Movie Trailer of the Week: “Straight Outta Compton” (NWA Biography)

My prayers have been answered. This trailer looks sick and I can only foresee this movie being the legitimate hit that I hoped it would be.

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The Most Leaks I’ve Seen This Week Have Been From Sony….

I sat on the train this morning reading about the latest Sony Pictures leak (emails between super-producer Scott Rudin and co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Amy Pascal) as though I were watching an episode of “Young & The Restless”. I could not take my eyes off of the poor spelling and jabs at actors like Adam Driver and Michael Fassbender (as an above-the-line employee in Hollywood, how in the WORLD do you not know who Michael Fassbender is?!?).

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To think that these arguments were reams of emails, and very few phone calls were made in the interim, highlighted one major fact to me- Hollywood is just like “us” (except they receive bigger paychecks). Like worker bees of the USPS, UPS, your local strip mall, or Walmart, Hollywood executives and creatives bicker, get fired, have brilliant ideas only to be squashed by their boss(es) or swindled by their colleagues for a higher bargaining price. Deals are made and broken, tempers flared, and names (and reputations) ruined. Yes, even Angelina Jolie was called a “minimally talented spoiled brat” throughout this whole debacle. The shade in these missives are REAL. “Entourage” is REAL.

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Whoever has hacked into the Sony database is on a mission to destroy, because the Rudin vs. Pascal fight is the latest to have been brought to light on websites such as Defamer and Vulture. Not only do we know that Aaron Sorkin has never seen , but that Kevin Hart is apparently a “greedy whore“, Natalie Portman’s alias is “Lauren Brown“, and Adam Sandler films suck.

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What’s even more jacked up is that Sony executives are just as unhappy with the films they are producing as the general audience is with Hollywood movies as a whole. There’s a reason that television remains in an extended Golden Age state, because the serial storytelling of “Orange is the New Black” and “Sons of Anarchy” appear to be more satisfying than a 1 1/2 to 2 hour movie. People will go to the theaters in droves for adaptations of their favorite books, or event films, such as “Interstellar”, though.

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To think that this all started with James Franco/Seth Rogan vehicle, “The Interview“…. If you want to know how a good majority of Hollywood works, read these emails. There are many lessons to be learned here while the Internet/digital entertainment revolution continues to move along.

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Steve McQueen and Lupita Nyong’o Continue To Kill It

Photo Credits: Cineralia/ThandieKay.com

Both director Steve McQueen and Lupita Nyong’o were working hard at their respective artistic crafts before 12 Years A Slave, but now they have the mainstream clout and power to create and be a part of passion projects. Earlier this week, it was announced that McQueen’s next film will be about none other than Paul Robeson!

Paul Robeson was a true renaissance man who slayed at everything he set his mind to achieve. An actor, opera singer, activist, All-American football player, and scholar of law at Columbia Law School, Robeson was involved in both the Harlem Renaissance and Civil Rights movements. He was also investigated during the McCarthy era, accused of being a communist. He retired and passed away in my hometown of Philadelphia.

The first and only film that I ever saw Robeson star in was Oscar Micheaux’s black and white film, “Body and Soul“. This movie debuted Robeson in his first starring role on screen, at the age of 27. If you have never seen “Body and Soul” and ever get the chance to, I suggest that you take the opportunity!. It introduced me to the genius of both Micheaux and Robeson’s work in film and as an artist and film buff, it continues to inform my way of thinking about the art of directing, the business of church, and African-American identity.

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A Paul Robeson biopic helmed by Steve McQueen will be nothing short of extraordinary, especially as THE Harry Belafonte will have a part in making this film happen. What that part will entail of is unknown for the time being.

 

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McQueen has also been tapped to direct a heist thriller movie based from a 1980s British TV miniseries titled “Widows“, which you can watch on YouTube (from what I’ve seen so far, this may be another new British television obsession for me!)

Let’s not forget that McQueen is also working on his first television show to hit the States, “Codes of Conduct“, about a young Black man entering high society in New York. I. Can’t. Wait.

As for Ms. Nyong’o, she has the next Star Wars movie on her plate, as well as being the new face of Lancome Cosmetics.

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However, did you know that she has just scored another new film role in Mira Nair’s upcoming movie adaptation, “Queen of Katwe“? The film will be based on the real life of Ugandan chess prodigy, Phiona Mutesi. I am certain that Nyong’o will shine in her portrayal of Mutesi and maybe it could gain her another Oscar nomination….or award!

 

McQueen and Nyong’o….keep working, informing, and inspiring. I salute you!

So… About That Aaliyah Lifetime Movie…

*sigh* akjdhasldhaldkjhadksjhdlaskjhdskjhKJHSFKJHDSFKJHS….

There is nothing more that I can say that hasn’t already been said or meme’d in the media about Lifetime’s recent “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B” Lifetime movie. Let me just make one thing clear that you may not know about me: I love Lifetime movies. There is no other television channel in America that produces stories about kidnapping, eating disorders, domestic abuse, incest, and any other human foible that women can rise above like the Lifetime Network, and they own it. If I’m sick in bed or just plain in the mood, I can hop on YouTube and re-watch classics such as “Girl Fight”, “To Be Fat Like Me”, “Fifteen and Pregnant”, “She’s Too Young”, or “A Friend’s Betrayal” and revel in heightened states of emotion. The level of cheese could skyrocket into space, but that won’t stop me from viewing. Lifetime knows their niche and caters to that denominator very well.

