Archive for "Jennifer Hudson"

Movie Review: “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete”

Published by Clay Cane on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 12:00 am.

(Photo: State Street Pictures)

Summary: After being abandoned by his heroin-addicted mother, 14-year-old Mister and his 9-year-old friend Pete endure the projects of Brooklyn on their own. Race and class intersect in this story of despair and survival.

Review: In many ways, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete is a classic tale. With the title almost sounding Shakespearean, it’s a story of childhood friends navigating the residuals of adult mistakes, forcing them to grow up at a rapid pace. Set in the projects of Brooklyn, screenwriter Michael Starrbury crafted a nuanced story with the highest of highs, the deepest of lows and enough complexities to provoke thought. For many viewers, the film might feel consistently macabre because there is no Hollywood ending.  Nonetheless, there is a bold joy in the George Tillman Jr.-directed film, which can be credited to Mister and Pete, played wonderfully by Skylan Brooks and Ethan Dizon. Their childlike innocence but adult sensitivities gave the flick an undeniable heart.

Jennifer Hudson stars as Mister’s drug-addicted mother Gloria. Next to Effie White in Dreamgirls, the performance is her best to date. There are also appearances from an unrecognizable Jeffrey Wright, Anthony Mackie and Jordin Sparks — all adding their high-profile chops to the indie flick. That said, the film is not perfect. In many scenes the storyline gets lost in its own poetry. But the direction of George Tillman Jr. and the writing of Michael Starrbury make for a solid cinematic team. In addition, the thoughtful score from Alicia Keys accentuates the  kids quirky and admirable ways to survive.  Mister and Pete see a light, no matter how dim, knowing there is something on the other side of their dire circumstances, which is a reality that resonates with many youths.

Side note: A variety of critics have sounded off on the film, but it’s important to note the version being released today is edited, shorter and includes a different ending than what was seen at Sundance.

The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete is on DVD now.

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Movie Review: “Winnie”

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, September 6, 2013 at 7:00 am.

(Photo: Ironwood Films)

Summary: A biopic on Winnie Mandela, who was known as “Mother of the Nation” during apartheid-era South Africa and was eventually labeled a corrupt political figure who condoned the murder of a child. Starring Jennifer Hudson, the film tackles forty years of Winnie’s life, including her marriage to Nelson Mandela, who is portrayed by Terrence Howard.

Review: After over two years, Winnie finally opens in select theaters today. The flick originally made its rounds at film festivals, first debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011. But critics have been rough on the Darrell Roodt-directed film, which is currently distributed by Image Entertainment. Maybe it’s because Winnie Mandela herself is such a polarizing figure, or perhaps people are skeptical of another film about the Mandelas. In addition, Winnie Mandela blasted the movie, which is an adaptation of Anne Marie du Preez Bezrob’s biography Winnie Mandela: A Life. Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife said: “I think that it is a total disrespect to come to South Africa, make a movie about my struggle and call that movie some translation of a romantic life of Winnie Mandela.” There was also discussion about the casting of Jennifer Hudson, with many questioning why a South African actress wasn’t chosen to play a South African legend.

Putting the controversies aside and solely focusing on the movie, Winnie is no masterpiece, but not nearly as bad as the early reviews. Critics argued the movie glamorized Winnie Mandela’s life and glossed over her involvement in the horrific murder of 14-year old ANC activist Stompie Moekets. Plus, the controversial Mandela United Football Club — Winnie Mandela’s violent security team. Winnie tackled these issues without demanding the audience to sympathize or hate her, the viewer is left to make their own decision. Similar to The Iron Lady, the biopic on Margaret Thatcher (a perfect example of glamorizing a woman who was not a champion for equal rights or fair pay), Winnie attempts to morph her into a feminist icon, which she is not. But there is enough balance, which biopics usually lack.

That said, Winnie suffers from an awkward script, plagued with trite biopic scenarios (she comes from poverty, meets the love of her life, becomes a star and loses everything by the film’s end). But when director Darrell Roodt avoids the clichés and touches on the complexities of Winnie, who was once revered, the film finds its lane — at least for a few frames.

Jennifer Hudson becoming Winnie Mandela was a huge task for the Oscar winner. She clearly gave her all but the role consumed her, which could be more a fault of the storyline. Yes, Hudson struggled with the accent, but more importantly, she never seemed to fully capture the essence of Winnie Mandela. There is an important transition of Winnie as an angelic figure to one of the most hated people in the nation — this is never fleshed out. One scene she is perfect, the next scene she is evil. Some finessing of the story might have resulted in a much better performance. Hudson was by no means awful, but she didn’t own the nuanced ferocity needed for Winnie Mandela. In addition, many raised an eyebrow at Terrence Howard as Nelson Mandela, but the Oscar nominee was surprisingly effective. His accent, demeanor and chemistry with Hudson as Winnie made you forget the slick, villainous characters he’s mastered over the years.

