayed in the film by Trai Byers.
Byers is an up-and-coming actor, with “Selma” being his first major film after stints on the daytime drama “All My Children” and the revival of “90210.” But besides “Selma,” Byers has a high profile part as Andre Lyon, the son of lead character Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) on the huge new Fox Network hit, “Empire.” The freshman drama has already been picked up for a second season, and its maneuverings within the Shakespeare-in-the-music-industry vibe has connected with viewers.
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures
Trai Byers was in »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Spike Lee is just as annoyed as anyone, if not more so, about the Oscars' snub of Selma. But as someone who has been overlooked himself -- namely in the Best Picture category for 1989's Do the Right Thing -- he knows there's more to a film's legacy than its trophy case. In an interview with The Daily Beast for an upcoming profile of the Malcolm X filmmaker, Lee addressed the Academy's snub of Selma actor David Oyelowo, who played civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. [...] »
Lee advised DuVernay to shake it off.
“That doesn’t diminish the film,” Lee told The Daily Beast. “Nobody’s talking about motherfuckin’ Driving Miss Daisy. That film is not being taught in film schools all across the world like Do the Right Thing is. Nobody’s discussing Driving Miss Motherfuckin’ Daisy. So if I saw Ava today I’d say, ‘You know what? Fuck ’em. You made a very good film, »
- Jordan Chariton
Following the New York premiere of “Selma,” a dramatic account of a pivotal chapter in the civil rights movement, director Ava DuVernay, actor David Oyelowo and other cast members took to the steps of the city’s public library, raising their arms in the “don’t shoot” pose and wearing T-shirts bearing the last words of slain Staten Island resident Eric Garner: “I can’t breathe.” The red-carpet event and protest unfolded on the same December weekend that saw more than 25,000 demonstrators march through the streets of Manhattan after a grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the choking death of Garner.
It was a surprisingly blunt statement of political and artistic intent for a film that likely would have struck a resonant chord in any year — not least because it’s the first theatrical feature ever made about the life of Martin Luther Jr. (Oyelowo), and »
- Justin Chang
How could Ava DuVernay, a former Hollywood publicist and Sundance-winning director of a movie that cost just $200,000, be the one to break the long trail of futility in mounting a major movie that conveyed how much of a galvanizing presence Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was in the battle for civil rights in America? Coming aboard Selma after the previous star package cratered under Lee Daniels, DuVernay found herself with David Oyelowo’s determination to play Mlk, a Paul Webb script and little else. The director (who made uncredited contributions to the script) managed to navigate around formidable obstacles, not the least of which were copyrights on Mlk signature speeches held by his estate. After platforming the film for Oscars, Paramount opens it wide this Friday. This interview was done before several confidantes of President Lyndon Johnson complained he has dishonestly been depicted as, at most generous, a benign force »
- Mike Fleming Jr
13 items from 2015
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