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Riding high from the recent success of the “Flowers in the Attic” series, it seemed as though maybe, just maybe, they could do no wrong by Aaliyah’s legacy. Even with Zendaya dropping out of the lead role and Aaliyah’s family wanting nothing to do with the production, there was still a chance of this movie at least being OK. Just make sure your casting is on point, because without having the rights to Aaliyah’s recordings or personal photos and media footage, the casting is 100% make or break territory in the case of this production, along with copious amounts of research, and spot-on costume and set design.

But no, not even Missy Elliot famous finger waves made an appearance. I remember the era of Blackground Records very fondly. Hell, I remember being a wee little thing writing lines of poetry in the basement with Aaliyah’s music videos playing in the background. Aaliyah, Blackstreet, Ginuwine, Timbaland & Magoo, Missy Elliot, R. Kelly….they dominated the airwaves during a very memorable time in my childhood. Aaliyah was an artist that I looked up to and admired because she was both sexy and classy. She had personality without being vulgar. She was sweet and ambitious. She was funny, strong, and business savvy. When Aaliyah died, other friends of mine who were also fans mourned. It was the first time that I can remember truly mourning the death of a pop star. There was just something about her that was special, and if given more time, would have been a megastar. She was just getting started around the time of her passing.

Having said that, I more than understand why people are stark raving mad about the portrayal of her life’s story on Lifetime. It appeared rushed and disingenuous. Alexandra Shipp, who played Aaliyah in the TV movie, did a wonderful job. Yet even watching her rendition of Aaliyah performing “Journey to the Past”, something was missing. The magic of the original performance, for me, was not 100% there:

 

As for the casting of Missy, Timbaland, R. Kelly, and Damon Dash? I’ll let these pictures speak for themselves. You be the judge, jury, and/or executioners:

 

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Fictional Missy Elliot vs. Real Missy Elliot

 

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Real Timbaland vs. Fictional Timbaland

 

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Fictional Damon Dash & Aaliyah   

 

Real Aaliyah & Damon Dash

Real Aaliyah (RIP) & Damon Dash

 

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Real R. Kelly & Aaliyah

 

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Fictional R. Kelly & Aaliyah

I would have loved to see the fictional Ginuwine and for the movie to go deeper into how iconic the fashion was then. Aaliyah’s rise to stardom was glossed over and instead the viewing audience was whisked into the R.Kelly & Aaliyah story about ten minutes into the movie, which would have been fine if this subplot went deeper. After all, she was a teenager and he was a grown man twice her age in an illegal relationship. One hour and a half of this and then thirty minutes of the Aaliyah and Damon Dash story, with two short paragraphs about how Aaliyah died and will be missed. No real life footage of her casket being carried on the Upper East Side streets of New York in a horse drawn carriage. No fictional portrayal of “More Than A Woman”, both the song and music video, “Rock the Boat”, her experiences acting in “Romeo Must Die” and “Queen of the Damned”…

I just hope that another movie based on the life of Aaliyah will come to pass on the big screen. One that the fans can appreciate and not make #LifetimeBeLike memes out of. Leaving such an unforgettable mark in music history at a young age, Aaliyah, her family, and her legacy deserve that much, not for clicks, rating, or money, but to share a human story of triumph, adversity, ambition, and God-given talents.

 

Rest in Peace Aaliyah

 

This Movie, Its Director, This Picture Screams OSCAR

I look at Jack O’Connell in this photo and my heart swells. I’ve watched him go from Cook in “Skins” to now starring in an Angelina Jolie directed film, which looks and sounds spectacular, judging from its several trailers. If he scores an Oscar nom for his performance in this movie, I will be immensely proud. I don’t have to personally know him to feel this way. He reps for the underdogs and I’m down for his journey and continuous success 100%.

In fact, let me raise a toast to EVERYONE in this picture, because I remember Garrett Hedlund in “Death Sentence” with a shaved head giving a scary performance that was so realistic and powerful still to this day to think about. I’m quietly tracking how hard Jai Courtney is working, booking roles alongside Bruce Willis and Rosamund Pike. I see all of you choosing interesting roles, not all commercial, making smart choices and working. As a human being and actor, I say keep going forward and killin’ it, but try not to leave too many casualties in your wake.

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  Photo Credit: Jason Bell for Vanity Fair Magazine

Video of the Day- “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B” Official Lifetime Movie Trailer

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I have NOTHING against the production of this movie. I remember the day when Aaliyah died and it was truly a day of mourning. I eventually said “LET’S DO THIS!” when Lifetime announced that they would produce a movie about Aaliyah, even when my first instinct was to exclaim that I wished the movie could be seen on the big screen instead. I also was upset when Zendaya dropped out of this movie because I think that her being cast for the role was perfect and would have elevated her career to another level. Now, having viewed the official trailer for “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B”, the only gripe that I have about this film, thus far, is that I wish Zendaya continued on with this project until post-production. *sigh*

 

What do you think about the casting of actress Alexandra Shipp, as Aaliyah, after having watched this? Would you have preferred Zendaya, think that we should lay our final verdicts on the gauntlet after the movie airs, or have your own dream lead actress for the role in mind?

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