Thursday, March 31, 2011

James Brown Biopic In The Greenlight - CAST WHO?

I feel really good about a biopic about the quite legendary "Godfather of Soul," James Brown. As the most popular sampled recording artist in music - largely due to hip hop, James Brown has to be relevant to music, pop culture, Black culture and indeed worthy of the silver screen treatment. Afterall James Brown was one of the first to declare, "I am Black and I'm proud." Enough for me!

James Brown’s daughter, Dr. Yamma Brown says, "the project is in limbo right now." A few years ago auteur filmmaker, Spike Lee, was attached to direct with uber-producer, Brian Grazer overseeing the project. Nice mix.

As for casting, an unknown is essential, although there has been talk of Eddie Murphy, Chris Brown and Usher. Murphy is too familiar with his Saturday Night Live Celebrity Hot Tub skit. Usher, well he is no actor. And Chris Brown - strikethrough his name immediately. Thus we have a clean slate.

This is the ideal and perfect place to begin. James Brown's life is so rich of possibilities and crosses so many hurdles in American society. This young gospel singer from the American south raises to be one of our most iconic and influential figures in secular music. He worked hard and died filthy rich.

Looking forward to this one.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mad Men Gets Season 5 Greenlight & Drama Ensues

It looks as if negotiations between Mad Men creator/executive producer Matt Weiner and AMC and Lionsgate Television will greenlight a fifth season of the cable network's signature program just in time for AMC's upfront meetings with advertisers in April.

With the deal worth $30 million, Weiner is poised to become the highest-paid showrunner on basic cable. However Weiner is objecting to three things AMC/Lionsgate are asking for: (1) integrating product placement into the series; (2) cutting 2 minutes from each episode's running time in favor of more commercials, and; (3) eliminating or reducing two regular cast members to save money. Weiner is resisting all of the above. “This is their storied franchise, and they want it shorter and cheaper, with fewer actors and more product integration,” noted an insider.

Greenlight is ecstatic to note: there is someone in hollywood with integrity and true grit. Someone willing to fight for his vision and staff. What is AMC/Liongate thinking? Mad Men is the only show AMC has that makes the channel remotely relevant. It is also to be noted, AMC had no input into the creation of its biggest program and franchise. However, it was very smart of the cable channel to pick up Mad Men after every other network passed on the intelligent, adult and entertaining programming.

But in the end - and like always - the suits come in with cost-cutting measures that benefit their own bottom-lines while destroying the program that put the designer suit on their uncreative money grubbing backs.

Cancel the same old tiresome hollywood suits story and get these Mad Men on.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Getting All Digital on Me

Netflix recently signed a deal to bring new movies and TV titles to subscribers, including

exclusive TV program and first-run films to Canadian subscribers. Miramax reshuffles its corporate line-up with a new Head of Domestic Television & Digital Sales. Warner Brothers adds Inception and Harry Potter movies to Facebook digital rentals. Earlier this month WB tested the digital rental market with The Dark Knight. Business must be good.

Digital movie watching is here to stay. People choose and are forced to live very busy lives and the flexibility of streaming a film on your cellphone, Ipod, Ipad, PC, laptop or car player is the way we all will be going soon like it or not. The mega cinemaplex is slowly finding it fate amongst the dinosaurs and that wonderful piece of Americana called the Drive-In theater.

The future of cinema and film is in streaming and digital movie watching, an particular with independent companies like Flickeria bringing cool, fresh, innovative movies to the marketplace bypassing all of typical, stereotypes, mundane rebooted offerings of Hollywood systematics.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mildred Pierce - The Original

As HBO's mini-series of the same title begins to air, it's only appropriate to recognize the original 1945 Warner Brothers Studio classic Mildred Pierce, starring one of Hollywood's all time greats, Miss Joan Crawford. Mildred Pierce brought Crawford her only Oscar, resuscitated her career, solidified her as an actress and legend of Hollywood's Golden Age.

Mildred Pierce is about so many things. The endless American desire to possess things. The human quest to achieve. The need to survive. The want of living the good life. The challenges of parenting. The complexities of social class. And how greed is so deeply rooted and intertwined within.

Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford) is a strong willed housewife who leaves her husband after his infidelity finding herself without a real career with two young children to provide for, including an avaricious teenager daughter, Veda played brilliantly evil by Ann Blyth. Mildred goes on to become a very successful, rich and hardworking restauranteur providing her Veda with all she can, but this is never good enough for Veda and others.

Although Mildred builds a successful business, she would never have the pedigree that Americans are also seemingly obsessed with, although the nation fought to separate itself from the monarchy and ideals of European aristocracy. This bring me to the wardrobe, a sort of glamorous coats and armor that wealth can provide even without the heritage. The furs, the hats, the clutches, the heels, the sartorial women's suitings, dazzling gowns and slinky dresses are mere draping.

In the end, we learn being a good stern mother is a very challenging position, especially for a single woman in black & white or color no matter what the income bracket and Mildred Pierce crossed all American classes and dreams.

See the original - Mildred Pierce.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Another Lackluster Weekend at the Movies

This is perfect first spring weekend to peruse your local City Paper, Weekend Guide, entertainment blogs, art museum websites or local independent movie theaters to go off the beaten movie path in search of quality entertainment as Hollywood as given no option - but to.

Remember there is always streaming online - as practically every household has a near theater quality flatscreen. STREAMING SITES TO CHECKOUT:

Get it on like popcorn!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor - Mold Broken

What becomes a legend most? She was born Elizabeth Rosemont Taylor on February 27, 1932 to American parents living in England. However the world would come to adore this violet eyed Hollywood beauty, two (2) time Oscar winner, original celebrity, multi-wed and humanitarian as Liz Taylor.

Liz Taylor started out in Tinseltown as a child actor and easily transitioned into a formidable star possessing the acting skill, beauty, charisma and all around celebrity talent to solidify her place, not only, in Hollywood but American culture.

On her passing March 23, 2011, Miss Taylor, who definitely lived life to the absolute fullest and changed the world she left behind in so many wonderful ways making it better, than she found it, for us all.

I could say so much about this great silver screen star of Hollywood's Golden Age; however, I want to say thanks for being a friend and ally - even thou we never met.

Another great one - gone. The mold is shattered.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Celebrates Film

Greenlight is excited to announce and share MoMA's upcoming film series. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has always been a pleasant film retreat throughout the year with its diverse and eclectic film programming. Here are two (2) wonderful MoMA film offerings:

Charles Burnett: The Power to Endure
April 6–25, 2011
Charles Burnett has long borne the dubious distinction of being, as critic Armond White observed, “the least well-known great American filmmaker.” In Charles Burnett: Interviews (University Press of Mississippi, 2011), Burnett cites the phrase “the power to endure” as a motif his films share with William Faulkner’s novels; the phrase applies equally well to the indomitable characters who inhabit Burnett’s cinema, and to Burnett’s own struggle to get his films made in accordance with his vision.

Each of Burnett’s films can be seen to chronicle some aspect of the black experience in America, offering black and white audiences alike a moving representation and triumphant appreciation of African American culture, with a strong emphasis on both the rewards and burdens of family. It should be evident from the films presented in this retrospective that Burnett is a talent deserving of a much larger audience.

Filmmaker in Focus: Euzhan Palcy
May 18–30, 2011
Euzhan Palcy (b. Martinique, 1958), who in 1989 became the first black woman director to have her work produced by a major Hollywood studio (with MGM’s A Dry White Season), explores themes of race, gender, and politics from a decidedly feminist perspective.

This first U.S. retrospective of Palcy’s work includes a newly restored print of her Rue Cases-Nègres (Sugar Cane Alley), which won a Silver Lion award at the 1983 Venice Film Festival, along with the New York premieres of Les Mariées de I’isles Bourbon (2007), an historical epic about forced marriage in 17th-century France; Parcours de Dissident (2006), about the forgotten history of West Indian patriots during World War II; Siméon (1992), a musical comedy fairytale set in the Caribbean; and the biographical documentary Aime Cesaire, A Voice for History (1994).

