“For Colored Girls Who have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow isn’t enuf”, The Stage Play is excellently written with powerful poems. Poems that have touched the hearts & minds of women for years. A young woman was so moved by it that she wrote a big screen adaptation for this play. Once it was shown that her adaptation would be faithful to the original it was approved by Ntozake Shange, the creator of the stage pla, then Angela Basset, Alicia Keys and Sanaa Lathan were attached to the film. This young woman/director’s adaptation was so profound that Lionsgate immediately began talking awards mainly Oscars. Now, here is where Nzingha Stewart steps to the side and Tyler Perry smartly comes in.

Tyler Perry has made 10 movies but to many he is still not seen as legitimate. Madea and crew may make you laugh and they may make money, but they wont win the Big award, that trophy of legitimacy. Love Tyler Perry or not, let’s face it Medea is no Mrs. Doubtfire, and Tyler Perry is no Robin Williams. Mr. Perry did what many of us would have done in that situation and he took over the project. He did so with one goal; leave it as it was envisioned by the young director. All he had to do was allow the actors to act, don’t mess it up, and let the award talk begin. This was not ever done for or about your issues, your healing. It was and has always been about the pursuit of legitamcy… the pursuit of The Award. Tyler Perry said himself “I just didn’t want to ruin it. Was he talking about the young directors work, the sentiments of the play, or both? The movie itself is powerfully good, the blending of the poetry with dialogue is often magnificent. This blending of poetry with dialogue is so familiar to me that I am tempted to start my own verse of “Somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff”, if you’ve read my books you’d know what I mean. However, I am sure that other well versed directors will attempt such boldness in the future.

In this situation, I am reminded of the scene from the movie “Friday” where Deebo says “That’s my bike punk!”, this is not about Tyler Perry, his style, or his treatment of issues. Because we need the Tyler Perry’s of the directing world, but we also need the non-Tyler Perry voices to be heard. The issues in “For Colored Girls” are conversations that we need to be having and not just on a blog, or a post, but in our communities. This is also about our young and new artist, who don’t get credit, who get looked over and in many cases do the lions-share of the creative work all in order to pay some imaginary dues.  I can’t say how I would have handled the situation if a new director came along and on their first film there was Oscar talk, and I had done 10 film in with no Oscar. I often hear people say where are the young talented minorites, where are the young fresh idea having directors. We now have the answer to those questions. Frankly, because of the way “For Colored Girls” is written it deserves much Oscar talk. And because of the excellent acting, these ladies deserve to sweep the Oscars. Tyler has succeded in not messing “For Colored Girls” up because the poetry and passion of the original play is much larger than any award a director could ever get their hands on.

December 15, 2010

Oddly “For Colored Girls” was not nominated for a Single Golden Globe Award.

Iron Man 2 is Jon Favreau’s much anticipated follow-up to his 2008 blockbuster. Iron Man 2 recast Robert Downey Jr as the billionaire inventor/superhero. Also reprising her role is Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts. Mickey Rourke stars as villain Ivan Vanko complete with  uber Russian accent and electrified whips. James Rhodes played by Don Cheadle is the military liaison to Mr. Stark, but Cheadle is not very convincing and he comes awkward in the role. Director Favreau should have let Terrence Howard reprise this role, he  was much more believable as Stark’s uncomfortable best friend.  Surprisingly this movie is not about Ivan, or even explosions. This film is less about Iron Man and more about the appeal of Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey is a great actor, so the guess had to be that if Downey was in it the movie the story came second, you could just piece together a story, throw in pieces of conflict, flirt with an obvious love story that never really develops and voila you have a blockbuster. The box office tally will no doubt tell if the guess was right. No one will cringe at the needless use of comedy, no one will bat an eye that the so-called super villain had about 5 minutes of super villain screen time. I don’t think that anyone will mind that Ivan built his own arc reactor and power suit in his basement, but yet the government is still trying to have Tony Stark hand over his Iron Man suit.

