Happy Saturday MMT Fam! We have a special giveaway for you today courtesy of our friend Mike D. over at Reelblack! MMT has acquired two pair of passes to next week’s screening of THAT DAUGHTER’S CRAZY, the documentary that’s been selling out at festivals across the country. “That Daughter’s Crazy,” directed by Elzbieta Szoka and produced by Paradox Smoke Productions, Sam Adelman and Daryl Sledge is a portrait of Rain Pryor, daughter to legendary comedian Richard Pryor. The Philadelphia screening and Q&A, presented by Reelblack and Painted Bride Art Center will take place on Friday July 24, 2015 at 7pm at the Painted Bride Art Center (230 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106). Tickets may be purchased in advance at thatdaughterscrazyphilly.eventbrite.com – $10 for adults; $8 for students; and $5 for seniors and Reelblack or Painted Bride members. For group rates, contact Michael Dennis at 347-709-7288.
Want to put your name in the hat to win a pair? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name in the body and the subject line “Rain Pryor.” You must be a subscriber of musicmoviesthoughts.com to qualify. Winners will be selected at random and notified by Wednesday, July 22.
You can check out the trailer for ‘That Daughter’s Crazy” below and get additional info at the film’s official website here.
Hey there Music Movie family! How has 2013 been treating you so far? Did anyone watch the Grammys or BET Honors earlier this month? How about the Oscars last Sunday night? I managed to catch all three, and a few of the other award shows, although this month has been extremely hectic for me. In addition to travelling out-of-town to finish up a book edit, I loss a very dear friend, and learned of the deaths of two others, earlier this month. Coping with the deaths of loved ones is something we all must face at some point and, while it seems quite tragic when they leave at a young age or without warning, is a reminder of the precious importance of now. What are those things in life you are passionate about but keep putting on the back burner? What is that one thing you want to do but haven’t yet stepped out on faith to attain?
Local filmmaker, Reelblack founder, and friend Mike D. (Philly Boy and Ladies and Gentleman, Jordan Rock) recently stepped out on faith and started an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds towards completion of a feature-length documentary on the state of African-American film called Black Film Now. Let me further clarify – Black Film Now will be the FIRST full length documentary on this subject, and will include rare interview footage including chats with Spike Lee, Kimberly Elise, Kevin Hart, Kerry Washington, Lee Daniels, Ava Duvernay, and Haile Gerima just to name a few. I’m excited for Mike and the making of this film and I encourage everyone reading to share and support this campaign. You can watch the video below and go to http://www.indiegogo.com/blackfilmnow to donate. Every amount counts, and for just $10 your name will be added to the end credits as a thank you for your support. How cool is that? There are 13 days left in the Indiegogo campaign, but after that you can check my blog roll (to the right) and click on the Reelblack link to get info on how to support.
Although it’s hard to understand the losses, I’m grateful for the reminder that I must appreciate now more. Thank you Mike D. for being a current example of the power of now, and for the passion you exude to bring good Black film to the masses. To Bridgette and her family, and to the memory of Karen and my dear friend Shelice, I simply say God is still in control.
What’s happening Music Movie Lovers! If you happen to live in my local area, one possible response might be “this dreary Monday, that’s what!” The sun did not shine much today here in Philly, but no worries it hasn’t dampened my spirit. And, oh how excited I am to encourage everyone to go out this weekend and support Ava DuVernay’s 2nd directorial feature film Middle Of Nowhere; which is opening in select theaters on October 12th (go to http://www.affrm.com/middle-of-nowhere/ to find theaters near you). In case you haven’t heard, Ms. DuVernay won this year’s Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival, and was the first African-American woman to achieve this feat. You can also check out the overwhelming press response for Middle Of Nowhere at the following: http://www.affrm.com/news-middle-of-nowhere/. And I’m sure many of you watched BET last Friday and Saturday for the Making Of special and the TV début of I Will Follow respectively, right? Alright, you saw Ms. DuVernay’s Don Lemon interview? Her appearance on Don’t Sleep? Well, in addition to reading this post, you can catch up tonight by checking out Ava DuVernay’s interview with Tavis Smiley (check your local listings for showtimes).
So, Middle Of Nowhere chronicles the story of Ruby Sexton (Emayatzy Corinealdi in her début big screen performance) as a woman fighting to maintain her identity, while supporting a husband who is serving an 8 year prison sentence. As mentioned earlier, this is the second feature directed (and written) by Ava DuVernay, the first film being the critically acclaimed drama I Will Follow. Another thing both films have in common is the incredibly talented (and did I mention fine?) Omari Hardwick (Sparkle, For Colored Girls), who plays Ruby’s husband Derek. Also co-starring in this film is the brilliant David Oyelowo (Red Tails, The Help) and the remarkable veteran actress Lorraine Toussaint (Any Day Now, The Soloist) who plays Ruby’s “no holds barred” mother Ruth.
