When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006) - News Poster

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Sammy Davis Jr. ‘I’ve Gotta Be Me’

Sammy Davis Jr. ‘I’ve Gotta Be Me’
Premiering at Tiff 2017, Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me is the first major film documentary to examine Davis’ vast talent and his journey for identity through the shifting tides of civil rights and racial progress during 20th-century America.

Today Sammy Davis is seen primarily as part of The Rat Pack. That quartet of bad boys who sing and joke around is very much a part of time when Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin were the kings of the Las Vegas scene.

But Sammy Davis Jr. was much more than that and merely by lending his black face to that group makes The Rat Pack seem like a liberal if slightly dissolute, but a filled-with-fun group. In truth, his position with Sinatra, Martin, Peter Lawford was not all that comfortable and the path Davis had already trod before landing there was not a simple or easy one.

He
See full article at Sydney's Buzz »

In Praise of Duration

  • MUBI
Conventional limitations on cinematic runtimes, often driven by basic practical and commercial concerns, are at once arbitrary and enduring. Under 90 minutes is short; over 150 minutes is long. Short films lie on one end of the spectrum and Andy Warhol on the other. But even limiting discussion to non-experimental feature films reveals a wide variation in the use of massive duration, discussions of which tend to be obscured by the hyperbole (in both directions) that such films often elicit. (This hyperbolic tendency also extends to trilogies, multi-part films, or even novels and literature in general. Just ask anyone who’s seen Sátántangó or read Infinite Jest.) Nonetheless, such films tend to be fascinating opportunities for exploration, both in their justification for and use of such length. And on the occasion of Mubi’s retrospective of Lav Diaz’s filmography (the body of work that most consistently makes use of duration), three vastly different 2016 films,
See full article at MUBI »

Spike Lee Coming to Netflix

by Kieran Scarlett

It was recently announced that Netflix has ordered ten episodes of a TV series adaptation of Spike Lee’s 1986 debut feature film She’s Gotta Have It. Lee will direct all ten episodes. The age of prestige television truly allows for more fluid movement (at least behind the camera) from film to TV and back again. Spike Lee’s last few features (despite good notices for Chi-raq) have had trouble catching fire outside of the arthouse the way his earlier work has, for this reason or that. He’s certainly a polarizing figure and resistance to his work is built in to certain audiences.

Tracy Camilla Johns and Spike Lee in She's Gotta Have It (1986)

Have you seen She’s Gotta Have It? It’s a very fascinating piece, both on its own and in the larger context of Lee’s filmography. There’s a beautifully bare-bones
See full article at FilmExperience »

She’s Gotta Have It: Spike Lee helming Netflix remake

Tony Sokol Sep 16, 2016

Spike Lee is set to direct and produce a 10-episode Netflix remake of his debut feature, She’s Gotta Have It...

Spike Lee is coming to TV. Netflix ordered 10-episode series based on Lee’s debut feature movie She's Gotta Have It.

Netflix says the She’s Gotta Have It series will be a contemporary remake of the film and Lee will direct all 10 half-hour episodes. He will also executive produce with wife Tonya Lewis Lee. The project was originally set up at Showtime two years ago.

Lee put out the following statement:

"She’s Gotta Have It Has A Very Special Place In My Heart. We Shot This Film In 12 Days (2 Six Day Weeks) Way Back In The Back Back Of The Hot Summer Of 1985 For A Mere Total of $175,000. Funds That We Begged, Borrowed and Whatnot To Get That Money. This Is The 1st Official
See full article at Den of Geek »

‘She’s Gotta Have It’ Series Based On Spike Lee Film Coming To Netflix

  • Indiewire
‘She’s Gotta Have It’ Series Based On Spike Lee Film Coming To Netflix
In 1986, Spike Lee released his feature-length debut film “She’s Gotta Have It” about sexually independent Brooklynite Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) who juggles three suitors: Jamie Overstreet (Tommy Redmond Hicks), Greer Childs (John Canada Terrell) and Mars Blackmon (Spike Lee). The film garnered much critical acclaim upon release and was credited with ushering in the American independent film movement in the 1980s. Now, Deadline reports that the film is being adapted into an episodic TV series for Netflix after being in development at Showtime for two years. Lee will direct all the episodes and will executive produce with his wife Tonya Lewis Lee.

