What The Flick | BET.com http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick Fri, 25 Jul 2014 05:37:27 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 Movie Review: ‘Lucy’ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-lucy/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-lucy/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 04:00:59 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7661 (Photo: TF1 Films Productions)

(Photo: TF1 Films Productions)

Don’t you hate when you are enjoying the first 15 minutes of a film and saying to yourself, “This is going to be good!” Then, the movie takes an odd turn to the left, completely goes off course and you’re soon thinking, “When the hell is this going to be over?” That is the best way to describe Luc Besson’s Lucy. Yes, the debunked myth of “humans only use ten percent of their brain capacity” is an interesting premise for a film, but the idea quickly gets lost in being a cerebral life lesson rather than entertaining. Don’t expect a fun femme fatale flick like the Underworld franchise or 1993’s Point of No Return.

Despite a great start and the presence of the always-excellent Morgan Freeman, Lucy suffers from a deadpan script packed with laughable dialogue, harebrained (even for sci-fi) scenarios and an awkward performance from Scarlett Johansson, who stars as Lucy, a young woman caught up in corrupt deal with well-dressed Korean gangsters. After ingesting a powerful drug, her senses are heightened and she becomes Miss 100 Percent.  What’s amazing about Lucy’s ability to access her full brain capacity is that she becomes less human with each second. She feels no pain, spots diseases, creates a black blob of computers complete with a stylish USB card, travels in time and all with perfect blonde trestles of hair.

Clearly, the Tony winner was doing her best to make a flat character work, which might have looked better on paper (Angelina Jolie was once attached, but ultimately dropped out of the film).  However, with eye-rolling babble and not enough sensical action, Lucy fails due to its own premise and Johansson’s zombie-like portrayal couldn’t save the film.  The good side: Lucy only clocks in 88 minutes, which is a relief considering the unnecessary, nearly three-hour epics we have today. Just when you cannot take anymore, the film swiftly ends.  With my limited ten percent brain capacity, it’s possible that I couldn’t grasp the film’s greatness … but I doubt it.  Lucy is bland on arrival.

Lucy is in theaters now.

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Movie Review: ‘The Purge: Anarchy’ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-purge-anarchy/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-purge-anarchy/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:20:22 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7650

(Photo: Universal Pictures)

Summary: It’s 2023 and the annual Purge returns with the New Founding Fathers, once again allowing citizens to “release the beast.” All crime is legal, including murder, for 12 tragic hours. A group of four (a couple and a mother and daughter) are unarmed, anti-purgers caught in the middle of the heat. While they are being hunted, a random man tries to rescue them, but can he be trusted?

Review: Last year, The Purge was a surprising hit with mostly awful reviews. The film’s biggest flaw was an interesting premise succumbing to another generic home invasion thriller. Writer and director James DeManco must have listened to the critics, because The Purge: Anarchy cleans ups the flaws of 2013, easily topping the original and is, thus far, the best thriller of the year. The Purge: Anarchy is no perfect flick, the clunky dialogue is laughable at times and audiences will need an extreme suspension of disbelief. But, for its genre, the movie is a suspenseful joyride with surprisingly witty commentary.

The heart of the The Purge isn’t violence and guns, it’s governmental greed. “Purging” isn’t to “release the beast” — it’s population control. Every year, the economy benefits from the 12 hours of crime, with the poor suffering the most. In the original, race was never explicitly stated. This time around, the poor, mainly brown folks cannot protect themselves like the rich. “Hunters” go to the “ghetto” to snatch up victims that the rich can torture and kill for a hefty price. Class and race are interestingly tackled with the victims embodying the terror of living through the Purge.

A sign of a good thriller is when you ask yourself: What would I do in that situation? The Purge: Anarchy leaves you with that eerie feeling long after the movie ends.

