It’s a very rare film that serves an all-star cast well.
I can think of lots of recent flops like “New Year’s Eve.”
“The Butler” is an exception, it serves pretty much every one of its stars well. And that cast includes Forest Whitaker, Oprah, David Oyelowo, Lenny Kravitz and John Cusack. Who could have imagined Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, other than Philly’s own Lee Daniels? Yet I am sure she could because Hollywood was her backyard growing up.
Filmmaker Daniels, Cuba Gooding Jr and Yaya Alafia attended the special screening of the film at the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theatre, newly fortified with a brand new digital screen, four times brighter and sharper than HD.
The film’s mostly chronological unfolding focuses on the U.S. Civil Rights movement – taking the viewer to the heights of good times, family and friends to the low lights – racism, family strife and infidelity.
There are ugly scenes like spitting on black patrons sitting in at the lunch counters of the South. This is not an escapist film.
But what you cannot escape is the depth of the performances given by Whitaker, Oprah, Gooding and the rest. Even my girl Mariah Carey pops up in here.
Just be sure to make it a must-see when it opens in the U.S. this Friday Aug. 16. @Oprah and cast talk “The Butler”– http://bit.ly/19nHCIS
As I left, the buzz was Best Picture.
Here is a link to one of my fave Oscar stories.
It’s all about the gowns.
Here is a link to the 50 Best Oscar Dresses as selected by the Hollywood Reporter – http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/gallery/50-best-oscar-dresses-422169#51
I think they blew it a bit because even if folks don’t like Cher’s style sense – she is on my best list because she is MEMORABLE. They threw her in the worst list of course, but for me, you can’t beat a full black headdress: http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2008/fsb/0804/gallery.feathers.fsb/3.html
And here is their gallery of the worst – http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/gallery/worst-oscar-dresses-ever-421781
I commend the judges for the selection of Paltrow’s pink, the cups are not filled dress, as well as the love they gave her on the Best Dressed side when she was Brad Pitt’s arm candy.
And of course there was Jennifer Hudson in that hideous brown. I think that helped her seriously do the Weight Watchers campaign.
And dare I say it? I often question Meryl Streep’s fashion sense, but never her acting.
Deirdre C. Hopkins, Dr. Ahati Toure, Dr. Candice Love Jackson, Dr. Jerry Ward Jr. and actress Tiffany.
Whether Quentin Tarantino’s film, Django Unchained, should be viewed as a realistic or mythological portrayal of slavery in the U.S. dominated a panel discussion Thursday at Delaware State University.
Dr. Jerry Ward, known for his study of the work of Richard Wright, described the film as a very American film, a richly satiric cartoon. He said the filmmaker created a collage to shock the audience, offered moments to glorify in revenge and in some ways added to the romance of slavery.
Dr. Candice Love Jackson described the character of Kerry Washington as Broomhilda von Shaft as connected to the blaxploitation film legend John Shaft andshe looked at the film in the context of Tarantino’s handling of other heroines played by Uma Thurman and Pam Grier in such films as Pulp Fiction.
Several actresses, one on the panel and others in the audience of more than 100 people, debated their conflicts about roles that are offered but fall outside of the acceptable characters that might uplift or improve perceptions of African Americans. I was able to tie this point back to The Help and the difficulties Viola Davis faced first in accepting the role and finally in the Academy of Motion Pictures inability to reward her for that performance.
My presentation focused on the history of film as studied by Tarantino, his focus on spaghetti Westerns, blood, gore and language. The N-word is inescapable in this film. I distributed a quiz on African American film quotes and again, language is part of our relationship to film.
Dr. Marshall Stevenson of Del State set the tone for the discussion along the themes of sex and violence and how they are intertwined with American history. To them, I would add RACE.
This Thursday, the Delaware State University College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences will offer a panel discussion on the controversial film, Django Unchained, by Quentin Tarantino and starring Jamie Foxx.
The event – entitled “Django Unchained: Myths and Realities of Slavery in the Old South” — is free and open to the public at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7 in the Education & Humanities Theatre on campus.
This is a topic that I hope provokes a lot of discussion. As a film editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer for five years, I grew to not only understand why it is so important to support African Americans in cinema, but to embrace opportunities to discuss how our culture is often held to the standard of one speaker, one view – the monolith. This discussion, just before the Oscars, will give us the opportunity to consider how the story is told and by whom.
Join us if you can!
More info: http://www.desu.edu/news/dsu-host-feb-7-panel-discussion-film-django
Tonight at 7, the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, with the Temple Association of Black Journalists present: Monitoring Hollywood IV, “Beyond the Stereotypes: Black Movie Stars and the Oscars.”
Join moderator Annette John-Hall and panelists Deirdre M. Childress of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Mike Dennis of Reelblack, Eugene Haynes of Temple University teaching the course African-Americans in Motion Pictures, and Darla Mitchell-Henning of Hyperdrive.com
The event will be at Temple University, Tuttleman Hall Room 103, 1800 N. 13th St. Refreshments will be served.
Not that the announcement is out of the way, let me say that my love of Hollywood stems from being born there. I watched movies and ran into movie stars from when I was a child going to the grocery store, concerts or sporting events with my parents.
Every year, I would plop down in front of the TV and watch the Oscars. I was unaware of the racial implications of some selections until the year of “The Color Purple,” when Spielberg was ignored, I was pissed.
So come out tonight and talk movies. We all have a story to tell.
Today I did an express video for work.
A quickie on going to the Design Zone at The Franklin Institute, the African American Children’s Book Fest and its 20th anniversary and three DVDs to celebrate Black History Month – Malcolm X, To Kill a Mockingbird’s 50th anniversary and the Oscar-nominated The Help.
Today is one of those days that cinephiles mark on their calendars months in advance.
I love the Oscars and I was fortunate to cover them in person back when I lived in L.A.
Now, I edit other folks copy on them, but I am having a lot of fun today.
I want to give a shout out to a local crew for “Hell and Back,” nominated as a documentary feature and produced through a crew at Temple University.
Second kudos to Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis and “The Help” because those are three other nominees of color in this year’s Oscars.
And my last hurray goes to Melissa McCarthy and “Bridesmaids”. Thanks Academy for recognizing a comedy that women enjoy!