Read More: Spike Lee’s ‘Birth of a Nation’ Short Almost Got Him Kicked Out of Nyu

In a statement about the series, the veteran director says, “We Are Getting An Opportunity To Revisit These Memorable Characters Who Will Still Be Relevant And Avant Garde 3 Decades Later.
See full article at Indiewire »

The 50 Greatest Films by Black Directors

Slate magazine has drawn up an interesting list of great black films, the twist being that they have to have been directed by a black person rather than about the black experience so out go Old Hollywood musicals like Carmen Jones or Cabin in the Sky or Oscar favorites like Sounder.  In the wake of recent conversations about Hollywood's power structures and overwhelming whiteness, Slate assembled a field of critics and filmmakers and scholars to produce the list.

Eve's Bayou

I need to get cracking on my gaps in knowledge from this list, especially because of the titles I've seen from this list several were great and the ones I didn't personally connect to were still interesting (Night Catches Us) or memorable (Eve's Bayou - I've been meaning to give that another shot now that I'm older). Unsurprisingly Spike Lee has the most titles with six. Curiously, though I've seen
See full article at FilmExperience »

Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall review – Spike Lee plays it safe in documentary

The archival footage is smile-inducing, and some of the talking heads are perceptive – but this film is straightforward and ignores Jackson’s demons

Spike Lee’s documentary work has seen the director delve into huge moments in African American history, pulling at threads and reopening old wounds in the pursuit of shedding new light on familiar stories. In 4 Little Girls he explored the church bombings in Alabama that claimed the lives of four young black girls; When the Levees Broke explored the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that left many in New Orleans asking whether the Bush administration cared if they lived or died. With Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall the Mo endures, with Jackson’s evolution from child star to solo pinup drawing Lee’s gaze.

Continue reading...
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Spike Lee Films, Ranked From Worst to Best

  • Vulture
Spike Lee Films, Ranked From Worst to Best
This list originally ran in August 2012, tied to the release of Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer. In the three years since, Lee has released a 2013 remake of Oldboy, last year's Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, and, as of this week, the powerful mess of a film Chi-Raq. We've updated this list to include those recent offerings from this true Hollywood original. Spike Lee has been making films for a little more than a quarter century, and while he's had both misfires and masterpieces, the one thing you can say about his movies is that they are never, ever boring. We went through the Lee canon and ruthlessly ranked his films, from worst to best. We included only his theatrical releases — Lee has made several television documentaries and even a TV pilot — with one notable exception (his Katrina doc for HBO, When the Levees Broke), because it's one of
See full article at Vulture »

Spike TV Developing Scripted Drama Series, "When The Levee Breaks," on Race & Law Enforcement

Not to be confused with another Spike (surname Lee) and his documentary ("When the Levees Broke")...   Spike TV is teaming up with screenwriter Kurt Wimmer ( "Law Abiding Citizen," "Salt," and the upcoming "Point Break") to develop a new dramatic TV series titled "When The Levee Breaks," which will reflect "a number of hot-button issues that are culturally relevant today, including race and law enforcement," says the press release. "When The Levee Breaks" follows events that take place when an illegal strike by the Lapd threatens chaos in Los Angeles. An African American cop, said to be the series' central...
See full article at ShadowAndAct »

Spike TV Developing Scripted Drama Series, "When The Levee Breaks," on Race & Law Enforcement

Spike TV Developing Scripted Drama Series,
Not to be confused with another Spike (surname Lee) and his documentary ("When the Levees Broke")...   Spike TV is teaming up with screenwriter Kurt Wimmer ( "Law Abiding Citizen," "Salt," and the upcoming "Point Break") to develop a new dramatic TV series titled "When The Levee Breaks," which will reflect "a number of hot-button issues that are culturally relevant today, including race and law enforcement," says the press release. "When The Levee Breaks" follows events that take place when an illegal strike by the Lapd threatens chaos in Los Angeles. An African American cop, said to be the series' central character, investigates the murders of two racist cops whose deaths provoked the illegal Lapd strike - and whose murders he himself may be linked to. "We are thrilled to partner with such an incredibly innovative and creative film visionary such as Kurt Wimmer," said Sharon Levy, Executive...

