Friday, August 27, 2010

Takers: You Gotta Take Some of the Bad With The Good

Rainforest Films has done it again with new bank heist flick, "Takers"! In fact, I foresee another box office hit because the anticipation of this baby has been high and now the wait is over! But just in case you lived under a cinematic rock for the last 10 years, Rainforst Films is the successful movie making home of Rob Hardy and Will Packer, the same dynamic duo that brought us "Stomp The Yard," "This Christmas," and "Obsessed".

The story like most heist movies centers around a group of men with individual talents that enables them to do very strategic and technical robberies. But one job goes bad, resulting in one member going to prison. After his release, he convinces them to do a major heist mere days after pulling off a successful one. Can he be trusted although he never snitched on them? Where do his loyalties really lie? That story point gets inquiring minds rolling.

But with all the good movie elements there are some bad! There's a few questionable edits a trained eye will pick up on and many elements of the story feel very deja vu. In fact, while watching it in the company of other film reviewers, the one thing agreed upon was that it felt and looked like "Set It Off" and "The Italian Job", which is literally referenced in the film.

That's a small negative when you look at the big picture--pun intended. Damn near every movie reminds you of one that came before it, especially these high end bank robbing flicks. Directors, screenwriters, producers are inspired by what they see their peers do, but the trick is to take that inspiration and make it your own. Unfortunately, "Takers" lacks those unique elements so you feel as if you've seen this movie before.

So should that stop from you seeing "Takers" IN THE THEATERS STARTING TODAY? Hell to the naw! Form your own opinion! I want errbody and dey cousin--some of you got hundreds of them--to support this film NOT because it's marketed as a black film--technically not all the leads are black and the director is white--but because it's a great example of what black Hollywood can do when it pulls its resources TOGETHER! Brothers are working it out in front of and behind the camera! And overall, it's not a bad film. I'm all about supporting a good effort so people can make better films.

The talented eye candy on camera is enough to draw audiences to the theaters. Idris Elba, Michael Eley, T.I., Chris Brown, that's more than enough hotness to melt your butter. Even the white guys, Hayden Christensen and Paul Walker get hormones flowing. And to all the guys including Matt Dillon and Jay Hernandez, who portray the cops, they offer more than just good looks, they deliver strong performances! T.I. and Chris are especially coming into their own as actors.

Behind the scenes "Takers" is the brain child of veteran actor Gabriel Casseus. He's a familiar face in television and films from way back including "New Jersey Drive", "Get On The Bus," "CSI" and "24". "Takers" is his first screenplay. He co-wrote it with Peter Allen, Avery Duff, and the film's director, John Luessenhop ("Lockdown"). Casseus is also co-executive producer along with Chris Brown, Morris Chestnutt, and Glenn Gainor.

That said, ain't nothing sexier than a group of intelligent, good looking men getting things done! And in "Takers" that sexiness rolls off the screen and makes popcorn and a Slurpee taste even better! Well mine at least!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Spike Lee Talks "If God Is Willing And The Creek Don't Rise" & BP Oil Spill

It's 9:30am on a Saturday morning. Any other weekend morning I'd be at home sleeping or lazily spooning Honey Nut Cheerios to my mouth while watching The Golden Girls on DVD in bed. But this particular Saturday morning found me at the Beverly Hilton Hotel lobby waiting to serve a higher purpose. My calling for the day? To interview acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee about his return to New Orleans five years after Katrina and his new documentary, "If God Is Willing And Da Creek Don't Rise."

9:45am A few coffee-deprived journalists and myself are led upstairs to what I thought would be a large conference room as per usual. Imagine my surprise as we were ushered into Lee's hotel room to sit cozily around a coffee table as if were old friends. Cards anyone? He warmly greeted us all but what got my immediate attention was a carafe of cold orange juice I swore called my name. Dreaming of pouring myself a glass, I almost missed my cue to introduce myself!

"Hi, Alice Fuller, online, Hollywood As I Live & Work!" Once the introductions were done, we immediately began the interview. For about 30 minutes or a little longer we talked not only of the making of "If God Is Willing And Da Creek Don't Rise" but also the politics behind the BP Oil Spill, Obama's public approach to catastrophe, Brad Pitt, Black folks "going green", and of course Michael Jackson.

Become the invisible person in the room by pressing play then share what you hear and see here via email, Twitter, Facebook, and yes, old school word-of-mouth. Then set the DVR to record on August 23rd & 24th, HBO, 9pm or 8pm central time. And if you can make it to Brooklyn a few days later this month, head to Prospect Park for Spike's Michael Jackson celebration, August 29th. Shahmone!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Universal Music Launches Icon Series with Janet, Erykah Badu, & More

SAY YOU HEARD AND SAW IT HERE FIRST! The OFFICIAL word will blaze the internet MONDAY. So you're getting the inside scoop 2 DAYS ahead of the crowd! Thank me by commenting and supporting the artists!