The film stars Frank Grillo as Sergeant, but in the way of Liam Neeson in Taken, he dodges every bullet and solves every catastrophe. He is a trite plot device that viewers have seen a million times on screen — but someone needs to attempt to save the day. The characters you truly root for are Jeffrey Wright’s wife Carmen Ejogo, who plays Eva Sanchez, a struggling single mother who is caring for her sickly father. Also, Zoë Soul, who plays Eva’s daughter, a quick-mouthed teen who is equally annoying and enjoyable. Soul shined in her role and showed the potential of having a big career beyond thrillers. Plus, Michael K. Williams stars as Carmelo, a revolutionary who believes purging must end. The strong characters help to mask plot holes and impossible scenarios.

The Purge: Anarchy is a rare case where the sequel is better than the original. Expect moviegoers to purge their dollars at the box office this weekend.

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Oscar-Winning Film Black Orpheus Coming to Broadway http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/oscar-winning-film-black-orpheus-coming-to-broadway/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/oscar-winning-film-black-orpheus-coming-to-broadway/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 14:36:09 +0000 smundhra http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7644 Black Orpheus is heading to the Great White Way. The Rio de Janiero-set film, which won the Best Foreign Language Academy Award in 1960, is being adapted as a Broadway musical by heavy-hitters George C. Wolfe and Lynn Nottage. The former is a Tony-winning director and the latter a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer.

The original film, a retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in modern-day Rio, is credited with bringing the bossa nova craze to the United States. The story centers on a couple who fall in love during Carnevale and are forced to take a mystical journey to the underworld.

“We are so thrilled to bring this classic piece of Brazilian popular culture to life onstage,” the show’s producer Stephen Byrd said in a statement. “The World Cup is providing a wonderful international platform for Brazil right now, and we look forward to further spotlighting this legacy on Broadway.”

We know the music and art direction of the Broadway adaptation of this hedonistic tale will be a feast for the senses, and we can’t wait to see who might be cast in the leading roles.

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Tony Nominee Mary Bridget Davies Rocks B.B. King’s http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/tony-nominee-mary-bridget-davies-rocks-b-b-kings/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/tony-nominee-mary-bridget-davies-rocks-b-b-kings/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 22:00:45 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7635

(Photo: Joseph Marzullo/WENN.com)

Soul singer Mary Bridget Davies proved once again why she deserved her Tony nomination for playing Janis Joplin in A Night With Janis Joplin on Broadway last night at B.B. Kings in Manhattan. One of her first performances since Janis closed, Davies showcased her range, style and humor beyond what she brought to the stage as the blues legend who passed away at 27 years old in 1970.

Singing over 20 songs, Davies belted out everything from Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” to Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings “100 Days, 100 Nights,” to Porgy and Bess to Etta James.  There aren’t many performers who could do justice to those diverse of singers, but Davies blessed each song with ease and soul.  The over 90-minute set list was one that many Billboard charting hit-makers probably couldn’t endure. Davies owns a colossal, one-of-a-kind vocal strength that balances between classic and current.

The Cleveland-born singer is also someone who isn’t afraid to share the stage with another powerhouse vocalist — blues and Broadway singer Sabrina Elayne Carten delivered a whopping version of Aretha Franklin’s “Today I Sing the Blue.  The Bronx native is a powerhouse — and worthy of a Google search if you’re not familiar with her work.

Hopefully, fans of blues and soul music will get the proper exposure to Mary Bridget Davies. Her passion transcends Broadway, blues, male, female, Black or white.  Mary Bridget Davies is performing again at B.B. King’s Blues Club in New York City on July 7, July 28 and August 11.

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Madonna Attends Preview of Tupac-Inspired Musical ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/madonna-attends-preview-of-tupac-inspired-musical-holler-if-ya-hear-me/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/madonna-attends-preview-of-tupac-inspired-musical-holler-if-ya-hear-me/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 13:30:03 +0000 smundhra http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7627

(Photo: Courtesy of Holler If Ya Hear Me)

The upcoming musical inspired by the lyrics of Tupac is drawing an A-list crowd even before it opens. Madonna, who was friends with Pac and allegedly dated him before his untimely passing in 1996, attended a preview showing of the Broadway musical, directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon.

The Material Girl brought her latest 20-something boy toy Timor Steffens as her date, and sat in the third row. Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur, also a producer of the show, was also in attendance.

