Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 12:00 am.
We are all channel-surfing through the several films that show up during Black History Month. In case you are looking for a story you haven’t heard, please be sure to check out Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, which is directed by Bennett Singer.
Bayard Rustin is a legendary civil rights activist who worked alongsideDr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and helped plan the 1963 March on Washington. Rustin was also the force behind the non-violent movement, but he was shunned by many and nearly erased from American history. This groundbreaking documentary humanizes the life of Rustin with archival footage, interviews with the closest people in his life and commentary from scholars.
You can watch the film in full over at Logo — click here. You can also go to rustin.org for more info on Bayard Rustin.
Published by Clay Cane on Friday, October 2, 2009 at 1:23 am.
The documentary of Michael Jackson’s tour, This Is It, is in theaters October 28th. Tickets went on sale this past Sunday and according to E! the movie is outselling some heavy hitters.
Fandango said the concert movie was its new top-seller, ousting The Twilight Saga: New Moon. MovieTickets.com said it had already recorded more than 550 sellouts. And to put a global point on it, Sony Pictures bragged about big business from Britain to Japan.
This Is It opens Oct. 28, if you don’t count sneaks on Oct. 27. Sony says the movie, culled from rehearsals for the late Jackson’s not-to-be London shows, will play only two weeks.
This is no shocker and the early footage we have seen of the concerts looks like he was more than prepared for the tour. In addition, it’s an excellent way to honor his musical legacy.
Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 8:57 am.
Summary: The story of five young Black men from Akron, Ohio, who captured the nation’s attention with their journey from the inner-city to winning a national high school basketball championship. Featuring LeBron James, the celebrity of the group, the documentary traces the life of each player and their coach.
Review: A movie about five boys making it out of the hood via basketball could’ve easily went down cliché lane. Fortunately, the director, Kristopher Belman, focused on individual stories and let basketball play a secondary role. Whether you are a basketball fan or not, the journeys of these men are more interesting than any three-pointers on the court.
Every member of the “Five Fab,” as they were called, has a tale to tell and with confessional interviews, exclusive archival footage and raw emotion, the audience gets an intimate look at the lives of these young men. Issues of identity, poverty, abandonment, failure and athleticism all come to the surface in a way that is rarely shown in African-American men. More Than a Game showcases a bond of boys to men that was not hyper-masculine or contrived through a diatribe of street credibility. From a battered gym to seven years later as the Fighting Irish basketball team at the predominately White St. Vincent–St. Mary High, the five young men became a support network — something every young person needs if they are dealt more than a handful of adversity.
The doc is standard in its delivery, but isn’t as basic as a random sports special. More importantly, in the way that Valentino: The Last Empire was enjoyable without knowing fashion, More Than a Game transcends the world of sports. While LeBron James is clearly the main attraction and it’s interesting to see him open up when he is notoriously guarded, even if the Cleveland Cavaliers star wasn’t a well-known sports figure, More Than a Game would be equally as inspiring; the movie stands on its own.
The documentary ends on a high note, and if it wasn’t a true story it would be sappy and unoriginal (I could do a list of all the bad sports movies that torture us with the same ending). But, this is the truth. For a story that starts with poverty, abandonment and, in many cases, no way out — it’s inspiring to see these kids found their own route to success.
Ironically, basketball wasn’t what made them successful. It was through this circle of consistency and dependability as young boys that made them a success — with that type of support you can ride above your circumstances whether you aspire to be a doctor, lawyer, or sports player — overall, deeply inspiring. That said, for every young kid who sees More Than a Game and thinks they are the next LeBron James — it should be mandatory to watch 1994’s Hoop Dreams.
Published by Clay Cane on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 12:00 am.
There are many people who helped to mold the life of President Barack Obama and one is his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. The Kansas native have birth to President Obama when she was only 18 years-old but still managed to get a bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. in anthropology. Obama once said, “the dominant figure in my formative years… The values she taught me continue to be my touchstone when it comes to how I go about the world of politics.”
Sadly, Dunham would pass away in 1995 of uterine cancer.
The Hollywood Reporter says a documentary on Dunham might be coming to the big screen:
Aloe Entertainment, along with IMG and Schroeder-Ptacek Prods., are bringing the story of Barack Obama’s mother to the screen, readying a feature-length doc to be directed by Charles Burnett.
“Stanley Ann Dunham: A Most Generous Spirit” will show how Dunham raised a young Obama in Indonesia and Hawaii as well as her pioneering work in the field of Third World microfinance, which assists small entrepreneurs, mostly women, in developing countries.
“She gave a lot of the backbone to our current president and his compassion to the people,” said Mary Aloe, who is executive producing. “With these small-scale economies, she took a concept that was emerging just as women were getting their rights and got them to think outside the box. She is a fascinating woman, and she was ahead of her time.”
Stanley Ann Dunham with a young Barack Obama
The project will begin shooting early next year in Indonesia, Hawaii and Washington.
