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Archive for the ‘A Closer Look’ Category

Watching the news recently has made me think about the mainstream American news coverage of the protests in Iran following the nation’s recent election fallout. What if the exact same events occurring in Iran were happening somewhere else? Somewhere that most Americans couldn’t identify on a map (yes, I know this could be a lot of places) or that had no important ties/conflicts with America? If the United States wasn’t trying to deter President Ahmadinejad from developing nuclear weapons, would the atrocities going on inside Iran even make it past page 7 on the international page, let alone be all over the front page and on TV?

On Sunday, political pundit and conservative radio talk show host Bill Bennett criticized President Obama’s reaction to the events in Iran. Here’s an excerpt of what Bennett had to say:

After more than a week of political protests on the streets of Tehran and repeated criticism of the White House by Republicans on Capitol Hill, a leading conservative voice is also criticizing President Barack Obama’s response to the political upheaval in Iran.

Bennett said: “This is very disappointing, as far as I’m concerned. This was the president to whom the whole world was looking. . . . This is a president about hope, he’s about the future. This is a guy who was a community organizer. He missed it. He missed the opportunity.”

“We are last best hope on Earth,” Bennett also said. “He is the President of the United States. If he will not side with these young people against a religious autocracy that is beating the hell out of people, what is the point of being the moral leader of the free world?” CNN (more…)

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By B-Rand

I love almost everything about Quentin Tarantino movies. Along with Tim Burton and Spike Lee, Tarantino is my favorite director. But what irks me most about his movies — rather, the reception of his movies — is how little recognition and praise people give “Jackie Brown.”

Tarantino is the best at reviving the careers of actors who seem to have taken up residence in the $5 DVD bin at Wal-Mart. He made John Travolta relevant again in 1994 in “Pulp Fiction.” He reminded people there was someone in the world actually named Uma in 2003’s “Kill Bill.” Tarantino brought Kurt Russell out of family-movie hell in 2007 and put him in the driver seat in “Grindhouse: Death Proof.”

In 1997, it was Pam Grier’s turn. Tarantino took one of the biggest risks of his career (in my opinion, his biggest risk was Death Proof. Too bad it didn’t pay off.) when he made “Jackie Brown,” the film adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s book Rum Punch, and cast black people (Grier and Samuel L. Jackson) in two of the film’s lead roles.

Jackie (Grier) was as 44-year-old black flight attendant working in the s*****est airlines (her words, not mine) thanks to prior legal troubles. Making some extra money on the side, she brought in large sums of cash from Mexico to gun runner Ordell Robbie (Jackson). When Beaumont (Chris Tucker) snitches to save his own butt from jail time, Department of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents arrest Jackie and threaten her with with the same fate that Beaumont eluded. (more…)

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I caught Robert Kenner, the filmmaker of “Food Inc.,” giving an interview over the weekend. “Food Inc.” is a film about the nation’s food industry and its impact on our health. It comes to theaters in select cities this summer. I am so going to see this when it comes to Atlanta in late June. I love these types of books/movies. But even though I know this stuff I still battle with eating healthy. Stuff that’s full of chemicals/unhealthy is sooo addictive. And the food companies know it.

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults. Hungry for Change

Check out the trailer:

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By Issa Rae

*Sigh*

Clearly I’m a glutton for punishment. I don’t know why I doubted my gut instincts about this film, as the Wayans Brothers have not come with anything fresh for a long time. Watching this film has OFFICIALLY confirmed to me that the spoof genre is absolutely PLAYED OUT. How many gay jokes, fart gags and fat people pokes can you put in one movie? … Or SEVERAL movies when it comes to the case of the Wayans Brothers.

Sure, the film has its moments — you can find them in the trailer — and Damien Wayans, Jr. is pretty much the exact comedy replica of his father and uncles, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. It means he doesn’t offer anything new or fresh to the genre.

Dance Flick just felt like one big inside joke for the Wayans Clan. I have a feeling that they found this WAYYYY funnier than its intended audience did …

If you have watched all the dance movies that have come out in the last decade, you’ll be somewhat entertained, as they found a way to blend all these movies together in what seems to pass off as a storyline. But at certain parts of the movie, it’s clear that they tried to cram TOO much pop culture relevance into the film. One particular scene gives a weird homage to Twilight. Really? What does Twilight have to do with dancing? And YES, I’m embarrassed that I recognized the scene immediately (I did NOT see Twilight on purpose). I was pleased, however, that they brought Kim Wayans back, though briefly. Why don’t they USE her more? Am I the only one who finds her hilarious?