The musical officially opens Thursday at the Palace Theatre. It uses several of Shakur’s songs, including “Dear Mama” and “Keep Ya Head Up” to tell an original story about two young men dealing with life and tragedy in a Midwestern industrial city.

The preview coincided with Tupac’s birthday. The rap icon would have been 43 this year.

Get ready for the BET Experience, featuring Mary J. Blige, Maxwell, Jill Scott, A$AP Rocky, Rick Ross and many more. Click here for more details and info on how to purchase tickets.

Go here for a chance to win a VIP trip to Las Vegas for you and your friends!

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Mary Bridget Davies and Beth Hart Performing in New York City http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/mary-bridget-davies-and-beth-hart-performing-in-new-york-city/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/mary-bridget-davies-and-beth-hart-performing-in-new-york-city/#comments Thu, 05 Jun 2014 18:56:37 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7617

(Photos from left: Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions, Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

A serious case of the blues is coming to the Big Apple. Mary Bridget Davies, who earned a Tony nomination this year for her dynamic portrayal of Janis Joplin in A Night With Janis Joplin, will be performing at B.B. King’s Blues Club in New York City on June 23, July 7, July 28 and August 11. Unfortunately, Janis closed in February, but I still maintain it was one of the best musicals of the year … maybe Broadway couldn’t handle all that ballsy soul.

On Broadway, Davies ripped through Joplin’s classics like “Piece of My Heart,” “Cry Baby” and the rhythm and blues torch epic “Ball and Chain.” If you missed Davies as Janis, this is your chance to experience the Tony nominee live on stage.  Click here for more info.  The show won’t just be Janis Joplin covers, Davies will perform other blues classics as well. We are rooting for Davies to grab the Tony this Sunday, June 8 (check your local listings)!

Janis Joplin’s influence continues on June 23 (sold out!) and June 25 at the Highline Ballroom with the Beth Hart Band.  The Los Angeles native landed one of her many “big breaks” when  she played Janis Joplin in Love, Janis off-Broadway. Hart is also known for her hit song “LA Song (Get Out of This Town)” and she brought the house down at the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors with her performance of “I’d Rather Go Blind” in tribute to Buddy Guy.  Most recently, Hart was nominated for a 2014 Blues Award in the category of Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year. A set by Hart — who rarely performs in the States — is a show not to be missed.  The June 23 show is already sold out, so act now for the June 25 show.  Click here for more info.

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Movie Review: ‘Godzilla’ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-godzilla/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-godzilla/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 14:00:40 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7603

(Photo: Warner Bros Pictures)

Godzilla is a global icon but the franchise was never known for great filmmaking. With roots in Japan, the whale-meets-gorilla monster is famous for cheap special effects and awful overacting. Nonetheless, the film Godzilla is nostalgia and the 2014 reboot attempts to capitalize on the legend’s fan base while going for a Hollywood blockbuster. That said, from the 1998 version to 2014, Godzilla fails to translate to today’s audience.

Directed by Gareth Edwards and written by Max Borenstein, the Warner Bros. film kicks off with the stellar acting chops of Bryan Cranston, who plays Joe Brody, a nuclear physicist. He loses his wife in 1999 in what people assume is an earthquake. By 2014, Brody is obsessed with the conspiracy theory that Japan’s government is hiding the truth. His adult son (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), frustrated with his father, doesn’t believe the conspiracies, until the truth is in front of him. It’s the basic characters we see every year in action films: a hero, his distraught wife, a lost child and random people who disappear as quickly as they appear on screen. The emotions between the characters felt as artificial as the CGI-zilla.

The first hour overflows with back-story, random monsters and asking the person next to you, “When will Godzilla show up?” As most will complain, it takes Mr. Zilla an hour to finally roar on screen. Yes, a full hour. Imagine if you went to see the latest movie starring Kevin Hart and he didn’t grace the screen until after the first hour. Clearly, the audience would be disappointed.  However, Edwards and Borenstein made a conscious decision for G-Zilla to be tardy for the destruction.  When he finally breathes fire and knocks down buildings, the wait sucked out the interest.  But Godzilla in 2014 doesn’t bomb because the king of monsters is fashionably late. With uninteresting characters, predictable scenarios and mediocre special effects, Godzilla would be a dud even if he showed up in the first ten minutes.