...
See full article at Indiewire Television »

‘Bessie’ Director Dee Rees on Bessie Smith’s Ferocity and Facing Prejudice

‘Bessie’ Director Dee Rees on Bessie Smith’s Ferocity and Facing Prejudice
Queen Latifah delivers a fierce performance in “Bessie,” the upcoming HBO biopic about blues legend Bessie Smith. The character is prone to sudden outbursts of violence — slapping and smacking and turning over tables — that are startling to see from a woman, even one of such physical stature, and even when they come in self-defense.

There is also a ferocity in the way the camera artfully captures the character’s intimidating, in-your-face aspect that makes it hard to believe that “Bessie,” which premieres May 16 on the premium cabler, is the work of a director with only one previous feature-length narrative film under her belt. But there’s more than a little of Bessie Smith’s determination in writer-director Dee Rees.

Bessie doesn’t go around things; she goes straight through. She’s always coming right at the camera,” Rees explains. “I used a lot of Steadicam to (add) that dynamic movement to the character.
See full article at Variety - TV News »

Michigan State University Opens Exhibition of Poster Art of Art Sims

Exactly a year ago I did a revealing and very informative interview with the pioneering African American graphic designer Art Sims (read Here) whose advertising and marketing agency 1124 has been responsible for cutting edge ad campaigns for many of the most important black and urban themed films and TV productions, such as HBO’s When The Levees Broke, Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X, Mo Better Blues, Love and Basketball, Clockers, and The Color Purple among so many other films. And last month at the Michigan State University in East Lansing Michigan , which is where the Detroit native graduated from, in its museum opened an exhibition of his most famous movie...
See full article at ShadowAndAct »

Watch: Haunting Trailer For Nick Broomfield's Serial Killer Doc 'Tales Of The Grim Sleeper'

HBO has been in the non-fiction game for a long time, supporting everything from the great “Paradise Lost” trilogy to Spike Lee’s searing Hurricane Katrina documentary, “When The Levees Broke.” The cable network’s long and storied tradition continues with Nick Broomfield’s “Tales of the Grim Sleeper,” and the film’s first trailer has arrived online. Running just under a minute, the trailer quickly sets up the launching pad for the documentary: for over two decades, a serial killer has haunted South Central La, preying on African-American women as the city’s police force turned a blind eye. What follows is an often frustrating look at how a neighborhood can be ravaged over time. We caught the film at Telluride and were mightily impressed by Broomfield’s latest. “Tales of the Grim Sleeper” ends a small awards-qualifying run in Los Angeles tonight at the Laemmle Playhouse 7, and
See full article at The Playlist »

Amazon Launches HBO Series Today

The first wave of HBO content has landed on Amazon Prime. Subscribers can now stream dozens of HBO titles including The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Rome, Six Feet Under, Eastbound & Down, Enlightened, Flight Of The Conchords, and others. The content is available via an exclusive licensing agreement that HBO and Amazon negotiated last month. Under the multi-year pact, more content will be added in the future, including new seasons of current series as well as early seasons of other current shows such as Girls, The Newsroom and Veep. Other offerings include miniseries such as Band Of Brothers, The Pacific and John Adams, original movies Mary And Martha, Temple Grandin and You Don’t Know Jack, comedy specials from Louis Ck, Ellen DeGeneres, Lewis Black and Bill Maher and documentaries such as When The Levees Broke, Ghosts Of Abu Ghraib and the Autopsy and Iceman series.
See full article at Deadline TV »

HBO, Amazon Prime team up to stream 'The Sopranos,' 'The Wire' & more

  • Hitfix
For cord-cutters who aim to watch the best of television without a cable box (or, in some cases, even a television), HBO has long been the big missing piece of the puzzle. HBO has its own streaming video service, HBO Go, but you can only access it if you already have a cable subscription (or if you have a friend or relative with a subscription who will share their password with you). Cord-cutters ask all the time about the possibility of HBO Go being offered independently, but it would completely undermine HBO's very lucrative business model to do so, and it hasn't happened yet, and likely won't anytime soon. But today in a very big deal for the future of streaming TV — and for the ongoing war for streaming supremacy between Netflix and Amazon (a rare battlefield where Amazon is an underdog) — HBO and Amazon announced an agreement to,
See full article at Hitfix »

HBO makes huge Amazon Prime deal: See which shows are going online

HBO makes huge Amazon Prime deal: See which shows are going online
Big news for HBO fans: You can now watch many shows from the pay cable service without actually paying for cable, or buying the DVDs (or pirating the shows).