The production is in talks to secure Obama’s involvement.
Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 8:02 am.
Summary: A documentary about one of the most controversial figures in sports history, former heavyweight champion of the world, Iron Mike Tyson. Directed by James Toback and produced by Carmello Anthony and Nas, the film chronicles Tyson’s tumultuous life through archival footage and interviews with the legendary boxer.
Review: Nowadays, it’s tough to do a solid documentary with the popularity of reality shows. It takes a good director, clear vision, an enigmatic personality and unapologetic honesty—Tyson has all of those elements. The documentary tracks Mike Tyson’s life as a young boy on the volatile streets of Brooklyn to gaining international fame and infamy. It takes a brave man to reveal and speak honestly about a fall from grace that is just as famous as his rise to stardom. Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Clay Cane on Friday, April 10, 2009 at 12:09 am.
The former heavyweight champion of the world, Mike Tyson, is releasing a documentary about his controversial and complex life in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, April 24th. The film, which is already getting rave reviews, opens up about everything from his childhood, marriage to Robin Givens, his rape conviction, drug abuse and the end of his boxing career. The movie had such an impact at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival that the boxer received standing ovations from critics and audiences.
Finally the film, which was directed by James Toback and produced by Carmelo Anthony’s Krossover Entertainment, will be released.
Published by Clay Cane on Monday, March 30, 2009 at 12:00 am.
A few months ago Madonna released a riveting documentary about HIV/AIDS in the African country of Malawi called I Am Because We Are. The movie gives graphic details about the suffering of children in Malawi who are orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Madonna is barely shown in the documentary, which brilliantly tells the history of Malawi, why HIV/AIDS spreads, but still highlighting the beauty of the people.
The controversy has started again. Although many people have adopted from Africa and across the globe, Madonna is getting biting criticism. She is accused of using fame and money to override Malawi’s government. Some argue although Mercy’s mother died at 18 and her father is nowhere to be found, the child should remain in Malawi with her own people. According to reports from The Sun, which is a London tabloid, Mercy’s grandmother spoke out against the adoption.
After seeing the documentary I Am Because We Are I am confused why anyone would oppose a child being handed a good education and all of the opportunities one could dream of. The best way to fight poverty is education.
When the legendary pop star adopted David some insisted she should adopt a second child from Malawi so David could have a sibling — now some are saying she is wrong for this. Is this racism and classism that people are so infuriated that a White American woman is adopting an African child from the second poorest country in the world? If this were a Black celebrity would anyone care? There is a hearing scheduled today for a Malawi Court to consider Madonna’s request for adoption.
Published by Clay Cane on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 12:01 am.
In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s there were many music movements taking over the world. Grunge rock, “gangsta’” rap and one movement that was just as important, yet didn’t receive mainstream attention: The Good Lifers movement. They were a group of talented Los Angeles teens giving a different option for hip hop from the popularized west coast gangsta style. Communing at The Good Life Health Food store from 1989 to 1995 for open mic night, their talents attracted attention from Lenny Kravitz, Fat Joe, Ice Cube and even Shannen Doherty of “90210” fame. Many artists were signed, all on the verge of massive success—however, it never happened.
The documentary about the Good Lifers, “This Is The Life,” hits DVD today. Critically acclaimed, the film, directed by Ava DuVernay, was the winner of Audience Awards in Toronto, Los Angeles and Seattle. At first, one might think, “Another documentary on hip hop?” But, “This is The Life” gives a fresh, introspective look at teenagers who challenged the pop standard all through creativity, talent and passion. This little-known musical movement is humanized with the stories of artists and groups like Medusa, Figure of Speech, Pigeon John and Freestyle Fellowship; artists who never got their respect in the music industry.
“This Is The Life” includes vintage footage from the days of The Good Life, which is interesting to watch and hear. But, the real truth is when you hear the personal stories of the artists. One rapper, Peace, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, which put a halt to his career with the group Freestyle Fellowship. There is insight from the female artists such as Medusa and Figure of Speech, who gave sharp takes on gender. Most surprisingly, are the accusations that artists like Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and groups like Bones Thugs N Harmony allegedly stole ideas from The Good Lifers crew.
The documentary skillfully and honestly answers the question, “Why didn’t they make it?” Several artists were signed to labels, graced the covers of magazines, and had music videos, but still fell short of the glory. As one person explained, The Good Lifers were more concerned with just being artists rather than businesspeople. In trying to answer the question, DuVernay reveals a vicious, seedy and manipulative side of the music industry that every aspiring artist from rock to hip hop should know.
While there have been countless documentaries on hip hop, this is a story that needs to be told. After the film’s 97 minutes end, “This Is The Life” manages to restore your faith in the art form of hip hop. Maybe hip hop isn’t dead.
“This Is The Life” is available on DVD today. You can purchase at www.goodlifelove.com and it’s also available on Netflix and Indie Flix.