I recently had the pleasure of joining a round-table discussion (see photo on right courtesy of Sharvon P. Urbannavage), hosted by Reelblack Presents and PhillyCAM, with both Ava DuVernay and lead actress Emayatzy Corinealdi, who were in Philly promoting the film. During the conversation, Ava described how she setup a private screening of the film for Emayatzy and Omari’s first viewing. David Oyelowo chose to view the film with an audience at Sundance. When I asked her how it was to see herself on-screen in her first feature-length film, Ms. Corinealdi said it was overwhelming at first, because when she was filming it is was just her and the other actors, but fun to finally see how it all came together. And the coming together made for quite a story, as Ava described the editing process (which took 14 weeks) as being her favorite. She stated that being able to look at all the shots and piece together the parts that end up in the final version is like retelling the story again, a process she very much enjoys.
When I asked Emayatzy what attracted her most to the Middle Of Nowhere script, she explained that she’d never seen this kind of story told and personally knew others that had similar experiences (significant others in prison) to her character Ruby. She also was excited about coming across a lead role, written for a woman, that displayed what she termed a “full and complete journey,” which she states doesn’t happen a lot.
Okay, so sidebar ladies. Now, I was going to use you as an excuse to ask both Ava and Emayatzy about working with Omari Hardwick (wasn’t he just dreamy as Levi in Sparkle?); but I had to tell the truth, shame the devil, and confess that the question was for me! Emayatzy described both Omari Hardwick and David Oyelowo as gentlemen, and said having both of them flanked on her side as co-stars was sort of like “you can’t tell me nothing!” (and she drew laughs around the room with that one 🙂 ). Ava described him as a great actor, who balanced bringing both strength and vulnerability to the Derek character, which she said is not an easy feat to accomplish.
I did not get a chance to see Middle Of Nowhere in its entirety, but I did get to see an approximately 20 minute preview and I am positive that this is a must see. The reviews are not just hype; as I was drawn in so deep by the end of that 20 minutes that it was hard to accept I wouldn’t immediately see more. I cannot stress enough Music Movie Lovers how important it is to not only support independent film, but to make sure you attend the Friday or Saturday showings on opening weekend. Those opening box office numbers speak volumes. If you are one of the persons who complain about not seeing enough positive characters/stories on the big screen, especially characters that are persons of color, then make your voice heard with your purchasing power this weekend. So, let’s get to it people! Middle Of Nowhere is opening this Friday, October 12th. Again, you can go to http://www.affrm.com/middle-of-nowhere/ to find out where it is playing near you and purchase tickets. I know I’m excited and I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks about the film, so stop back by and leave a thought or two ;).
Until next thought family, Thomasena
PS – for those who didn’t catch I Will Follow on BET, or don’t have BET, if you’re a Netflix subscriber you can find it! 🙂
I had the pleasure of screening the independent film, The Last Fall, last week in my hometown (Philly, PA) with an added bonus, Q & A with writer/director Matthew A. Cherry afterwards. The movie stars Lance Gross (Our Family Wedding, Meet the Browns) as a pro NFL player who finds himself cut from his team with NO prospects pending and facing retirement before the age of 30. Without spoiling the entire plot, I’ll summarize by saying this character was not a strategist, nor backup planner, and returns home to deal with his dilemma amid family and relationship drama.
At the start of the film, a quote from Sports Illustrated is shared that reads “78% of football players are bankrupt, divorced or unemployed 2 years after leaving the game.” So it’s with this premise, and his real life experience as a retired NFL player, that Mr. Cherry realizes his goal of depicting a character that humanizes and portrays the dilemma in which an obscene amount of professional players find themselves, contrary to the much hyped money, power and glitz lifestyle most Americans believe them to live. Although Matthew has the inside track, and the movie has some semi-autobiographical elements, don’t get it twisted – he is by far a man who maps and outlines his next steps. He knew where he wanted to be career wise regarding the NFL. When that didn’t happen he retired and, although he had limited work experience, hustled his way to California, became a production assistant and the rest makes for really good short documentary material. His PA credits include shows such as Heroes, Girlfriends and The Game (and if you follow my blog you know I’m a fan of both the latter) and, noting that many directors got their starts doing music videos, he built a pretty impressive directing resume writing treatments and doing videos for the likes of Kindred the Family Soul, Jasmine Sullivan, Eric Roberson and Common just to name a few.
