Music Movie Family how goes things? I want to first take a moment to encourage anyone reading this, who lives in NY or LA near select theaters, to go see Fruitvale Station this weekend! The film opens nationwide Friday July 26, and next Friday here in the Philly area, but is playing in select theaters in those states listed as of the 12th. You can see which theaters are currently showing “Fruitvale Station” at http://www.fruitvalefilm.com/pages/buy-tickets, and check back here next week to read my interview with writer/director Ryan Coogler.
Now, on to some very surprising and cool news! MusicMoviesThoughts was acknowledged by fellow writer Pat Garcia with a nomination and subsequent win for the Versatile Blogger Award! Pat is a wonderfully insightful writer, and I take many inspirational tidbits from her site. She also is a huge supporter of MMT and, as she currently resides in Germany, often leaves wonderful comments about music and film recommendations she has received from this site. Make sure to check her out, and give her a follow, at garciaanddigitaltechnology.com.
So the rules are, once you’re nominated, you must also nominate other great bloggers you follow and list 7 things about yourself. As to the former, I nominate the following:
My FAVORITE film of all time is Sparkle (1976) starring Irene Cara and Philip Michael Thomas
I love to cook and entertain friends
I love gardening
I love Dance Central 2 on Xbox (I kill “The Breaks,” LOL!)
I have Multiple Sclerosis and am an advocate and supporter of MS Awareness
Alright Pat Garcia, I’ve disclosed enough so look for your pop quiz on Twitter ;). Okay MMT family, remember to support “Fruitvale Station,” click on any of the charity links above for more information, and check out those freelance writer recommendations given. Lastly, thanks to everyone for your continued support of this site. And if your on Facebook, take a quick second and like the new MusicMoviesThoughts page!
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! 🙂
And the winners are: Carla Wallace, Tanya Covington, Shlonda Jones, Tamara Holland, and Nakia Stokes!
For those who didn’t win, I pray you still go check out the movie opening weekend (August 17th -19th). You can find out more about the film Sparkle and view the trailer at the official website (see link below).
What’s new Music Movie Lovers! I am very excited to announce that MusicMoviesThoughts has partnered with Allied-THA to offer you a chance to win a pair of passes to see Sony Pictures Sparklestarring Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks, and Derek Luke. The film also stars the very talented Mike Epps, and features Tika Sumpter, Carmen Ojogo, Omari Hardwick and Cee-Lo Green. For a chance to win, make sure you’ve signed up to follow this blog (and look for the confirmation email to complete the sign up process). You can increase your chances by also following me on Twitter @ledfarr. I will randomly select and post names of winners on Friday, August 10th to receive passes to attend the Philadelphia (PA) screening on Wednesday August 15th.
I will post a review after the movie’s national release date (August 17th); but those who follow me know that the original 1976 version of Sparkle is my ALL TIME favorite movie, so you can check out my initial thoughts (from last October) about the remake at this link Sparkle Remake Ready To Start Production. You can also check out the official website for a synopsis and to view the new movie trailer at http://www.sparkle-movie.com/site/. Good luck family! 🙂
Are you anticipating the release of the Sparkle remake like me? Do you live in the Philly, PA tri-state area and like to sing? If you answered yes to both, or at least to the second question and are curious about the new Sparkle movie, read on below for a chance to win a spot on BET’s 106 & Park plus additional prizes. And make sure to be on the lookout in August for a special movie screening opp!
Good luck and stop back by and leave a thought if you audition!
Until next thought, Thomasena
SPARKLE Singing Challenge
The SPARKLE Singing Challenge is a nationwide challenge and will be held in Philadelphia on Saturday, July 14th at the Cheltenham Mall. Registration begins at 12pm and the competition begins at 2pm. Entrants will receive the opportunity to sing a 60 second part from the songs “Celebration” or “Something He Can Feel,” from the late Whitney Houston’s upcoming film, SPARKLE. Please click on attached flyer below to enlarge for more information.
Entrants will be competing for a $500 cash prize, along with a $25 BEBE gift card, and a chance to win the Grand Prize. The Grand Prize winner will win a trip for 2 to New York City to professionally record a song with the Punch Monkeys producer & writing team, a Myspace homepage feature and a chance to appear on BET’s very own, 106 & Park! Head to www.myspace.com/Sparkle for official contest rules and 60 second clips of both competition songs. To pre-register, entrants can email SparkleSingingChallengePhilly@gmail.com.