The series also features Ms. Palcy's Oscar nominated A Dry White Season (1989) starring Marlon Brando. Miss Palcy and special guests will introduce a number of programs in the series.

Mark Your Calendar Now. This film series is not to be missed. See you at MoMA.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New On DVD - Skin

Skin is a fictionalized retelling of the true and terrible story of Sandra Laing (Sophie Okonedo), a South African woman whose race was classified and reclassified by the government during apartheid. Born in 1955 to officially white parents, Sandra was judged and legally assigned white. However, when young Sandra entered the larger world, her darker skin, and especially her tightly curled black hair, marked her. At 10, she was dragged out of school by the police because the principal had decided she wasn’t white. The government agreed and relabeled her “colored.” And thus begins Sandra Laing's entre into humanity and reality.

After seeing Skin, I felt a great opportunity to really see the true affects of apartheid was missed in this most unique of situations where a "white" couple gives birth to a "black" child. However, after reading many comments on Skin from South Africans, now living outside of South Africa, who all share that director Anthony Fabian captures this period of apartheid in South Africa masterfully and took them back, I was conflicted.

Having never been to South Africa, it is the filmmaker's obligation to transport the audience to a time and place - particularly if one has never been to said place and with non-fictional material and events like the very life events of Sandra Laing. Ironically, I always felt like I was watching a movie.

Nevertheless, Skin is a powerful film, due to knowing that all of this happened only a few years ago.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up: Indie Boxoffice

Great news to report as last weekends indie film box office receipts proved to be stellar for Richard Press’s Bill Cunningham New York and Tom McCarthy’s Win Win both averaging over $30,000 as Hollywood's LCD (least common denominator) films are flat and stagnant as a fresh idea or plot development meeting at The Ivy.

Bill Cunningham debuted at New York’s Film Forum with a one day gross of $8,535, breaking the theater’s opening day record previously held by Control Room. Bill continued to do fantastic sales over the weekend, taking in $33,744, bringing its five day total to $49,103. Bill is a look through the camera lens of 80 year old New York Times photographer, Bill Cunningham, who has been bicycling around New York City for 40 years documenting fashion trends on the street by day and capturing New York’s social scene at night.

Tom McCarthy’s Win Win is another weekend big winner. According to estimates, the high school wrestling dramedy, which stars Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan Bobby Cannavale, grossed $153,615 from 5 theaters in New York and Los Angeles. That made for a $30,723 per-theater-average, topping the debuts of both of McCarthy’s other films - 2008’s The Visitor and 2003’s The Station Agent. Win Win will open 6 new markets March 25th adding 18 theaters.

Also debuting this weekend was National Geographic’s release of Sherry Horman’s Desert Flower, which took in $8,039 from 3 screens, averaging just $2,680. Desert Flower is the true story of model Waris Dirie and unfolds Waris's journey from Somalia, to London, to the heights of the international fashion scene. Desert Flower is on my "Greenlight Must See List."

Support the indies!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

New On DVD - The Fighter

Set in the Lovell, Massachusetts, The Fighter is a look at the early years of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his brother and former boxer Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s.

The Fighter is a rather conventional film about yet another real life tale of securing your own dreams within the American dream. Having said this, for me The Fighter is all about his mother's Alice Ward (Melissa Leo) fashions.

While Christian Bale is one of the best actors around today and Mark Wahlberg is just an all around like-able guy and quite capable actor, for me, neither were no match for their mother's coiffed fried blond tresses, denim mini skirts, navy blue plaid scoop neck 3/4 sleeve stretch tops, cropped floral print jean jackets, white leather ankle booties and occasional power shouldered suits. Her wardrobe was in tip-top shape. She just wore them down scene after scene.

See The Fighter for the expert camera work and fine acting. But you will live for the fashions. A real winner. Inspiring!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Casting Notice. . .Unk Wanted for Tupac Biopic

Director Antoine Fuqua and Morgan Creek Productions have decided to cast an unknown in the upcoming film version of legendary rapper, poet and actor Tupac Shakur.

