Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This Is It: Michael Jackson's Concert Film Review

I've never seen Michael Jackson in concert personally. Like most, my experiences of his performances have always been through the eyes and lenses of someone else. Yet, even through their prisms, I've felt his energy, his passion, his dedication to his craft. "This Is It" is a testament to those traits and Micheal's "give it your all" spirit we came to know on stage.

On stage is where he transcended, rose above the gossip fodder, the haters, all the mess that comes with celebrity and became an icon. "This Is It" demonstrates what made him such and how he related so personally to his music. Michael Jackson FELT music, became one with it--every instrument and every note. And though musicians are accustomed to playing half notes, there was no room for half stepping in delivering his music. Surprisingly, in the film he literally "called out" a musician for not making a certain sound strong enough so that he could feel it. It was done nicely, of course, but proved his attention to every detail of his music.

How his music makes people feel is a cornerstone of Michael's artistry, and "This Is It" gives audiences a true sense in how the magic happens in live performance. Powerful and affecting vocals, brilliant choreography, and amazing visuals and special effects all work together to pull the emotion right of you. So, if all that is experienced in rehearsal just imagine how astounding the actual concert would have been. As Michael said in the film, "We want to take them places they've never been before." Without a doubt, he would have done that and more.

And just as with any great show, I didn't want it to end. For two musical hours or more, the sad news of his passing was forgotten. Time stood still. He was as present as he had ever been. Michael danced, sang, joked, and uplifted his stage family with his passion and work ethic. Interviews with the dancers start the film and then other performers and designers are heard from throughout the film.

"This Is It" opens in theaters TODAY. Visit the THIS IS IT website for ticket information and more.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Day In The Life Of A Tanjareen...Tanjareen Martin that is!

A tangerine is a cute little fruit with big flavor, typically a bright shade of orange in color. Actress Tanjareen--said the same way, but considerably larger than a handful and a lot more attractive--is big on flavor too, but ain't nothing small about her game in Hollywood. She acts, she models, she hikes (Lawd! Does she hike), she sky dives, she produces, gives back to the community, and the list goes on. The girl's got skills and definitely a spirit that's not to be defeated.

So me and the trusty Canon cam thought we'd hang out with her for a day. Call it a "Day In The Life Of A Tanjareen," if you will. We visited her home, then it was off to choose some high fashion designs at the boutique of celebrity stylists, Sterling Capricio. That's Cah-PREESH-shio for you phonetically challenged folks. Lol.

While there we did a mini fashion show then Capricio shared some insider tips on dressing Hollywood startlets which I'll post later. Then next, it was off to get some REAL exercise. You'll see what I mean in the video. I was definitely "gettin' it in" with Tanjareen and the other Valleywood Fit Girls Club members. And though I appeared to be in shape to them, that part of our day proved that I'm IN A SHAPE when it comes to exercise. Lawd! I need to renew my Bally's membership QUICK! Roll this beautiful Tanjareen footage!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Skin: A True Story Delves Below The Surface of Racism

Based On The Real Life Story of Sandra Laing

In "Skin" ten-years-old Sandra Laing is a lovely young girl. She's smart, friendly, and loves playing with family and friends at her home in South Africa. Her parents, Abraham and Sannie, are local store owners. On the surface, their simple lives are picture perfect.

But look closer. By racial description Sandra is a black, but her biological parents are white. To them her skin tone is not an issue; she is their white child. But to the outside world she is black and is to be treated as any "colored" person according to the rules of apartheid.

Still, Sandra's father is determined to make the world see her as he does. Even after the State board classifies her as "colored" and expels her from boarding school, he fights in court to get her reclassified. As his battle gains international media attention he uses it to his favor and eventually Sandra is reclassified as white.

But it's a small victory if at all for young Sandra Laing. As a young woman she comes to realize in her parent's Afrikaner world, her skin and other African features classify her as a "kaffir", or a "nigger" by American definition. Thus, the privileges that come with being white in South Africa are never to be hers.

Despite her parents' attempts to shelter her in their white world, she falls in love with a young black man and runs away with him to Swaziland. Their "interracial" coupling is against the law and Sandra is arrested and jailed for months thanks to her angry father involving the police. Once released, Sandra then makes a decision that will change the course of her life forever.

"Skin" The Movie

This narrative film based on a true story truly explores the complexities of race and white privilege without being polemic nor political. It is not a story of apartheid, but a human story of how the distinction of race at its core is so arbitrary.

So how is it possible two seemingly white parents could produce a black child? The answer is one of simple genetics. To explain it culturally likens it to the "one drop rule". To take it a step further, Google antiquated terms "mulatto", "quadroon,", "octoroon", and the phrase "passing" as it relates to them and there's your answer.

"Skin" does not delve into these distinctions but it does shed great insight into how race impacts individuals even within the same family. Again, it's a human story and Academy Award nominee Sophie Okonedo as Sandra Laing is superb in bringing Sandra Laing's story and emotions to the big screen.