The official trailer for the film can be viewed here:
For weeks I have been making references to this year’s Grammy award show. Never could I have imagined that many would be tuning in this evening to pay collective homage to one of the greatest singers of our time – the one, the only, THE VOICE, Ms. Whitney Houston, who passed away yesterday at age 48. Like other people to whom I’ve spoken, I am still in shock from the news of her untimely passing. I literally watched CNN for hours last night, trying to make sense of it all by listening to the video tributes, the breaking reports, and remarks from colleagues and friends. But none of it helped to settle the unease I was feeling.
That unease, very much like if not equal to that which I’d felt when Michael Jackson passed, comes from losing yet another music legend I’ve adored since I was a child. You see, there is a Whitney song I can reference for mostly every major period in my life. And though I’ve never met, or even seen Whitney Houston live in concert, her music and voice are so comfortably familiar it is quite hard to imagine a life without her. Even more disheartening, I was anxiously awaiting the première of the Sparkle remake, which I anticipated to be a huge vehicle for her return to film; and if early reports of Whitney’s phenomenal performance are accurate it most certainly would have been. And speaking of film, Terry McMillan can just stop the press as far as bringing Getting to Happy, the sequel to Waiting to Exhale, to the big screen. I mean, how can we accept anyone else but Whitney Houston returning as Savannah?
Ken Erlich, Grammy’s executive producer, reported to CNN last night that Jennifer Hudson would be performing the tribute to Whitney Houston on tonight’s show. Like many of her contemporaries, Jennifer cites Whitney as one of her biggest influences and I remember how excited she was when Whitney presented her with the Grammy back in 2009. I’ve also read that Chaka Khan will be doing a tribute, but am not certain how accurate those reports are. It would make sense that Chaka Khan would be allowed to do so, considering Whitney sang backup for her as a teen and paid tribute to Chaka at the end of her cover of I’m Every Woman.
I cannot even begin to touch all that Whitney Houston accomplished in this post and do it fair justice. I really cannot believe that I am writing this about her at all. My prayers and heartfelt condolences go out to the Houston family, especially to her daughter and mother. I share the You Tube link below for Whitney’s My Love is Your Love video in which she boldly sings “if I should die this very day, don’t cry, ’cause on earth we wasn’t meant to stay. And no matter what the people say, I’ll be waiting for you after the Judgement Day.” I will miss you Ms. Houston. Rest in Peace.
So, since last post I’ve been thinking about how remake crazy our culture appears to be. I’ve had this conversation with friends and other creative folks, and often I hear someone make the statement that “we’ve just run out of original ideas.” Is it that simple an explanation? And is it a bad thing to remake a movie or cover a song if you can add something relevant to, invigorate, or dare I say improve the original? I would answer with a resounding NO and I would like to share some of my faves to support. Since this is such a broad topic, I’ve decided to focus on music in the key of Motown, and share a few examples of what I think are perfect song covers (I’ll touch on movies in another post :)).
I will start with the Heavyweight of Soul himself, Mr. Luther Vandross. Luther was a master at taking decades old songs, re-arranging them and turning them into instant classics. Who can forget his version of the Temptations hit Since I Lost My Baby? Luther made the melancholy song sound so sweet, and sang it so beautifully, I forgot how sad the lyrics were. On to the next Motown cover, have you ever heard Chaka Khan’s version of the J5’s Got To Be There? Like Chaka’s voice it really is beyond accurate description, so just take a listen below and let me know what you think. Sidebar: speaking of Chaka Khan, did you see the film Standing in the Shadows of Motown and hear her cover of What’s Going On with the Funk Brothers? Again, take a listen with the link below because it’s so (add your own word here) I won’t even try to describe.
I once heard Tony Bennett say that Stevie’s version of his song For Once In My Life was the best cover he’d ever heard. I mean Stevie took an old slow tempo standard and revamped into a funky R&B hit complete with harmonica solo. Another sidebar: Stevie also took a mid-tempo tune he’d written as a teen for the late Tammi Terrell, All I Do Is Think About You, and updated it as the upbeat All I Do (with Michael Jackson, Eddie Levert, Walter Williams and Betty Wright all contributing background vocals) on his Hotter Than July LP. Yep, that’s right I said MJ. Take another listen you’ll catch it :). See below for a link to the once rare Tammi Terrell version.
Lastly, I can’t mention Motown covers and not talk about Philly’s own Boyz II Men and their version of It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye ToYesterday. Boyz II Men successfully took a very nostalgic song, and anyone who’s seen the movie Cooley High knows what I mean, and made it their own. And talk about invigorating, with their a cappella remake the song peaked at #1 and #2 on the Billboard Hot R&B singles and Hot 100 charts respectively (compared to peaking at #38 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart when originally released).
What are some of your fave remakes? I know I stuck to a specific period and genre, but are there more recent covers that you consider classics? Share your comments and let’s discuss. Until next thought, Thomasena.