August 31st Universal Music Enterprises (Ume) will launch a new series of albums featuring the greatest hits and fan favorites of some of the most iconic artists in music history, thus its name--the Music Icon Series! Thirty artists from different genres ranging from R&B to country are included. And of course you can't have a roster of musical icons and their hits without including Miss Janet Jackson and her bad-ass self.

If you're thinking, "Wasn't this done already?" let me explain. This new Universal release is one disc of music hits. Janet's 2009 release was a 2-disc compilation featuring new song, "Make Me." Secondly, this upcoming album features 12 global #1's and the title single, "Nothing", from Tyler Perry's, "Why Did I Get Married Too?" And third, this CD is part of an entire series of great music under the Universal umbrella. But who cares about all that! Cop this release anyway HERE!You never know when you'll need some emergency Janet music at work, in the car, or on your way to the beach.

Erykah Badu fans, raise your damn ankhs up! Twitter's @fatbellybella is in da Icon Music Series building! On and on and on and on, Badu's cypher still keeps moving like a rolling stone. And in this series, the Badu icon album includes, of course, "On and on", and other fan favs "Bag Lady", "Honey", plus collabos with The Roots and Common.

Sorry, there will be no controversial nude-protest video with this one, but hopefully "group thinking" will lead you to get this compilation too when the Icon Music Series drops on August 31st. That said, there's no need to worry 'cause Erykah know that she got me!

Some of the other artists in this Icon Music Series include Patsy Cline, Hoobastank, Etta James, and KISS. And a few of my personal R&B favs are The Jackson 5--remember MJ's birthday is two days earlier on the 29th--James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, & Diana Ross and the Supremes. All the albums include 12 tracks, and some artists--Patsy Cline, KISS, Marvin Gaye, Styx, The Temptations, and Don Williams--actually have 2-disc CDS in the series.

For the entire list of artists, release updates, and other info fan and follow the Icon Music Series on Facebook and at Twitter's @ICONseries. And remember the official word will be made public Monday and the official Music Icon Series release date is August 31st.

This has been a Hollywood As I Live & Work EXCLUSIVE report! Share with it friends and even some enemies! Thanks You Know Who!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Ready or Not Here She Comes...Lauryn Hill Is Back Or Is She With "Repercussions"?

"Ready or not, here I come...gonna find you and make you want me!..."

Lauryn Hill
...the voice, the singer, the actress, the lyrical MC, the poet, the look...she seemingly had the entertainment world in the palm of her hand. Then right when her career was nearing its peak, the soulful Gemini child closed her palm and seemingly walked away from it all, all the entertainment world had to offer--the money, the glitz, the glamour, the fame. Why? My guess, to save her soul.

She's been gone a minute, (for you Hip-Hop slang challenged that means a long time!) almost as long as Sade, but ever now again she'd make an appearance. Remember the surprising Fugees reunion in "Dave Chappelle's Block Party"concert and then again in the opening of the 2005 BET Awards? After that she disappeared again. Actually, it was backstage of that particular BET Awards show where we met. Is there a story to tell from that meeting? Sure! Will I share it in this public forum? Nope! Truly, it's nothing bad nor terribly gossipy, just an interesting observation. Honestly, I think Talib Kweli's, Ms. Hill expresses it perfectly.

So after a few stops and false starts it appears Lauryn is back officially. A new release called "Repercussion" has the internet buzzing and there's vids of recent live performances. But first appearances can be deceptive. Is the soulful, songstress ready to be back in the spotlight, back in the grind of the entertainment machine? I sooo hope so, if only for a little while!

Lauryn was and I suspect still is "the truth" as an artist. She made you feel, made you think, made you rush to the VCR (then) to press record when she was performing.  She inspired me, had me thinking I could sing! Well, backgrounds at least LOL! She painted a picture where "Hip Hop meets scripture" in "Tell Him", a love song to God more than a man, from 1 Corinthians 13.  Yeah, people complained she was too preachy, but whose anticipating those haters' comebacks?

I want her to come back successfully if only to show these microwaved artists and label executives that "music is suppose to inspire, so how come we ain't getting no higher" and that "you can get the money, you can get the power, but keep your eyes on the final hour." So listen to "Repercussion", a title that probably has more meaning that we know, and tell me what you think.

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