Note to self:  Build Arc reactor in basement, then mow lawn.

In this sequel Anthony “Tony”  Stark just doesn’t give a shit, really. He is a big-time playboy, a trillionaire and a superhero what is there to be worried about, oh yeah his pesky heart. Tony Stark is an over-the-top arrogant, smug, unapologetic ass all the way up until we find out that wearing the Iron Man suit is killing him. Yeap he’s dying and rather quickly to add to the drama.

This movie is based on a comic book and all of the comic book geeks will be glad that their adolescent fantasies are now on the big screen, a feeling which I too experienced when I first saw the Silver Centurion armor. Although the Black Widow story line is spot on, Iron Man 2 as a movie is barely in the Marvel Universe, it is almost pure soap opera, which is probably why they kept referencing other Marvel’s other characters and films.

It’s not that the movie needed more action, it just needed a better story. The middle sags as Hamlet broads, but there just isn’t enough story to go around, well at least not enough to get the ensemble cast enough time to shine, especially Scarlett Johannson. I was sufficiently wondering where the movie was headed by the time Ivan Vanko a.k.a “Whiplash” shows up walking around slicing and dicing cars on the Monaco raceway. But even while he was doing that I was wondering where was the officer who tasered that 17-year old kid at the Philadelphia Phillies game.

Everything about Iron Man 2 from the music to the fight scenes to the actors are solid and unimpressive, except for Robert Downey Jr who saves or should I say makes this film, much in the same way Johnny Depp does the films he stars in. Director Jon Favreau plays footloose and fancy free with the dialogue as he goes with a more heart less suit theme. I am not kidding when I say that Iron Man gets maybe 20 minutes of screen time. These actors don’t compliment each other well. The moralizing from the first movie sadly has been removed in exchange for a larger cast and little direction. Iron Man, as marvel superhero’s go, is already on the lower rungs and this movie, while not terrible, does nothing to bolster that position.

Iron Man 2 gets a7.5 out of 10 and that’s my FilmWord.

‘Why Did I Get Married Too?’, is the sequel to Tyler Perry’s 2007 movie “Why Did I Get Married”. As many of my readers my know I try not to review Tyler Perry’s films because I have previously been compared to him, in some regard, and most of my reviews, while honest  have not been flattering.  The formula here is the same, couples bickering, exploiting emotions, and all of the marriage challenged have moral, ethical and relationship issues that usually get resolved by the time the movie is over and always with one character who is so horribly flawed that they are beyond redemption.

Honestly, Why Did I Get Married (2007) is when I thought that Tyler Perry had finally shown growth as a director, so I wanted to see this movie. The sequel’s story, though predictable, moves better than most of his films and the subject matter is still shallow. His films have marginally gotten better, but here we are almost 10 movies in and still Tyler Perry refuses to enlist real help with his film making.

This film picks up three years after the first movie, the four couples have moved on with their lives and are now taking their annual vacation. The location this time? The beautiful Bahamas. The couples all seen to be doing fine. Therapist Patricia (Janet Jackson) and her husband Gavin (Malik Yoba) have the perfect marriage and are moving on after the tragic death of their baby boy Noah. The workaholic Dianne (Sharon Leal) and her husband Terry (Tyler Perry) now have a little boy after Dianne had surgery to reverse the tubal ligation. Troy (Lamman Rucker) and Sheila (Jill Scott) are newlyweds and have moved from Colorado to Atlanta and have a little boy. Troy’s inability to land a job has put stress on the couple a matter which is complicated when Sheila’s ex-husband Mike (Richard T Jones) crashes their vacation. The ever mouthy Angela (Tasha Smith) and Marcus (Michael Jai White) are dealing with infidelity issues.

