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Movie News and Film Reviews

'Django' Criticisms Are Predictable, Misguided

By Jazmyne Z. Young

In a way, I'd been looking forward to seeing Quentin Tarantino's new movie, "Django Unchained," before I'd ever even heard of it, since the moment I drove away from the theater so thoroughly entertained by his previous film, the revenge-full "Inglourious Basterds." (If you aren't familiar with that film, but did see "Django Unchained," you've done yourself a great injustice.)

"Inglourious Basterds" -- now there's a movie where the director took liberties with historical accuracy and was still able to tell a damn good story, all while keeping the spirit of the era (World War II) intact. At the time I'd thought to myself, "Wow, I'm not even Jewish and I still felt a sense of satisfaction when the Nazi's head got bashed in with a baseball bat… I wish there was a movie like that for Black people!"

I don't imagine the public reactions to the violence in "Django" will be much different from that of "Kill Bill" – certain women's groups attacked the film for its scenes of brutality against the lead character, a woman -- or any other number of Tarantino movies. And certainly there were Jewish people who felt that the director's disregard for historical accuracy in "Basterds" amounted to nothing less than blasphemy.

Speaking of historical accuracy, I can't help but compare "Django Unchained" to another movie circulating theaters right now, Seteven Spielberg's "Lincoln." If the historical inaccuracy of Django upsets you, the perceived truths in Spielberg's latest film concern me just the same. At least Quentin Tarantino didn't run from the uncomfortable, brutal, savage nature of American slavery, whereas Steven Spielberg turned it into a matter of rhetoric and policy. All things considered, with awards season approaching in Hollywood, I'd rather spend my money to boost the ticket sales of a film like "Django" than "Lincoln."

Still, it's only natural that all Black people will not receive "Django Unchained" with open arms. It doesn't help that our most highly respected filmmaker has publicly boycotted the movie, saying it is disrespectful to his ancestors.

Ironic, because Spike Lee is actually the reason why I became a fan of Quentin Tarantino's work in the first place. (Remember Tarantino's cameo appearance in the Lee film, "Girl 6?") My read of Lee's disdain for "Django" is that it has less to do with the film itself – after all, he refuses to see it -- and more about his own current position in Hollywood, considering that (1) people aren't seeing his movies like they used to (Who do you know that saw "Red Hook Summer" or "Miracle at St. Ana?") and (2) if Spike Lee were to try to make a film like "Django," it would never get the same financial backing and support from Hollywood that Tarantino enjoyed, let alone a nationwide release on Christmas Day. Not even with Barack Obama in office do I think that would ever happen.

MARLEY Documentary Premiere in U.S. Theaters April 20th, 2012


The Third World's first superstar and arguably the most recognizable human being on the planet, reggae giant BOB MARLEY is celebrated this year in a film by Academy Award-winning director Kevin Macdonald ("One Day In September," "State Of Play," "The Last King Of Scotland," "Touching The Void" and "Life In A Day").

MARLEY, which received a rapturous reception at its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival on Feb 12, will open in U.S. theaters on April 20, 2012, with all VOD and digital platforms, through Wagner/Cuban Company's Magnolia Pictures. Produced by Steve Bing (Shangri-La Entertainment) and Charles Steel (Cowboy Films), and executive produced by Bob's son Ziggy Marley and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, the film features stunning live performances, intimate interviews with friends and family, and rare documentary footage -- all of which tells the definitive story of the superstar who rose from the ghetto to become one of the greats of popular music before dying tragically young at the height of his fame.

To this day, BOB MARLEY remains one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century. Accolades include a GRAMMY® Lifetime Achievement Award (2001), multiple entries in the GRAMMY® Hall Of Fame, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1994), and the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2001). His lifestyle and music continues to inspire new generations as his legacy lives on with his catalog selling over 50 million albums worldwide since 1992 alone... read more

FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012

The Three Stooges
by Nell Minow

I believe it was the great philosopher Curly Joe who first said that you cannot step in the same stream twice. And perhaps it was Shemp who said that you can't go home again. Okay, that was the great ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus and the early 20th century American author Thomas Wolfe, but even the least-loved late-era members of the of the literally knuckle-headed 1930′s-1950′s comedy trio The Three Stooges would know that whatever appeal they had could never be re-created. Big time fans the Farrelly brothers came closer to the spirit of their slapstick idols with films like "There's Something About Mary," "Shallow Hal," and "Stuck on You" than in this dead mackerel of an attempt to recreate a Moe, Larry, and Curly for the 21st century. Stars Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe), Sean Hayes (Larry), and Chris Sasso (Curly) have clearly studied the moves of the head-bonking, eye-poking Stooges, but they have no chemistry, poor pacing, an unsteady sense of the Stooges' appeal, and 80 years of history separating us from the Stooges' setting.

The original Stooges, Moe and "Curly" Howard and Larry Fine, had years of knockabout experience in vaudeville to perfect their interactions and develop an understanding of their audience. They are funny in the context of their time in their constant efforts to join the middle class and their constant creation of chaos wherever they go. But in this film, they lazily borrow the premise of "The Blues Brothers" (they have to raise money to keep the orphanage that has been their home since they were abandoned there as infants decades ago) and become entangled in a murder plot and "Jersey Shore." Is this funny? Soitenly not.

MARCH, 2012

Intro to “The Hunger Games”
by Nell Minow

hunger games This week’s release of “The Hunger Games” is the most anticipated film of the spring and likely to be the biggest hit since the “Twilight” series. It is based on the first of a wildly successful trilogy of books by Suzanne Collins. For those who have not read the books, here is a brief introduction:

When and where does it take place? It takes place in the future when North America has become a totalitarian country called Panem following an apocalyptic catastrophe. Panem has a capitol city and thirteen numbered districts, each with its own specialty (lumber, mining, agriculture, textile, grains, etc.).

Who are the lead characters? The book’s story is told by Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old who lives in the poor, coal-mining District 12 with her mother and younger sister, Prim. They are very poor and ever since her father died, Katniss has been responsible for taking care of the family. She is brave and loyal and a very skilled archer, hunter, and trapper, and uses those skills to find food for her family. She is played in the film by Jennifer Lawrence... Read more