Archive for "Kerry Washington"

Movie Review: “Django Unchained”

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 12:00 am.

(Photo: The Weinstein Company)

Summary: Bounty hunter King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) frees Django (Jaime Foxx) for him to point out three overseers he is ordered to kill. Quickly realizing Django has a knack for shooting, Schultz hires Django as his right-hand man. Django only agrees if Schultz will help him rescue his enslaved wife, Bromhilda (Kerry Washington).

Review: The antebellum was a heinous time in American history, yet, it is a sacred era. Anyone who touches slavery on screen will get a cynical side-eye (Beloved, Amistad, Queen). In this review, I will not argue the trite debate whether the film is or isn’t that hot-button word: racist. Racism is the Central Park Five, the execution of Troy Davis and wannabe cops who “stand their ground” to unarmed Black boys — not a Hollywood film, which is meant for entertainment and includes some of the most respected and intelligent Black actors of today. My perspective: Is Django Unchained a good or bad film?  Neither — Quentin Tarantino’s seventh film is phenomenal.

Surprisingly historically correct for Hollywood, the pre-Civil War western is a serious take on the cruelty of slavery, but not without Tarantino’s signature style: sensitive, bloody, witty, comedic and respectful in all of the right places.  The Oscar winner authentically breathes life into characters that have morphed into spectacles on the big screen over the years — from the slave master to the slave, Tarantino dug for depth.  He found a new way to tell a story that should never be dismissed. The Black characters aren’t the docile “Negros” we’ve seen in the past. These are fully realized roles and when they are unchained, the tables turn.

The casting of Django Unchained is perfect. Jaime Foxx gives the best performance of his career since Ray. Leonardo DiCarpio as Master Calvin Candie is like we have never seen him before. Kerry Washington is core-shaking, disturbingly letting out the roars of whippings and, again, not the stereotypical mammy, maid or temptress that Black women are relegated to in films about the antebellum South. Christopher Waltz as a smooth-talking bounty hunter provides much needed comic relief and the grace in which he handles King Schultz will certainly shower him with awards. But the king of the show (and the most controversial) is Samuel L. Jackson as a “house Negro” named Stephen. The fervor Jackson brought to the character is historically correct and wonderfully three-dimensional. Cry me a river to anyone complaining Jackson is playing a house Negro, see the film before judging — he is a inventive actor whose résumé speaks for itself.  Damn it — give Samuel L. Jackson his Oscar!

Over the years, Tarantino has been criticized for his use of the N-word. Well, Tarantino didn’t hold back this time around — the N-word is said approximately 108 times in the two hours and 45 minutes. Every main character spat the racial slur with the exception of Kerry Washington. While I could go without hearing the N-word ever again in movies (I love that Nicole Kidman refused to say the word in The Paperboy), as a writer, Tarantino wrote characters, not historical figures (although it is important to note the N-word was used more during Jim Crow, not the Antebellum South).

Django Unchained thunders across the big screen as a fireball of celluloid flawlessness. Part western, part Black exploitation but absolutely stunning film-making, it’s Quentin Tarantino’s greatest work since Pulp Fiction and, undoubtedly, the best film of 2012.

Django Unchained is in theaters December 25.

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Eddie Murphy’s A Thousand Words Won’t Get UK Release

Published by Smriti Mundhra on Friday, March 30, 2012 at 12:12 pm.

(Photo: Courtesy Dreamworks)

Looks like Eddie Murphy’s A Thousand Words is lost in translation. The actor’s latest film, which was a critical and commercial bomb in the US, won’t be coming to theaters in the UK. Local distributors canceled the film’s release after it’s poor showing stateside.

The film, which also stars Kerry Washington, sat on a shelf for close to four years before it got a chance at the box office here at home, but it’s $15 million performance over three weeks hasn’t exactly made up for lost time. The film is still scheduled to open in France and Germany in May.