This is great news not only for a great actor the world will soon meet. It is also refreshing to see Hollywood doing its job. Producers, writers, agents and directors are supposed to "discover" new talent.

There is more information at:

Break a leg!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Radiant Child - All About Jean-Michel Basquiat

"It is Basquiat's own words and work that powerfully convey the mystique and allure of both the artist and the man," from the Sundance Film Festival.

Friend of Jean-Michel Basquiat and director Tamra Davis presents The Radiant Child, a definitive documentary delving into Basquiat as an iconoclast.

There is so much to say about Basquiat, the man, the artist -- his dense, bebop-influenced neoexpressionist work emerged in the dynamic 1980s downtown New York pop art scene. Today Basquiat's creations sell for millions of dollars and is in the collection of every major art institution on the globe and many private collections as well. However, Basquiat's success was not without peril. At that time - and still today - many artists, as Basquiat was, are constantly confronted by elitism, classism, racism, misconceptions and sheer ignorance.

Watch Jean-Michel for yourself and learn most everything he faced and addresses in The Radiant Child is alive today only massaged by importing our hip hop artists from Canada {Drake}, our Soul chanteuses from England {Adele} and our artists from scions.

Jean-Michel Basquiat arrived onto the art scene with passion, drive, history and vision. See The Radiant Child.

Where have our geniuses gone? SNEAK PEAK:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nowhere Boy - John Lennon

Who knew there was so much drama in John Lennon's formative years? Admittedly I am not a big Beattles fan; however, I do admire John Lennon's quest for identity, drive for creative expression and commitment to peace.

Nowhere Boy is a chronicle of John Lennon's early years, focused mainly in his adolescence, his relationship with his aunt Mimi, who raised him, and the perils of his absentee mother Julia. A very attractive and exuberant Aaron Johnson stars as young Lennon and the always engaging Kristin Scott Thomas portrays John's stern Aunt Mimi.

Solid film with historical and pop culture references. The Nowhere Boy who went everywhere.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In Limited Release - I Will Follow

The much promoted indie film I Will Follow from filmmaker Ava DuVernay, opened last weekend with impressive stats: $11,428 per screen average from just 5 screens, making it a very successful weekend.

This weekend I Will Follow will expand to 22 screens in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, Oakland, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Charlotte and Jersey City. Be proactive and pre-ticket yourself.">
"One of the best films I’ve seen about the loss of a loved one,” is what legendary film critic Roger Ebert chimed in on the media blitzed I Will Follow. An official selection of AFI Fest, Chicago International Film Festival, Urbanworld, Pan-African and Bronze Lens Film Festivals, I Will Follow stars Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Omari Hardwick, Michole White and Dijon Talton, with Blair Underwood and Beverly Todd.

Get I Will Follow on your weekend calendar asap.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

On DVD -- Sugar

How did I miss this one - Sugar? Sugar is really good film. Undoubtedly one of the best movies I have seen in very long time. How do you describe a sports film as elegant? Sugar is.

Sugar is the story of a young kid, Miguel "Sugar" Santos (Algenis Peres Soto), from the Dominican Republic who is recruited into the minor baseball league in America. Upon Sugar's arrival, were he encounters language barriers as well as sports injuries, racism and other Americanisms; however, Sugar keeps sight of his humanity in the face of potential cash earnings and celebrity status.
">This is not your father's baseball movie, rather Sugar is a wise look into what sport - and in many ways what the American dream - has become. For boys and girls around the globe, their athletic ability is no longer just a skill but a marketing tool for access into the American celebrity machine and the financial rewards of the dream.

Although Sugar veers clear of this tragedy in its plot and storyline, it is all the more evident due to its omission. This movie should have been a break-out blockbuster. It has everything except name brands and big celebrities. Sugar was written and directed by the talented filmmaking team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck who brought Half Nelson to the big screen with much fanfare and acclaim, including an Oscar nomination for leading man Ryan Gosling.

I loved it! Queue up your Netflix! See Sugar now.