‘Why Did I Get Married Too?’ shows each of these couples attempting to portray that they have happy marriages, but before the vacation is over as we find out that real trouble is brewing. When the couples return home is where the couples face their problems head on.  Janet Jackson gives a nod to Tiger Woods in some very dramatic scenes. This film is where Janet turns in what I think is her best performance as an actress, sadly their isn’t much to see here. Now before you start thinking “he’s hating”, let me finish.

To say that this movie is cliché  and over the top are understatements, but what did you expect?  Sometimes the dialogue falls flat and the characters feel like they are on a stage instead of a beautiful island. There are several moments in this movie that will tug at your heart strings and tickle your funny bone. This is a film about relationships, love lost and found. Mr. Perry has continually assaulted my film experience since his arrival, and this movie is not totally good news for those waiting for the recently announced film “For Colored Girls”.  I said all of that to say that there is something about seeing the screen full of black actors and actresses that is refreshing… liberating even. There is something special about black people not being afraid of being black. This fact is something my fellow film critics will never get. Yes the Tyler Perry brand is formulaic and there are many things that can be said about his directing, writing  and acting. However, there is one word I have never heard someone say in regard to Tyler Perry, and that word is “Fearless”. And fearless is exactly what Tyler Perry is.  That is what ‘Why Did I Get Married Too?’ fully shows.  Fearless is what Mo’Nique showed by acting in Precious. Fearless is what Lee Daniels showed for directing that movie. They are all unafraid. So in that regard Tyler Perry thank you.

This movie gets a 7 out of 10 and that’s my Film Word.

This film is in theaters.

The original Clash of the Titans (1981) was as cheesy as cheesy gets, but it was still somehow endearing. I still recall the specific charm of the movie, which enchanted my imagination as a youth.

Directed by Louis Leterrier, Clash of the Titans (2010)… wait. Before I start I have to say that the mobs of people who mindlessly saw Avatar and bolstered the 3-D market, which will no doubt adversely affect ticket prices, have causes at least two movies this year to get the 3-D treatment post production and frankly it is Not Good. I know that I may get take a lot of flak for saying this but it is the ‘early-adopters’ that drive the prices up for everyone else. 3-D technology has been around for 20-years and even now it is imperfect, distracting and clumsy so much so the public has really got to be brain dead to fork over $4 or more extra to see any movie this way. 3-D is as unnecessary as Lady Gaga’s outfits. (subliminal message to Ipad buyers).  The extra cost alone should be enough to make anyone balk at these types of movies, on top of that “Clash” is not a good movie, sorry. I left disappointed and wondering why didn’t they just leave it alone?

The movie is set in ancient Greece this adventure follows the tale of the half-god, half mortal Perseus (Sam Worthington). Apparently humans are tired of being the chess pieces of the gods and Perseus must lead the humans in the battle versus the gods Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. The clock is ticking as  tries to save the princess from being sacrificed to the Kraken a gigantic sea monster. Zeus played by (Liam Neeson) is the only part of this movie that isn’t dull. (Note to self remember to change the movie term “special effects” to just “effects”, they haven’t been special in quite awhile a fact that this movie really hits home)  You know how your mind wanders when you see a bad movie, well I sat watching this movie wondering if demigods are still gods and I also wondered why Hollywood continues to stick political commentaries in movies like this… explosion, fight, look at that, he’s hot, politics, did you see that, she hot, fire, death, fight… we’ll only get the politics on DVD. Boring and tired this is one movie that should have stayed on Mount Olympus, another classic thoroughly butchered.

This film gets a 4.5 out of 10 and that’s my Film Word.

This movie is in theaters now

For those that don’t know there have been many great Black movies. Many of these movies have enriched to many lives. So, I have created this list to showcase some of these films. Many of these films you may not know and some you might, but they are all worth a look.  Feel free to comment on the list, but most of all enjoy. These movies will enrich any movie collection. This is part 3 and final part of my list.

10. Love & Basketball (2000)

A romantic drama this film spans a thirteen years of friendship between childhood sweethearts Monica Wright and Quincy McCall. Monica and Quincy’s love of basketball is only matched by their love for other. This is movie shows not only how love grows, but how people grow as well.  This is one of the few movies that blended sports and love together in a compelling story. This movie will make a few eyes tear up.