Meanwhile, Murphy is moving onwards and, um, upwards with a new project: the Hollywood Reporter just announced he’ll star opposite Arnold Schwarznegger and Danny DeVito in the sequel to the 1988 hit Twins, called…you guessed it…Triplets. Murphy will, of course, play the third brother.

Who says what’s old can’t be new again?

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In Theaters Today: Eddie Murphy’s “A Thousand Words”

Published by Ronke Reeves on Friday, March 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm.

(Photo: Courtesy Dreamworks)

Gone are the various characters, latex and fat suits, Eddie Murphy is back on the big screen in the comedy A Thousand Words. This time out the funnyman plays Jack McCall a fast-talking literary agent who finds a Bodhi tree on his property, who soon discovers he only has a thousand words left to speak. Kerry Washington stars as his wife.

A Thousand Words is in theaters today, check out the trailer below.

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Best Films of 2010

Published by Clay Cane on Monday, December 27, 2010 at 12:00 am.

We already talked about the bad, now check out the best movies of 2010.

10. Children Of GodIf there were any faults in this movie, Margaret Laurena Kemp’s performance redeemed every moment. All I could think was – why haven’t I heard of this woman before?  Children of God is gloriously shot, each frame strikingly beautiful, despite its low budget. It’s refreshing to see an independent filmmaker who knows his craft. Unfortunately, the discipline of independent film-making has gotten lost in the age of the Internet, where anyone with web clips can claim they are a director.

9. Night Catches UsThis might be Tanya Hamilton’s debut film, but this was not a movie for amateurs. She clearly took her time and did research. A Columbia University grad, she made a movie that is leagues ahead of that of a typical first-time filmmaker.

8. AftershockAftershock is a fresh movie-going experience that people of all backgrounds can enjoy. Most beautifully, the flick honors those who lost loved ones in the tragic earthquake 34 years ago. This is not just a movie, but an appropriate memorial for such a sad moment in China’s history.

7. 127 HoursDanny Boyle and James Franco made127 Hours another reason to never lose your faith in the magic of movie making.

6. The Social Network The closest to a John Hughes film this generation will get, which is a huge compliment.

5. La MissionWithout a big budget and little promotion, the creators of La Mission brought together one of the more memorable movies of the year.

4. I Love You Phillip MorrisPresented with sincerity, not ‘fruity’ buffoonery; I Love You Phillip Morris is easily the best comedy of 2010.

3. The Kids Are All RightStarring Annette Benning and Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right has been universally praised for its deeply emotional stories mixed with real-life comedy. Regardless of your background, the superbly written film is easily relatable. The viewer walks away with teachable moments and, even though it’s cliche, realizing we are more alike than different.

2. Joan Rivers: A Piece of WorkJoan Rivers is an absolute piece of work and her revealing but hilarious documentary on her life is the best doc of the year. Rivers is a survivor in the entertainment industry and has the warrior marks to prove it.

1. I Will FollowAt every angle, I Will Follow is a hailing achievement for writer and director Ava DuVernay. If you need explosions, guns, gratuitous sex, or epic CGI, then I Will Follow is not for you. But, if you want a movie with a flawless script, passionate actors, tears and laughs that result in inspiration, then this is a must-see. This is a story that will stay with you for many days after. Without question, I Will Follow is a full dose of humanity and makes me proud to be associated with the film industry.

Honorable mentions: Waiting For Superman, Conviction, Inception

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Exclusive VIDEO: ‘Night Catches Us’

Published by Clay Cane on Monday, November 29, 2010 at 12:00 am.

Tanya Hamilton’s directorial debut, Night Catches Us, is in theaters a week from today.  Based in 1976 Philadelphia, former Black Panthers reconnect. Haunted by their pasts and the residuals of a community picking up the scraps of life after the Panthers, they are forced to face their present and their future.

The movie reunites Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington, two actors who have immense chemistry — plus, Kerry is rocking an afro!