Anyway, if this is ALL that the next generation of Wayans has to offer, then their dynasty will soon collapse on the basis of “tired and unfunny mediocrity.” Think about it, where’s Leslie Nielson? The former champion of spoofs was at the top of his game, starring in films like the Naked Gun series and Spy Hard, and then what happened? We got TIRED of the same old jokes and the same old concept. Then the Wayans came out with Scary Movie and seemed to revitalize that concept — they made it younger, funnier and way more immature, which was fine at the time, but now … I think it’s a wrap.

I’m hoping that dance movies are the last possible genre left to spoof and that the Wayans Brothers can move on to new terrain.

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Update: This post was on The Black Snob as part of her Uncoventional Wisdom series. Yay!

This article is not an argument about whether homosexuality is right or wrong. Or an excuse for DL brothers who date women. And I don’t understand DL guys who really don’t believe they’re gay. AT ALL.  

ThaDownLowBut moving on …

One afternoon last year, a coworker started a conversation with me about her sister’s former marriage. We weren’t really friends – I’d only known her for a few days, but she was one of those talkers who would tell you her entire life story before you even know her last name.

“My sister was married to this guy … I knew something was off about him, and our mama warned her before she married him that he was gay. She’s good at noticing that stuff. But she just got mad at our mama and married him anyway.

So years go by and I see the signs – I know he’s gay. My sister’s the only one who didn’t know or didn’t want to know. Then she finally finds out he was cheating on her. And with a man! But our mama told her! She had so many signs. But she just wanted to be married….”

She continued talking about her sister, and then we moved to the topic of down low brothers in general. “Many of my male friends are gay,” I told her, “And I’m sure even if I couldn’t see it, somebody would let me know before I got into that type of situation.”

“That would never happen to me,” she said (referring to her sister). “Because I’m just like my mama, we have the gift. I can feel that demon spirit.”

Wait – what? I have no idea what my facial expression was, but in my mind, I was like, “Did she just say she could tell if guys were gay because she could feel their demon spirit?” Aww lawd. Sigh.

Now, this lady was a few chips short of a Lays bag, but there are a lot of other black people who feel to some extent that gay people just need to get that devil out of them. And this has fostered an unofficial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” culture in the black community. You can be gay, just don’t admit it. And it’s the reason a lot of DL brothers will probably never come out. (more…)

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Tyler Perry’s second series – “Meet the Browns” will begin airing new episodes this week. It’s so sad that there are so few black shows. Between Tyler Perry shows, black people on reality shows a la VH1-style, and BET – black television is pretty much gasping for its last breath. The cast of the Cosby show celebrated the show’s 25th anniversary this week. The show probably wouldn’t even get a green light today. Sigh.

Anyway, if “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne” are pretty much the only black sitcoms right now, count me out.

 Ironically, “Meet the Browns” is the Tyler Perry movie that made me put a personal ban on all future Tyler Perry movies. It was that bad.

Sadly, Tyler Perry productions are the only films some black actors can find work in these days. I’d be OK with him being the WalMart of black film these days if he worked to be creative and improve his craft. But he doesn’t. He just keeps on putting out crappy badly written stuff and people keep watching.

When I saw the advertisements recently, I thought the show was just now premiering, but apparently a few trial run episodes aired in January. Because I don’t like to down something I haven’t even read/watched, I found an episode online from January and temporarily broke my lifetime Tyler Perry ban. (more…)

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I’m definitely going to see “Precious” when it hits theaters in November. It looks intense, but I love movies and books like this.

The film has already won a Sundance award, and there are rumblings that Monique’s performance in the film is Oscar-worthy. Gotta see that.

While looking around for more information on the film, I read a few comments on blackvoices.com.

LAWAZIZ wrote: When will our film makers begin to present films that show our “POSITVE” stories from ancient times in Africa/the West Indies & America? How long must we wait for the great images of our people to be promoted and projected? The “ONE-SIDED” distorted look at some portion of our life has to stop!!!!