9. Selma (2014)

selma

A chronicle of Martin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. This film presents a unique perspective of the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A movement that is fragile, ego driven and a leader who is all too human.

8. Coming to America (1988)

It is the 21st birthday of African Prince Akeem of Zamunda and he is to marry a woman he has never seen before. The prince breaks with tradition and travels to America to look for the love of his life. This film stars Eddie Murphy, but boasts an all star black cast of actors, including James Earl Jones. This comedy is the story is of a young man’s journey to find real love.

7. Get On Up (2014)

get on up

Born in South Carolina and survived abandonment, abuse and jail James Brown become one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. He joined a gospel group as a teenager, but the jazz and blues along the “chitlin’ circuit” became his springboard to fame. Brown’s ability to ability to mesmerize audiences with his music, signature moves and sexual energy is captured in this film. This film has an excellent performance by Chadwick Boseman and presents another side of the enigmatic James Brown.

6. 12 Years A Slave (2013)

12 Years A Slave

In the years before the Civil War, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. Subjected to the cruelty of one malevolent owner, he also finds unexpected kindness from another, as he struggles continually to survive and maintain some of his dignity. It takes a lot of courage to tell a story like this, it takes even more courage to watch it.

It's going to take guts to walk around with this novel.

It’s going to take guts to walk around with this novel.

5. A Raisin in the Sun (1961)

 

This film is actually an adaptation of the Broadway play. Walter Lee Younger is a young man struggling with his station in life. Sharing a tiny apartment with his wife, son, sister and mother, he seems like an imprisoned man. Until, that is, the family gets an unexpected financial windfall. The film itself is a look into the life of an African American family in the Mid-1900s. This film shows how Blacks were at a crossroad between longing for as past and a future that may be unattainable.

4. Do the Right Thing (1989)

This movie sparked a national dialogue on race in America. The film scene is Brooklyn as this film pushes just about every racial hot button there is. This film is also noted for its style and look.

3. The Color Purple (1985)

This movie follows the life of Celie Johnson as she struggles through life in the early 1900s. This movie has some very classic  performances. This movie raised the consciousness of the United States to domestic violence.

2. The Matrix (1999)

Neo has always questioned his reality, but the truth is far beyond his imagination. Neo is contacted by Morpheus, a legendary computer hacker branded a terrorist by the government. Morpheus awakens Neo to the real world. A world that is a ravaged wasteland where humanity has been enslaved by a race of machines which live off of their body and imprison their minds within an artificial reality known as the Matrix. If you think movie is not a black movie, then you need to Free Your Mind.

1. Roots (1977)

This was movie that was broken up into a mini-series, but nevertheless it shook the moral consciousness of our American nation. This movie detailed the struggles and horrors of  slaves. There hasn’t been a movie  made like it since.

Honorable Mentions:  Lillies of the Field, The Great Debaters, Lady Sings the Blues, Hollywood Shuffle, When the Levees Broke, Hotel Rwanda, cornbread, earl and me

All of the movies on this list are movies of note. Movies should not be judged on things that can be manipulated such as box offices, internet popularity, etc. Movies are art as art it should be viewed on its content, merit, style, direction as well as impact. As you have probably guessed by now I have listed more than 30 films. In truth, I could have compiled a list of over 100 movies, but I feel that after viewing these movies anyone will have a greater understanding of African American culture as a whole. Pick a few movies from the list and see for yourself.

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Part 1 Part 2

For those that don’t know there have been many great Black movies. Many of these movies have enriched many lives. So, I have created this list to showcase some of these films. Many of these films you may not know and some you might, but they are all worth a look.  Feel free to comment on the list, but most of all enjoy. These movies will enrich any movie collection. This is part 2 of my list.