The Last Fall, which is Matthew Cherry’s first directorial full length feature, also stars the very talented Nicole Beharie (American Violet and if you’re a The Good Wife fan like myself you may remember her character Imani Stonehouse from this past fall). The on-screen chemistry between the two leads was good, however I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this AMAZING, ah hmm, let me compose myself… if I didn’t mention that there was this sensual and beautifully shot scene with Lance and Nicole that Mr. Cherry told me was nicknamed “the evolution of love” on set. I shared with him there would be a lot of “mini evolutions” springing up about 9 months after the film was viewed by many couples ;). Also co-starring and rounding out the cast are Darrin Dewitt Henson, and veteran actors Obba Babatunde, Vanessa Bell Calloway and the extremely underrated character actor Keith David. In addition to fine acting, the film quality was visually stunning, the script was written with interesting and relatable characters, and the soundtrack is a real winner (might be all that video experience at work 🙂 ).
The Last Fall was chosen as an Official Selection for the 2012 South By Southwest (SXSW) film festival and distribution talks are in the works according to the director (he anticipates a possible Fall 2012 release). Be on the lookout for local screenings in your area and I will follow-up with info regarding the film’s national release when available. You can checkout a link below for the trailer and remember Support Independent Film!
Until next thought family, Thomasena
PS – for those in the Philadelphia area looking for a way to see more independent films, in addition to major studio film movie screenings, check out the group Reelblack at http://reelblack.com/wordpress/.
First statement about A Thousand Words, if you’re looking for fast paced action Eddie à la Beverly Hills Cop or slapstick gut busting Eddie à la The Nutty Professor then proceed to the theaters with caution. But if you are looking for a surprisingly more mature Eddie, with enough of his old funny mixed into a fairytale with an underlying story about finding one’s way to forgiveness, then A Thousand Words is for you.
Since I’m an Eddie fan from back in his SNL days, part of me wanted a little more of the “rolling in the theater aisle” comedy, but I did get to the end of the film and felt I would pay to see it again (considering many people in the screening Wednesday night did come close to “rolling in the aisle” with laughter several times, and I missed some of the movie!). But I also came to a startling revelation while screening this movie. Simply put, Eddie is getting old! Not too old to have the beautiful Kerry Washington star opposite as his wife in this movie, of course, but old like he’s not the same comedian whose stand up performances had my mother’s hair graying prematurely when she learned I’d seen – multiple times :). He’s delivered the kid friendly gems like Dr. Doolittle,Daddy Daycare, and the infamous Donkey character in the Shrek movies, survived past the box office bombs that were Meet Dave and Norbit (the latter wasn’t that bad if you ask me), and has progressed to maturer comedies like last year’sTower Heist or this most recent romp. Now this film is rated PG-13 for adult language, suggestive sexual dialogue and some drug-related humor; although Eddie may want to note that the family movie Puss in Boots took the box office over Tower Heist last November during opening weekend, and maybe a few more family gems wouldn’t hurt ;).
Okay so back to the review of A Thousand Words. The premise: a fast talking literary agent tries to sign a devout spiritual guru to a book deal, lies one to many times, and gets a curse placed on him in which he has as many words left before he dies as a tree in his backyard has leaves. Oh, and the leaves fall as he uses his remaining words. Did I mention that Eddie’s character is a married man? With a son? And a job that involves convincing people? Yep, the setup makes for perfect joke material. If I had to grade the laugh barometer, however, I would give it a B-, since sometimes I was in stitches and other times not as much, but the moral of this story is certainly A plus worthy. Biggest thrill for me: Ruby Dee also co-stars! I saw a couple of trailers before the film, most of which showed the hilarious John Witherspoon in his cameo as a blind pedestrian crossing the street beside a mum Eddie Murphy, but I had no idea the legendary Ruby Dee was also a part of this project. And do I need to say that she dominates her scenes?
This film also co-stars a very funny Emanuel Ragsdale, as Eddie’s assistant Tyler, and Cliff Curtis as the spiritual guru Dr. Sinja. It is also fairly short with a 91 minute running time, so it would make a good weekend matinée or is the perfect let’s see a quick flick after dinner choice if you’re looking for laughs and can suspend disbelief for an hour and a half.
Alright music movie lovers, that’s my weekend pick for film. Check back in if you go see it and leave a comment below with your thoughts. You can check out more of my movie picks for March/April in the previous post. Also, check out and vote in the poll below (What’s your favorite Eddie Murphy film?). Lastly, I want to give a shout out to my Reelblack movie family and to founder Mike D. for all the amazing work you guys do to promote “good movies ’bout Black folks!” For those in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, check out their website at http://reelblack.com/wordpress/ (a yearly membership is only $30 and you get to screen great films at various local theaters). That’s really all, and yep in only 721 words! True to title 🙂