Check out the exclusive video clip below and mark your calendars for Friday, December 3rd.

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J’Nara Corbin Guest Blogging: Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 3:25 pm.

Poetry is my second language. Prior to moving to New York, I had the pleasure of performing spoken word at Fuzzy Wednesdays, an open mic night in my hometown in Virginia. I was living my own personal version of Love Jones, all while trying to get my hands on anything written by my poetic sheroes. My introduction to Ntozake Shange was met with mild hesitation. I had heard nothing but praise for Colored Girls; however, seeing the word “suicide” in the title was quite daunting. My sheroes didn’t use words like suicide! They all would surely side with Chris Rock’s comedic satire: “If you haven’t contemplated murder, you ain’t been in love!” But, challenging myself, I began reading the tales of the rainbow and officially bowed down to Shange’s genius.

Once I heard word of Tyler Perry heading up to Harlem this past summer to shoot the exterior scenes for the film adaptation of For Colored Girls, I knew it would be a must-see flick. The movie is in theaters tomorrow, but I had a chance to get an advanced sneak peek a few weeks back. Just a few seats away was Sherri Shepherd of The View!

I was fully engrossed in the emotional commotion onscreen and the shameless sobs coming from Sherri. I wish I could remember all of the rhymes that pointed out pearls of wisdom wrapped in poetry. I do remember finally allowing my tears to fall freely while listening to Loretta Devine recite the line, “After you put my heart in the bottom of your shoe, you just walked back to where you hurt…and I didn’t have nothing.” I have been there and don’t plan on going back!

The real place to be was at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery for Tim Palen’s Living Portraits Exhibit. Janet Jackson played hostess with other ladies in the building including Kimberly Elise, Kerry Washington, Anika Noni Rose, Loretta Devine and Thandie Newton. I stood in awe surrounded by “superstars” that simply gathered as a newfound family, openly welcoming newcomers such as myself.

The conversations continued the next day during the press conference. You couldn’t help but feel the pride Tyler Perry held for the actors. Whether they played victim or villain, the reward was a red carpet premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre and a party at the Plaza! Now, there ain’t no party like a Tyler Perry party — if you don’t believe me, feel free to ask Chris Tucker, Sugar Shane Mosley, Niecy Nash, Estelle, Macy Gray or any of the countless celebs who were in the building.

All of the mixing, mingling, and media duties meshed together in a brilliant blur that left me with an even clearer picture of my future. One woman’s decision to write exquisite words that eventually became For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf is still inspiring girls of color over 30 years later. I now see that dreams may be lived out loud and revered in vivid multicolor. The sky is the limit and my rainbow will be seen in all its splendor.

For Colored Girls is in theatres tomorrow.

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Urbanworld Film Festival Opens This Week

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 12:00 am.

The 14th Annual Urbanworld film festival opens tomorrow in New York City.  Presented by BET Networks, the legendary film festival highlights independent African-American filmmakers.  This year, Kerry Washington is the ambassador with her film, Night Catches Us, as the opening night film.  I Will Follow, directed by Ava DuVernay, is the closing night film.

Urbanworld is open to the public and I encourage everyone to support Black films by purchasing a ticket.  There are over 70 films to choose from — below are my recommendations.

* HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, a 1920s-era drama set in Atlantic City at the dawn of Prohibition (series premiere) from Terence Winter, Emmy Award-winning writer of The Sopranos and Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese

* BET’s My Mic Sounds Nice, a documentary exploring the role of female rappers in hip-hop (directed by Ava DuVernay and featuring interviews by Missy Elliott, EVE, Trina, Rah Digga, MC Lyte, Yo Yo and more)

* One Night in Vegas, part of ESPN’s “30 for 30? documentary series, this film details the evening of 1996 when Tupac Shakur was shot (directed by Reggie Rock Bythewood; starring Mike Tyson)

* Kid Capri Presents: The Lionz Den, a short film about an underground rap battle in Harlem (directed by Kid Capri and Loaded Lux, starring Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, and Rakim)

* Sus, a based-on-a-true-story drama centering on the controversial British “sus” laws and their inherent racism (directed by Robert Heath; starring Ralph Brown, Clint Dyer)

* Africa Rising, a documentary portraying the grassroots movement to end female genital mutilation (directed by Paula Heredia)

Click here for more info on Urbanworld.