20. Fruitvale Station (2013)

Fruitvale Station

 

22-year-old black man Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) is now trying hard to live a clean life and support his girlfriend and young daughter. The film uses flashbacks to reveal the last day in Oscar’s life, in which he accompanied his family and friends to San Francisco to watch fireworks on New Year’s Eve. On the way back home, he became swept up in an altercation with police that ended in tragedy. This story is powerful because it is sadly an everyday story.

19. Malcolm X (1992)

 

This is a biopic of the life, philosophies and transitions of Malcolm X, an influential American figure and Nation of Islam minister. Malcolm X is portrayed by Denzel Washington. This film is based on the book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X . For those who don’t know of Malcolm X this film, with the book, is a great teaching tool, to learn about the man and his life.

18. Antwone Fisher (2002)

 

A sailor prone to violent outbursts is sent to a naval psychiatrist for help. Refusing at first to open up, the young man eventually breaks down and reveals a horrific childhood. Through his therapy, he confronts his painful past and begins a journey to find the family he never knew. This movie is moving and heartwarming. This entire film is a journey of self-discovery, through the eyes of Antwone Fisher. This story is about the need to be loved and the need to forgive.

17. Boyz ‘n the Hood (1991)

 

This movie is a gripping tale of a group of childhood friends growing up in the ultra violent South Central Los Angeles. As far as modern urban dramas go this one has it all. This film makes important points regarding the struggles facing black boys in the inner cities. It is Simply Powerful.

16. Amistad (1997)

 

 

This film takes a little known chapter in African American history as gives it weight. This is the story of a bloody revolt of African captives on a Spanish slave ship off the coast of America in 1839, and the subsequent trials that followed. This story is as compelling as it is real.


 

15. Ray (2004)

 

This the true life story of legendary blues singer Ray Charles. The movie follows Ray Charles from the losing his eyesight in early childhood, to his rising career during the 1950s and 1960s, and his problems with racism, drug abuse, failed relationships and his revolutionary idea to change the pace music by combining soul and gospel music. This movie provides incredibly insight into a brilliant man.

14. Cooley High (1975)

 

This film follows a group of high school friends, who live on the North Side of Chicago, in the mid-1960. Life changes for two of the characters when they meet a pair of career criminals and get falsely arrested in connection with stealing a Cadillac. This is a coming of age film for young black men, as high schoolers deal with their triumphs as well as their struggles.

13. Soul Food (1997)

Mama Joe has held her family together for over 40 years around a traditional Sunday dinner of soul food. When diabetes hospitalizes her, the dinners stop and tensions among her three daughters start to break the family apart. This movie epitomized life in present-day America for many African-American families. Soul Food deals with multiple family issues, the struggles, the triumph, but most of all it portrayed African American family’s a real familial unit, with real problems.

12. Love Jones (1997)

The story revolves around a young poet in Chicago who starts dating a beautiful and talented photographer. This movie deftly deals with the differences between just kickin’ it, or are we really in love. This movie plays equally to men and women. This movie is similar in fashion to Brown Sugar, but this movie introduced Spoken Word to the world and that sets it apart. Love Jones is a real slice of African Americana.

11. Purple Rain (1984)

“The Kid” with a gift for music meets an aspiring singer and finds that talent alone isn’t all that he needs. This is a complicated loved tale with “The Kid” not wanting to repeat his father’s self destructive behavior. “The Kid” comes to grips with life, love and loss. This movie is usually overlooked as a glorified music video and it is music set on fire. Glorified or not this film positively burns long after you are finished watching it. After all, this movie made it possible for similar movies such as, ‘8 mile’ to be made.

Honorable Mentions: Hollywood Shuffle, Hoop Dreams, Within Our Gates, Eddie Murphy Raw, Lackawanna Blues, Boomerang, Precious, The Best Man, The Wood, Dream Girls,The Inkwell, Sparkle, I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, and New Jack City.