Winnie suffered many hiccups and historians will not be satisfied. The story wasn’t told as powerfully as it could have been, but one cannot deny the importance of Winnie Mandela’s tribulations and contributions to South Africa, which the film appropriately highlights.

Winnie opens in select cities today.

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David Otunga Joins Halle Berry For “The Hive”

Published by Ronke Reeves on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:07 am.

(Photo: Daniel Tanner/

Singer, actress and mom Jennifer Hudson turned into a  publicist for her fiancée David Otunga by announcing his first film role via Twitter.

“Big congratulations to my finance @David Otunga in his 1st movie role with Halle Berry in The Hive,” she tweeted.

Starring Halle Berry and, directed by Brad Anderson, The Hive is about a 911 operator (Berry) who tries to save an abducted girl. The film stars Abigail Breslin and will be produced and co-financed by WWE Studios and Troika Pictures.

That makes sense, since Otunga is a lawyer turned professional wrestler. He began his showbiz career as “Punk” on VH1’s reality series I Love New York 2.

Principal photography for The Hive is scheduled to begin this week and the film is due in theaters in 2013.

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J-Hud Talks Winnie Mandela

Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 10:22 am.

jhudThe controversy is brewing over Winnie Mandela opposing the movie on her life, which will star Oscar-winner Jennifer HudsonAs we reported on Tuesday, the former wife of President Nelson Mandela has threatened legal action.  She wants approval of the script and the creators of the biopic on her life are saying no.

At the 63rd Cannes Film Festival, CNN spoke with Hudson who said she understands Manedla’s concern but thinks once she sees the film she will be happy.  Check out the video below.

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‘Legal Threats’ From Winnie Mandela on J-Hud

Published by Clay Cane on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 8:56 am.

jhudRace, ethnicity and nationality can be major issues in films. When Jennifer Lopez was selected to play Selena in the 1997 biopic, some Mexican-American activists protested that the actress should be Mexican; Lopez is Puerto Rican.  However, once the film was released, Lopez’s performance was praised.

Argentinians protested when Madonna landed the role of Eva Perón in the film version of Evita. Some felt that a woman of Spanish background should play Eva and others were mortified considering Madonna’s racy past. Madonna won a Golden Globe for her performance.

Many in the African-American community were frustrated that Angelina Jolie played Mariane Pearl, the wife of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, in A Mighty Heart. Jolie was “darkened up” to play Pearl who is of Dutch-Jewish and Afro-Chinese-Cuban descent. Nonetheless, Jolie was specifically chosen by Pearl and the performance earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

Now, according to the New York Post, lawyers for Winnie Mandela, the former wife of President Nelson Mandela, slammed the producers of her biopic for not selecting an actress from South Africa. Furthermore, Winnie Mandela wants approval of the script.  If her demand is not granted, she will allegedly file a lawsuit to stop filming. The film is set to start production at the end of May in South Africa.

The producer, André Pieterse, said he has no plans to give Winnie Mandela script approval and stressed the story was thoroughly researched.

I’m sure it’s tough for a director to grant script approval — but can you imagine a film about your life, you’re still alive and well, and you’re told, “Butt out!”

On the issue of a South African actress playing Winnie Mandela, I think it’s a valid point, but the film, which has a $15 million budget, is concerned about the cash. They want a bankable actress — perceived cultural morality is thrown out of the Hollywood window.

I am sure Jennifer Hudson will do an amazing job.  Do you think a South African actress should be selected for the role of Winnie Mandela?

On another note, Terrence Howard will be playing Nelson Mandela …


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‘Sex and the City 2′ Soundtrack Includes Keys, Hudson and Badu

Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 12:24 am.

satc2While Jennifer Hudson will not reprise her role in the sequel to Sex and the City, she does make an appearance on the soundtrack, which is in stores May 25th (the film opens Thursday, May 27th).

J-Hud has a duet with Leona Lewis in a original song called “Love Is Your Color.”  Alicia Keys has two songs, the already popular Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down” and a remake of Blondie’s “Rapture.”  Also, in a track that I have to hear to believe, the iconic Liza Minnelli covered Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).”  Minelli sure knows how to put a ring on it — she has been married and divorced four times!

The soundtrack also included songs from Erykah Badu, a T-Pain produced Cee-Lo track and the four gals of Sex and the City doing a rendition of a “I Am Woman.”