It’s been sixty years since Godzilla made its first appearance on film in 1954. Hollywood, it’s time to let Godzilla rest. His work here is done.

Godzilla is in theaters now.

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Review: ‘Lady Day’ on Broadway http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/review-lady-day-on-broadway/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/review-lady-day-on-broadway/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 04:00:33 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7586 (Photo: Joseph Marzullo/WENN.com)

(Photo: Joseph Marzullo/WENN.com)

When an actor portrays a well-known figure in American history, usually there are similarities. Dorothy Dandridge and Halle Berry had uncanny similarities, both physically and as Black women who broke barriers at the Academy Awards. Mary Bridget Davies as Janis Joplin in A Night With Janis Joplin is a blues singer and resembled the late, great rocker. But there are no such commonalities between Audra McDonald and Billie Holiday, which is why McDonald’s performance is 90 minutes of the most transformative work you will see on Broadway this year.

Audra McDonald is a mezzo-soprano, Julliard-trained Broadway singer. Billie Holiday had a thin voice with a small range, and her training was the do-or-die School of Hard Knocks.

McDonald was born in Berlin and raised in sunny Fresno, California. Holiday was born in Baltimore and lived much of her life in the rough streets of New York City.

Audra McDonald is one of the greatest successes in the history of Broadway — she’s won a record five Tonys. Billie Holiday is one of the greatest tragedies in American music.

It’s no secret the 43-year-old is an acting and singing beast, but when it was announced McDonald would play Holiday, many critics and fans of Broadway thought the casting was a stretch — even for Audra’s great range.  They should have known better than to doubt Miss Audra. She delivered yet another performance of a lifetime. But this is what Miss Audra does… she gave a performance of a lifetime in 2012’s Porgy and Bess, another performance of a lifetime in 1996’s Master Class and even the meanest of critics praised Audra McDonald’s performance in the panned, live version of the Sound of Music. The woman is a freak of performance nature.

From the first note (for a moment I thought she was lip-synching to Billie as a tribute of some sort), McDonald snatched up ever fiber of Billie’s being. The tone, the grit and the specific vocal distinction of Holiday was astounding to hear from another human being that wasn’t Billie Holiday.  Give Audra her sixth Tony.

Beautifully written by Lanie Robertson and directed by Lonny Price, Lady Day takes place at Emerson’s Bar and Grill in 1959 Philadelphia. Staged as a small venue concert and backed by a three-piece band, McDonald opens the show by stumbling to the stage in all her Billie glory, ironically dressed in a white gown and gloves. It’s the last four months of Holiday’s life, fresh out of jail for drug possession and singing in a town that she hates — Philly.  McDonald owns every piece of the stage and strolls through the audience to smoke cigarettes and refresh her drinks with straight gin — no chaser.

Less is more in Lady Day: the show is fittingly set with a small stage and tables for the audience privileged enough to land floor seats. The lighting is an eerie, almost smoky mist, channeling the beat-up Philly bar. Between each song, there are hilarious, disturbing and raunchy stories of Holiday’s epic life. Everything from how she fell in love with music to enduring racism in the Deep South to her tragic family to becoming an addict. With a drink and cigarette, the monologues are filled with n-words, f-bombs, b—–s and other obscenities that surprisingly save the show from the morbid. As sad as Holiday’s life story was, the superb storytelling in Lady Day found a way — like so many people — to present the laughter through the tears. You make do with what you got and don’t worry about what you don’t got.

Lady Day conquers great musical numbers, showcases the brilliance of Audra McDonald and accessibly tells the story of Holiday. Most importantly, the production recaptures the truth of Billie Holiday, who was born Eleanora Fagan. This is not the glamorous Diana Ross version from 1972. Billie was a boozing, chain-smoking, foul-mouthed, uniquely politically-charged broad who believed in telling the truth with no shame. Lady Day is as close to the real Billie as we will get.