HBO has made a major deal with Amazon that gives Amazon Prime members unlimited streaming access to past seasons of shows like The Sopranos and Deadwood, as well as select seasons of current series such as True Blood and Boardwalk Empire. (See the full list below.) This is HBO’s first deal licensing its content to a streaming service. On average, the deal covers content that is at least three years old.
See full article at EW.com - Inside TV »

Interview: S & A's Sergio Talks To Film Marketing Pioneer Art Sims Of 1124 Design

It is literally impossible to not have seen the work of Art Sims - the founder of 1124 Design - in the last 25 years if you just even occasionally go to the movies. The Southern California-based advertising and marketing agency has been responsible for cutting edge ad campaigns for many of the most important black and urban themed films and TV productions, such as Red Tails, HBO’s When The Levees Broke, Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X, Mo Better Blues, Love and Basketball, Clockers, and The Color Purple. And Sims and his firm also provided creative presentations for many black and mainstream films, such as Unstoppable, Inside Man, I Am Legend, The Best Man...
See full article at ShadowAndAct »

Spike Lee Signs With ICM Partners

Breaking: Spike Lee, one of the stalwarts of New York filmmakers who helped put modern indie filmmaking on the map, has signed with ICM Partners. The move comes less than two weeks after his agent Billy Hawkins exited CAA, and ICM has just made the signing known to staffers. The agency jump comes 25 years after the release of Do The Right Thing, the Lee “joint” that landed Oscar nominations for Original Screenplay and put the helmer on the path to such vital films as Jungle Fever, Mo’ Better Blues and Malcolm X, which drew two more Oscar nominations. The move marks a return to the ICM fold, his home before moving to CAA. Lee is as busy as ever now, and is in postproduction on Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus, a vampire pic for which he raised money via Kickstarter. His fundraising efforts on the site drew almost $1.3 million — and
See full article at Deadline TV »

Spike Lee Signs With ICM Partners

  • Deadline
Spike Lee Signs With ICM Partners
Breaking: Spike Lee, one of the stalwarts of New York filmmakers who helped put modern indie filmmaking on the map, has signed with ICM Partners. The move comes less than two weeks after his agent Billy Hawkins exited CAA, and ICM has just made the signing known to staffers. The agency jump comes 25 years after the release of Do The Right Thing, the Lee “joint” that landed Oscar nominations for Original Screenplay and put the helmer on the path to such vital films as Jungle Fever, Mo’ Better Blues and Malcolm X, which drew two more Oscar nominations. The move marks a return to the ICM fold, his home before moving to CAA. Lee is as busy as ever now, and is in postproduction on Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus, a vampire pic for which he raised money via Kickstarter. His fundraising efforts on the site drew almost $1.3 million — and
See full article at Deadline »

Film Review: ‘The Great Flood’

Film Review: ‘The Great Flood’
The Great Flood,” the latest documentary from found-footage impresario Bill Morrison, revisits the catastrophic 1927 event that inundated an area of some 27,000 miles along the Mississippi. Morrison incorporates nitrate deterioration into his work’s very structure, so that the washed-out, shimmery grayness of the floodlands seems to penetrate the film stock itself. The water imagery, with its sinuous flow, casual surrealism and dreamlike, ominous quality, underscored by jazz guitarist Bill Frisell’s bluesy, elegiac score, slowly reveals a racial divide eerily similar to the one informing Spike Lee’s magisterial Katrina doc “When the Levees Broke.” An art piece, a sociopolitical document and a musical meditation, “Flood” should strike chords with niche audiences.

For much of the film, newsreel cameras capture the flood’s devastation. In some places, only the tops of trees visibly break the gleaming gray expanse of the water. In other places, partially submerged businesses still function just above the waterline.
See full article at Variety - Film News »
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