The full track listing is below:

1. Alicia Keys – “Rapture”
2. Dido – “Everything to Lose”
3. Cee-Lo – “Language of Love”
4. Erykah Badu – “Window Seat”
5. Natacha Atlas – “Kidda”
6. Michael McGregor – “Euphrates Dream”
7. Liza Minnelli – “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”
8. Ricki-Lee – “Can’t Touch It”
9. Alicia Keys – “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down”
10. Jennifer Hudson and Leona Lewis – “Love Is Your Color”
11. Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon – “I Am Woman”
12. Sex and the City Men’s Choir – “If Ever I Would Leave You”
13. Sex and the City Men’s Choir – “Sunrise, Sunset”
14. Sex and the City Men’s Choir – “Till There Was You”
15. Shayna Steele, Jordan Ballard, Kamilah Marshall – “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”
16. Liza Minnelli with Billy Stritch – “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”
17. Aaron Zigman – “Divas and Dunes”

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‘Vanity Fair’ Cover Sparks Pale Outrage

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 2:15 am.

vanityfairIn one of the most diverse and history making years for people of color in film – Vanity Fair somehow missed the rainbow colored memo.  All over the web from urban to pop sites, folks are giving Vanity Fair the side-eye for their March issue that declares “New Hollywood.”  Sadly, new Hollywood to Vanity Fair seems a lil’ Jim Crow-ish.  The cover includes up and coming starlets like Abbie Cornish, Mia Wasikowska, Amanda Seyfried, Rebecca Hall and Evan Rachel Wood. What’s missing?  Well, despite the black letters on the cover — color is missing!

It wouldn’t have been a stretch to pull some diverse names into the mix like 2009 Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson, recent Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose from The Princess and the Frog, or one of the hottest actress in the world right now (regardless of race), star of Avatar and Star Trek, Zoe Saldana.  Leaving all of these successful names out would be like doing a story on the “new face of politics” and not including President Barack Obama!

African-American films are making more money than ever and Black stars have proven to be bankable — especially more bankable than any of the women on the cover of this Vanity Fair issue (with the exception of the girl from Twilight Kristen Stewart).  A writer from Vanity Fair described the girls with “Ivory-soap-girl features” — wow!  That sounds like something from a 19th century slave narrative!

Did Vanity Fair miss the mark or just following the lily White tradition of their magazine?

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No J-Hud in ‘Sex and the City’?

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 12:00 am.

ajhudThe gals of Sex and the City are filming the sequel and there is still no word if Jennifer Hudson will reprise her role as Louise. Hudson has said she would love to return to the set, but she has not been scene in any of the on-location shots they have popped up all over the Internet. In addition, her name is not on the movie’s IMDB page nor is the movie on her IMDB page.

I would be disappointed if Hudson didn’t return. Her character was a needed element to the movie — it also helped to see a little bit of color in the cast.

There are many spoilers running around about the film. Including that Carrie and Big go broke, Samantha suspects her cancer is returning, Miranda leaves her job as an attorney and Charlotte’s marriage is on the rocks.

Would you be disappointed if Jennifer Hudson was not in Sex and the City 2?

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J-Hud covers Essence

Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 12:00 am.

jhudessenceOn the June 2009  issue of Essence, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson makes her second appearance on the cover.  The award-winning diva opens up for the first time about her family tragedy in an article titled “This Far By Faith.”  According to Essence:

“When I’m onstage, everything kind of goes away…it’s like therapy…”

“David is very family-oriented…I love that. And he is such a gentlemen, like, I sit in the car waiting because I can’t touch the door. I am not allowed! And he is so serious and so focused, but yet, just like me, so playful. We are very similar and I just love the balance.”—Jennifer Hudson, ESSENCE (June 2009)

Jennifer Hudson was at the top of her game when the unimaginable happened last October. It was a tragedy of such epic proportions it seemed inconceivable that the Jennifer we knew—the young woman who came to embody a Hollywood fairy tale—could ever return. Here, she talks to ESSENCE’s Jeannine Amber about being back in the spotlight, the love of her life and what gives her peace.

Congrats to J-Hud for feeling comfortable enough to tell her story.  I’m sure speaking her truth will inspire others.  Also, J-Hud’s camp is still denying all pregnancy rumors.

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J-Hud pregnant?

Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, April 23, 2009 at 12:00 am.

jhudI’m always cautious to report pregnancy rumors, but allegedly “two sources close to the singer/actress” confirmed to Essence that the Oscar and Golden Globe winning diva is pregnant. Jennifer Hudson is engaged to Harvard grad and cast member of the reality show I Love New York 2, David Otunga.

The end of 2008 was a tumultuous year for America’s sweetheart, she suffered the loss of family members through violence.  However, 2009 started with her amazing performance at the Superbowl, her first Grammy and a successful tour with Robin Thicke.  If the pregnancy rumors are true, Jennifer Hudson will also be a mother.  This former American Idol castaway has truly made the impossible dream come true.  If J-Hud is pregnant — congrats!  Unfortunately, this means we might not see her in Sex and The City.

Check out her riveting performance of “The Impossible Dream,” a tribute to Muhammed Ali at this year’s NAACP Awards.

Watch more MySpace videos on AOL Video

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