The 15 songs included jazz and blues classics like “Crazy He Calls Me,” “Pig Foot (And a Bottle of Beer)” and “T’aint’ Nobody’s Business If I Do.” Audra woke Billie up from the grave when she poured her soul in “God Bless the Child” and “Strange Fruit.” However, it was a shock to not hear Billie’s other signature songs like “Good Morning Heartache” and, of course, “Lady Sings the Blues,” which could’ve easily been swapped out for the lesser known numbers.

Billie Holiday was about the feeling.  Whether it was misery or happiness, no one finessed emotions like Lady Day.  She influenced every artist from Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin.  Therefore, what makes Lady Day soar is the feeling.  A feeling that stays with you long after you leave the Circle in the Square Theatre. Billie Holiday is surely raising a glass in jazz heaven.

Lady Day is currently playing at Circle in the Square on Broadway.

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Movie Review: ‘Transcendence’ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-transcendence/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-transcendence/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 04:00:46 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7570

(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Johnny Depp disappointingly returns to the big screen in a flick that is destined to sweep the Razzies — Transcendence. Directed by Wally Pfister (his directorial debut), the film cannot transcend its weak sentiments, implausible scenarios, unlikable characters and painfully boring pace. The only truly transcendent element of the film is how Johnny Depp, now 50 years old, transcends all signs of aging!

Transcendence starts off promisingly with commentary on a world obsessed with social media and technology. We are all connected and disconnected. The idea is nothing original — you can read ruminations on the ills of our society on any random Facebook status — but for an alleged sci-fi thriller, it’s expected that the 120 minutes running time will be a joy ride. Not at all. Outside of Depp’s ageless beauty, Transcendence is another example of how A-list is not always the best.

Depp plays Dr. Will Caster, a prominent researcher in Artificial Intelligence who believes we all “create a God.” After his unexpected death, his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) uploads his brain, which manifests a digital but dangerous version of Dr. Caster. He must be destroyed, as should everything he created. But the doctor fights back and the rest of the film all leads up to the one-liner, “We’re not going to fight them. We’re going to transcend them.” This “fight” happens an arduous 90 minutes into the epic 120 minutes. By this time, the audience is trying to transcend sleep.

Scene after scene, Transcendence stumbles with a troublesome script and unlikable characters. One epic low is Rebecca Hall’s character having a Lifetime movie moment, arguing with digitized Johnny Depp about her emotions — things aren’t what they seem! He is controlling her! She wants out. The theater busted out in laughter.

There are small roles with Morgan Freeman and Cory Hardrict. But even with a solid cast and the high-profile direction of Pfister, the film is a dud on every level of filmmaking. In one scene, Freeman gives Rebecca Hall a note that reads: “Run from this place!” If I could transcend time, I would hand the cast and crew a note that says: “Run from this movie!”

Transcendence is in theaters now.

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First Look: Trailer For James Brown Biopic “Get on Up” http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/first-look-trailer-for-james-brown-biopic-get-on-up/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/first-look-trailer-for-james-brown-biopic-get-on-up/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 14:00:07 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7559

(Photo: Universal Pictures)

A biopic on music legend James Brown has been in the works for the better part of three decades, and at long last the film is here. The first trailer for Get on Up, starring Chadwick Boseman as the king of funk, dropped this week and shows a sweeping portrait of Brown’s rough childhood growing up in a whore house, to his rise to fame. One of the most influential musical artists to ever live, Brown’s sound and signature style has impacted everyone from Prince and Michael Jackson to Justin Timberlake.

Get On Up is directed by Tate Taylor, whose debut film The Help was the sleeper hit of 2012. The Help’s Octavia Spencer also stars in the film, and makes an appearance in the trailer. Boseman, who came to notice with his moving portrayal of Jackie Robinson in the 2013 drama 42, looks to be the perfect choice to play Brown.

Check out the trailer for Get On Up below. The film hits theaters on August 1.

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