10 items from 2013
This reframing of Langston Hughes's gospel play is perfect, heartwarming festive fare
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You'd have to be pretty full of seasonal humbug to resist this spirited screen homage to Langston Hughes's "gospel song play" which was first performed off-Broadway in 1961, and has since become a seasonal staple. Jacob Latimore plays Baltimore teen Langston, sent to stay with his estranged grandparents in New York when his mother receives an eviction notice. Uncomfortably ensconced with the proud Reverend Cornell Cobbs (Forest Whitaker) and his glowing wife Aretha (Angela Bassett), Langston scorns the open doors of the church in favour of the mean streets of Harlem, wherein he hopes to solve his mother's financial woes and discover the truth about his absent father. Kasi Lemmons, who did such a great job directing Eve's Bayou in the 1990s, brings warmth and passion to the unashamedly schmaltzy and contrived proceedings, »
- Mark Kermode
Women filmmakers of color don't get that many times at bat in our myopic movie world. Which makes the four-feature output of Kasi Lemmons since her breakout with 1997 "Eve's Bayou" even more remarkable. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Lemmons moved to Boston with her mother when her academic parents divorced. She studied drama and film at Nyu, UCLA and the New School of Social Research, where she met her husband of 18 years in a dance class, fellow actor Vondie Curtis-Hall. Many of Lemmons' films have dealt with artists, teachers and musicians. "I am drawn to music," she says. "It was always important to me, like poetry and art are important to me."Producer Celine Rattray first suggested the project to her. "Look no further," Lemmons told her. "Please let it be me." Lemmons has enjoyed a long relationship with Fox Searchlight, where she developed a mystery about a black woman »
- Anne Thompson
Kasi Lemmons, director of Eve's Bayou and Talk to Me, chose a play by poet Langston Hughes as the basis for her new movie. Black Nativity is first and foremost a musical, featuring original pieces of music as well as new arrangements of familiar hymns and carols. Lemmons even co-wrote some of the songs, with Raphael Saadiq producing the music (he shares the "Music by" credit with composer Laura Karpman).
The music is the best thing about Black Nativity. Without the songs it would likely be a far more disappointing movie, as you can see plot lines coming from a mile away. There are a couple times when a character says something that punches you in the gut with its earnestness, but otherwise the story is as ridiculous as it is predictable.
Langston, a fatherless kid from Baltimore played by young Jacob Latimore, is sent to live with grandparents he's never met. »
- Elizabeth Stoddard
Directed by Kasi Lemmons (Eve's Bayou), the story follows young Langston (Jacob Latimore) who is sent to stay with his estranged grandparents, Aretha and Reverend Cornell (Bassett and Whitaker) over the holidays where he discovers why his single mother (Hudson) has broken contact with the family. A musical treat featuring performances from Hudson, Nas and the rest of the cast, Black Nativity is largely set around Reverend Cornell’s nativity sermon and performance.
Hear what the cast has to say about the holiday story and working with one another in this new holiday musical after the jump! »
- Rachel West
Well, we finally found a guest whose work so moved Melinda that she started tearing up in the interview. If you haven't seen Kasi Lemmons' "Eve's Bayou," it's one of Melinda's favorite movies of all time. We discussed the 1997 film, but also Lemmons' new movie, "Black Nativity," which is based on Langston Hughes' musical of the same name. We had a great time talking to Kasi, who walked us through her creative process, the challenges of bringing together a "dream cast," and why it's been so great to work with major talents including Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, Don »
- Liane Bonin Starr and Melinda Newman
It may be the dog days of summer, but that doesn't mean the studios aren't already teasing their upcoming winter offerings.
The first trailer for "Black Nativity" dropped today, advertising the film as the "musical event" of the holiday season. Starring Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Nas, Jacob Latimore, Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Hudson, it could very well make good on that hyperbolic promise.
The film is a contemporary retelling of the Langston Hughes play, with Latimore playing Langston, a kid whose mother (Hudson) sends him to live with his estranged relatives after their house is foreclosed on. From there he goes on a remarkable Christmastime journey of discovery -- all set to song.
The film marks the long-awaited return of writer/director Kasi Lemmons, responsible for the critically praised features "Eve's Bayou," "The Caveman's Valentine," and "Talk to Me." (She was also an actor early on in her career, »
- Drew Taylor
This week on The Collision, we are joined by Allison Keene and Charles Judson. Our conversation is sparked by a Mad Men spec script from actress Erika Anderson, which brings African-American characters into Matthew Weiner's critically acclaimed show. From there, our conversation expands to explore diversity in popular TV series, if showrunners should feel obligated to diversify their casts, the difficulty in writing minority characters, and much more. As always, we finish up with our recommendations. Click here to listen to the new episode of The Collision, click here for the previous episode ("Violence and Evil Dead"), click here to add the podcast to your RSS, and click here to find us on iTunes. To keep up to date with The Collision, you can follow us on Twitter at @MattGoldberg, @AdamChitwood, and @DrClawMD (Dave Trumbore). Hit the jump to check out the trailers for this week’s recommendations. Allison's »
- Matt Goldberg
"Eve's Bayou" (1997) has become a contemporary classic in Black cinema. Directed by Kasi Lemmons and set in the early 1960s in Louisiana, the film is primarily a family drama. It also has the distinction of being about a specific place that wasn't absorbed into the Civil Rights and Black Power movements that were picking up steam across the country around that time. With all of their secrets and betrayals, the affluent Batiste family is far from perfect; although in an early scene the mother of the philandering Dr. Louis Batiste (played by Samuel L. Jackson) says that all of the women in the community act like he’s the Second Coming. And it's true. This »
- Abdul Ali
A slew of Oscar faves like Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson are on tap for holiday musical "Black Nativity," which began principal photography today in New York. The adaptation of the 1961 Langston Hughes play, "Black Nativity" will boast new songs and arrangements from producer and singer Raphael Saadiq, with director Kasi Lemmons ("Eve's Bayou") at the helm. Considering its a musical film, there are other artists on tap in the cast: Nas, Tyrese Gibson (or, simply, Tyrese), Island Def Jam's Luke James and RCA artist Jacob Latimore are also added. "Black Nativity" is a story that follows Langston »
- Katie Hasty
Two new actresses have been added to the upcoming sixth season of HBO's True Blood.
Amelia Rose Blaire will play Willa Burrell, daughter of the governor of Louisiana. The two do not see eye-to-eye on the vampire rights issue (I have to assume she is "for.") Blaire's few credits have been mostly guest roles on shows like Grimm, 90210, Touch, and The Glades.
Jurnee Smollett will play Nicole Wright, an idealist who is always looking to do what is right. Smollett's credits include Eve's Bayou, Roll Bounce, and Friday Night Lights. Smollett will join as a regular, while Blaire will be a recurring character with the option to become a regular.
- Alyse Wax
10 items from 2013
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