Actors Sam Neill and Alice Krige deliver Oscar worthy performances as well. As Abraham and Sannie Laing, they hold tight to their "white" status despite the proof of their mixed heritage--their children. But dealing with Sandra's ultimate choice is what polarizes them as a family the most.

Overall, "Skin" is one of the best films I've seen all year. The story, the writing, the acting, the music, everything works together so well that I predict Academy Award. In the meantime, the website states "Skin" will be released in US theaters October 30th. Learn even more about the film in the videos below and meet the real Sandra Laing HERE.



Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why Hollywood Won't Tell The Real Black Hair Story

Hurray for Hollywood! Once again the entertainment machine has managed to make a film that pisses off the very audience it thinks it knows best based on box office receipts, surveys, and spread sheets. That audience being black folk, African-Americans, the direct descendants of chattel slaves in this country. The film being "Good Hair." The subject: Black hair.

And yeah, I went there with the "slaves" mention because how we as black folk respond to things concerning our hair is often a throwback to past hurts and shames of slavery and Jim Crow passed down through generations. But Rock's film won't address that 'cause that's not a subject mainstream--aka white people, and some black folk too --wants to hear.

However, due to Rock's cinematic approach, the old debate of "good hair" vs "nappy hair" is now up for mainstream discussion. And based on the conversations I've had and observed, those outside the culture can't understand why so many black women are upset. It's not so much about our "secrets" being revealed--weaves and wigs are no longer taboo. It's about how Hollywood in its attempt to make people laugh, has placed black women on a platform to be LAUGHED AT and ridiculed. And that shit ain't funny, especially when it comes from black men.

While fighting mad, black women need to understand Hollywood doesn't give a damn about black hair nor its cultural relevance. What it cares about is your green dollar and how you will spend it opening night. And based on those stats and surveys I mentioned Hollywood execs know exactly how to bait you to the theaters. This is how:

1. Make it funny! Black folk love comedies according to the research. "They don't financially support dramas as well as they do comedies, so keep them laughing and we can laugh all the way to the bank," is how Hollywood thinks. Sadly, we prove them right more often than not.

2. Flash images of black celebs on screen we recognize. We are so hungry to see ourselves portrayed on the big screen we get lured to the theaters only to realize we've been hoodwinked, bamboozled. That said, if you haven't seen Spike Lee's "Bamboozled" or Reggie Bythewood's "Dancing In September", do so. They address black sitcoms but the issues apply to film too.

3. Omit history. Who cares about history? "We're not here to TEACH them just REACH them...them pockets that is." Says Hollywood. Black people don't want to be reminded of the past and white people don't want to feel guilty about it, so historical relevance is often left out or minimized as much as possible. But just in case I'm wrong, check the stats. How many historical black films have made it to number 1 opening weekend? Has a black documentary ever done it? No? Imagine that!

My point is Hollywood isn't going to risk a multi-million dollar budget to make a film it knows statistically will not make a profit. The documentaries exploring the history, politics, business, AND culture of black hair are INDEPENDENTLY produced. And yes, "My Nappy ROOTS" is one of those films. But sadly, we don't support independent films as we should cause we'd rather see celebrities and antics.

We are so distracted by celebrity we too often miss the relevance of the story or the obvious tripod legs, light poles and extension cords--things professionals work hard to hide--hanging in the award winning comedian's shot. Can you say, "after thought?"

WAKE UP and smell the hair relaxer, people! Understand Hollywood is in the BUSINESS of show. If you're looking for a more in depth approach to any subject matter, seek the works of independent filmmakers, authors, etc. Don't rely solely on Hollywood, gossip blogs, the news, etc. to tell you what you NEED to know about your own culture. Most exist to tell you what THEY want you to know. So don't even get mad, get enlightened. Then act accordingly.

Photo Source: Me:-)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jamie Lee Curtis, Laila Ali Honored by Diamond In The Raw Foundation

Recently, The Stuntwomen's Association Diamond In The Raw Foundation awarded actress Jamie Lee Curtis and boxing powerhouse, Laila Ali, with top honors. Visit the foundation's website to see a list of all the honorees.



Monday, October 12, 2009

This Is It: Michael Jackson's New Single

Close your eyes for a moment and listen to this, and in those brief moments you'll feel MJ's presence.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Chris Rock Responds to Lawsuit

Source: RadarOnline.com

RadarOnline.com has obtained exclusive court papers from the Central District Of California (Western Division) where Rock defends himself against Regina Kimbell whose own documentary Nappy Roots covers the history of black hair.

In his declaration, Rock admits that he did meet with Kimbell for a private screening of her documentary at Paramount for research purposes for his own movie.

But he denies her claim that she showed him the documentary because somebody from his team told her: “I think we can help you”.

The comedian claims that he first got the idea for his ‘docu-comedy’ when he was playing a comedy gig in Atlanta 17 years ago.

Regina Kimbell is trying to block the public release of Good Hair on October 9, 2009, which Rock claims would damage both his professional and personal reputation.