Part 1

Part 3

For those that don’t know there have been many great Black movies. Many of these great movies have enriched many lives. So, decided to created a list showcasing some of these films. Many of these films you may not know and some you might, but they all are worth a look.  Feel free to comment on the list, but most of all enjoy. These movies will enrich any movie collection.

30. House Party (1990)

The parents are gone and the Kids will Play. This film introduces people not only to Kid N’ Play, but also the new feel good Hip-Hop lifestyle.  This is a cheesy hip hop flick that was well cast, with endearing characters.

29. City of GOD (2002)

The images, sound and style are the most unique features of this film about Brazil. Honestly what you come away with is that the greatest violence of all, is poverty.

28. Fear of a Black Hat (1990)

This is a side-splittingly funny mockumentary about the imaginary hard-core rap group NWH (Niggaz With Hats). The documentary tracks NWH’s rise and fall from stardom. Be careful this movie is filled with parody and satire.

27. Hustle & Flow (2005)

A tale of a pimp in the middle of a mid-life crisis who decides he wants to be a rapper. Just when you think the film can’t get any better, it surprises you.  Just when you thought that it was safe to go into the hood they make a film like this one. This is an in your face unique portrayal of a hood film.

26. Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes (2006)

This documentary provides a riveting examination of manhood, sexism, and homophobia in hip-hop culture. This movie is a hip-hop tribute while challenging the rap music industry to take responsibility for glamorizing destructive, deeply conservative stereotypes of manhood.

25. Menace II Society (1993)

A young street hustler attempts to escape the rigors and temptations of the ghetto in a quest for a better life. This is another Urban Film, but much more hardcore than ‘Boyz N the Hood’. This movie is about drugs, gangs, and violence. It is as real a movies get with this subject matter.

The Butler

24. The Butler (2013)

After leaving the South as a young man and finding employment at an elite hotel in Washington, D.C., Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) gets the opportunity of a lifetime when he is hired as a butler at the White House. Over the course of three decades, Cecil has a front-row seat to history and the inner workings of the Oval Office. However, this is a turbulent time for the black community and his role in the White House leads to tension at home, alienating his wife (Oprah Winfrey) and causing conflict with his anti-establishment son.

23. Krush Grove (1985)

This movie is based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings, up-and-coming manager Russell Walker has all the hottest acts on the record label Krush Groove records, including Run-D.M.C., Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, and Kurtis Blow, while Rick (Rubin) produces their records. When Run-D.M.C. has a hit record and Russell doesn’t have the money to press records, he borrows money from a street hustler, and the Hip Hop industry is born. The movie outpaces other good movies such Beatstreet, and Breakin’ because it shows that music is a business.

22. This Is It (2009)

This film is a compilation of interviews, rehearsals and backstage footage of Michael Jackson as he prepared for his “This is it”. A tour he never began because of his unfortunate death. This film reveals the music, the talent, and the man that was Michael Jackson. This well-rounded look at the man who changed the entertainment industry forever, is definitely a must see, if for the music alone.

21. Friday (1995)

I would have loved to put this movie up higher on my list it one of my personal favorites. Friday lets the audience into the lives of two friends who sit around smoking weed on a Friday. Sounds simple enough, but then we are greeted to crazies, moral dilemmas, life lessons and gun battles. This movie is often real and always hilarious.

I would have liked to put stand up offerings in the listing, Kevin Hart, Chris Rock, Dave Chapple, Richard Pryor, Eddie Griffin, Tyler Perry…there are just too many comedies to include and still get a well-rounded list. i will say that Eddie Murphy’s “Delirious.” is probably the best stand up ever. If you look at a film like Boomerang you can see the early diversity of Mr. Murphy Boomerang is one of the first films to portray blacks in non-traditional urban roles.

Honorable Mention: Carmen Jones, Baby Boy, Poetic Justice, Jason Lyric, and the best of those type of movies was Set it Off


MG Hardie (join the fan page)

Part 2 Part 3