Shaye wrote: I haven’t read the book so I can only comment on what I’ve seen in the trailers and what I’ve read. It looks very sad and depressing. I won’t be watching this movie. I wish Black people could make some heartwarming movies instead of always showing the worst of our race. I see enough depressing stuff by just watching the news. Enough of this “father raping daughters, downtrodden poor black female crap”. Then you wonder why other races look at us the way they do. Yeah, yeah I know that by the end the little “precious” has uplifted herself, but damn look what she had to go through. This was not entertaining to me at all.

 Joy wrote: We’ve gone from them always showing us in a negative light to doing it ourselves in the name of telling the truth. Maybe the movie will help some young black child (or older person for that matter) by giving them a sense of hope but is reflecting the ugliness in our society the only way we can reach these children? (more…)

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While catching up with a college friend this weekend, she told me about a new guy she’d met. Everything was going fine – that was until after dinner when he told her about his atheist beliefs.

Let’s just say that changed the course of the evening. She was in shock. “I’ve never met a black atheist,” she said. “I could never be with someone who didn’t believe in God.”

“I could be with someone of a different faith,” I replied, but I couldn’t see myself with an atheist either.

We could think of friends or family members we knew who have issues with the Black church. People who just don’t go to church regularly. But no atheists or agnostics.

I wondered: Are there just not that many, or are they just not outspoken about their beliefs because it’s not acceptable in many parts of the black community?

Many of my close male friends are gay, and I always take issue with how homophobic the black community can be. So, I felt some type of way about the fact that I’d never thought about this part of the black community before.

(more…)

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Note: This is the first of a series of guest posts on WLLC from J school friends/fellow alumni.

Review by: B-Rand

I love movies, TV and music. And I love random, old, and sometimes obscure movies, TV shows and music. I also love writing, but it wasn’t until a friend suggested I find something about which to write –and do it on a regular basis — that I decided to write about all of my aforementioned pleasures. With my Closer Look segments, I want to shed light on forms of entertainment I think are undervalued, have been unnoticed, or are worth a view just so people can judge it for themselves.

After HBO’s “The Wire” ended, the network has been missing their token critically acclaimed show starring 90 percent or more black people. In my opinion, “The Corner,” “Oz,” and “The Wire” were no mere place holders. From what I’ve seen and read, those shows were great, providing smart, insightful entertainment all the while providing work for hosts of minority actors. But when I saw Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose in advertisements for “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” I had mixed emotions.

On one hand, we had an abundance of dark skin and natural hair back on HBO, a network renowned for its high-caliber productions. On the other hand, there was forced acting and even more forced African accents (nawt the duddee = not the daddy). There were perfect-pitch notes: the show was actually filmed in Botswana. And notes that fell flat: a song by The Cardigans playing throughout the commercials. Imagine listening to “Love Fool” while watching the trailer for” Amistad.”

But knowing how misleading commercials can be, I turned to Channel 14 Sunday night to judge the show for myself. “The accents won’t be that hard on my ears once I see the whole show,” I told myself. “Playing The Cardigans during commercial for a show about Africans in Africa is just a way to rope in more white viewers. The show will be good.”

But it wasn’t good. It wasn’t even average. There weren’t many things wrong with the show, but the things that were wrong were massive. I’m not that cunning of a linguist, but I know those accents can’t be accurate. Anywhere close to accurate. Jill and Anika’s accents sounded so forced that I thought they watched Halle Berry in “X-men” and elaborated on her shaky Kenyan accent. And the accents weren’t the only things that were held at gunpoint. Anika’s acting was so over the top. It was like an African-themed drag queen contestant on a new RuPaul show.

But my biggest issue regarding the No. 1 Ladies is that is boring. Very, utterly, painfully boring. I respect anyone who takes on a task as arduous as adaptive screenplay writing, but the premiere episode could have been cut by 45 minutes and it would have been a much better show. I don’t believe in rushing things just to satisfy short attention spans, but I also don’t believe in drawing out an episode to approximately one hour and 45 minutes.

Did I like the show? Not really. Should you watch the show? Yes, just to make up your own mind. But I will tell you now, if you were looking for the next great HBO minority-driven show, this is not it. This show and these ladies are not my No. 1.

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