He denies the plaintiff’s claim of plagiarism and thievery and wishes the court to clear his name in connection with these accusations in her lawsuit.

Here's Rock's full declaration

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Filmmaker Requests Injunction Against Chris Rock's "Good Hair"

Source:

Tonita Perry
Eaddy Perry & Associates, Inc. for
viriginmoonentertainment, inc.

(HOLLYWOOD, Oct. 7, 2009) - - Filmmaker Regina Kimbell continued her quest for justice filing a request for injunction in federal court in downtown Los Angeles against Chris Rock’s “Good Hair,” scheduled for limited theatrical release on Friday, Oct. 9.

Yesterday, the evidence submitted included an email from Kimbell to Doug Miller, then Rock’s assistant and now “Good Hair” associate producer. In the email, Kimbell lets Miller know that she suspected they were making a copy of the film without her permission.




The court filing against Chris Rock, HBO, and the domestic and foreign theatrical distributors is requesting a halt in releasing the film this week and future release until a verdict is reached by jury trial.

On Monday, Kimbell filed a $5 million copyright infringement lawsuit. The basis for the lawsuit is “My Nappy ROOTS: A Journey Through Black Hair-itage” was allegedly copied by Chris Rock after he and his production team viewed the film in June 2007. After hearing the buzz about the film, Rock requested a private screening at Paramount Studios. Unaware that Rock had a deal to produce a black hair documentary for HBO, Kimbell agreed to let him see the film.

Kimbell’s idea for the movie began in 2002 when her daughter Brighton, then 16-years-old, wrote an essay, which served as the starting point conceptually of a five-minute film, mentored by her mother. As a result, over the years the award-winning film evolved from an essay, to a short film, and now a feature-length film.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Filmmaker Files Copyright Lawsuit Against Chris Rock, HBO over "Good Hair"

Source:
Tonita Perry
Eaddy Perry & Associates, Inc.
for virginMOONentertainment,inc.


(HOLLYWOOD, Oct. 6, 2009) - - Yesterday filmmaker Regina Kimbell filed a $5 million copyright infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against Chris Rock, HBO, the domestic and foreign distributor theatrical distributors for soon to be released documentary “Good Hair.”

The complaint alleges Kimbell’s movie, “My Nappy ROOTS: A Journey Through Black Hair-itage” was copied by Chris Rock after he and his production team viewed the film in June 2007. After hearing the buzz about the film, Rock requested a private screening at Paramount Studios. Unaware that Rock had a deal to produce a black hair documentary for HBO, Kimbell agreed to let him see the film.

When Kimbell saw the trailer for “Good Hair,” she immediately saw the similarities and was stunned.

“This was an important story for me to tell, which is why I poured over five years of my life researching, traveling, and, shooting this film,” explains Kimbell. “I had a feeling of disbelief and disappointment, so overwhelming that all I thought was I am seeing my film with a different title.”

Kimbell’s idea for the movie began in 2002 when her daughter then 16-year-old daughter, Brighton Lynscot, faced her own hair angst. As a result, Lynscot wrote an essay, which served as the starting point conceptually of a five-minute film, mentored by her mother. The five-minute piece went on to win a NAACP ACT-SO gold medal locally and nationally was recognized with fourth place honors, which had never been done before.

Premiering as a feature-length film in 2007 at the Pan African Film Festival and winning Festival Choice Award for Best Documentary, “My Nappy ROOTS: A Journey Through Black Hair-itage” has evolved from an essay, to a short film, and now a feature-length film. As a short, it won several awards including first place at the Hollywood Black Film

Festival and Best of the Best at FESPACO, the largest and most prestigious international film festival held in Africa.

According to Kimbell's attorney, Reginald K. Brown, "This is a very unique infringement case. Typically, a writer or producer claims that a treatment, outline or a script was stolen. Here, a finished film was misappropriated after a defendant asked to see the film."

This definitive, feature-length documentary film examines the legacy of black hair care through cultural, societal, and political issues in the African American community over time. The film reveals the significance and pride of African hairstyles prior to the first arrival of enslaved Africans to America, where the broader struggle of black people began, to the modern establishment of black hair as an economic mainstay in America. This struggle translates into a billion dollar industry – black hair care – that exists today.

It covers a diverse array of hairstyles from dreads to braids, twists, perms, jeri curls, weaves, and the afro that bridge hundreds of years of African American culture. This zesty journey tackles “good hair verses bad hair” and the role media plays as influencer. The illustration of emerging industry trends and hair artistry from top hair shows throughout the United States allows infinite travel from the past, present, and to the future.

Kimbell assembled a world-class line-up of celebrities (Vivica A. Fox, Patti LaBelle, Niecy Nash, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, to name a few), historians, authors, journalists, comedians, hair stylists, barbers, and black hair care industry business icons to provide historical, professional, and personal accounts of their black hair journey.

For more information on “My Nappy ROOTS: A Journey Through Black Hair-itage,” visit www.mynappyroots.com.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

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