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Kerry Washington’s To Open Urbanworld Film Festival

Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 3:27 pm.

The 14th annual Urbanworld Film Festival, presented by BET Networks, is September 15th to September 19th in New York City.  This year a host of films will be presented like Mooz-lum (Nia Long, Evan Ross), The Inheritance (Golden Brooks, Darrin Dewitt Henson) and Night Catches Us, which stars Kerry Washington and Anthony Mackiea film I reviewed earlier this month at the New York Latino International Film Festival.  Washington has been named the festival ambassador.

Urbanworld will screen 71 films, including the world premiere of the closing night film, I Will Follow, which is written and directed by Ava DuVernay and starring Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Black Dynamite, Antwone Fisher).

Mark your calendars, all New Yorkers!  The festival is open to the public and festivals are where you get the first look at flicks that have the best writing, acting and passion — independent films require real sweat and tears.  Here is the complete festival roster:

Opening Night Selection:

  • NIGHT CATCHES US directed by Tanya Hamilton

Closing Night Selection:

  • I WILL FOLLOW directed by Ava DuVernay (World Premiere)

Narrative Feature Competition:

  • BILAL’S STAND directed by Sultan Sharrief
  • CALLBACK directed by Kartik Singh (World Premiere)
  • EVERYDAY BLACK MAN directed by Carmen Madden
  • GO FOR IT! directed by Carmen Marron
  • KREWS directed by Hilbert Hakim
  • MONEY MATTERS directed by Ryan Richmond
  • MOOZ-LUM directed by Qasim Basir (World Premiere)
  • SUS directed by Robert Heath
  • THE INHERITANCE directed by Robert O’Hara

Documentary Feature Competition:

  • BOUNCING CATS directed by Nabil Elderkin
  • FINDING GOD IN THE CITY OF ANGELS directed by J. Jessum & S. Joseph (World Premiere)
  • GROWN IN DETROIT: TEEN MOMS, URBAN FARMERS directed by M. & M. Poppenk
  • NI WAKATI (IT’S TIME!) directed by Michael Wanguhu
  • STREETBALL directed by Demetrius Wren

Documentary Short Competition:

  • JR. POSSE directed by Michele Ervin
  • KID CAPRI PRESENTS: THE LIONZ DEN directed by Loaded Lux and Kid Capri
  • LAREDO, TEXAS directed by Topaz Adizes
  • MANIFEST HOPE: DC directed by Alfred Gragg III (World Premiere)
  • ONE OF THESE MORNINGS directed by Valery Lyman
  • OUR PATH, OUR VOICE, OUR JOURNEY directed by Alex Munoz

Narrative Short Competition:

  • 44 directed by Mikal Din (World Premiere)
  • 3 FACES OF EVELYN directed by Kamali Minter
  • CASTING NOTICE directed by Marcus Thomas
  • CHAINS directed by Marcus Stokes (World Premiere)
  • CLAP CLAP directed by Tanuj Chopra
  • CLOSE directed by Tahir Jetter (World Premiere)
  • CONGRATULATIONS MR. GONZALEZ! directed by Victor Cruz (World Premiere)
  • COOKIE directed by Francisco Ordonez
  • CUTS directed by Rashaad Ernesto Green
  • EASY MADE HARD directed by Elizabeth Appell
  • EMPIRE CORNER directed by J.P. Chan (World Premiere)
  • GIMME GRACE directed by Anthony Onah
  • GOOD INTENTIONS directed by Morocco Omari
  • GORDITA directed by Debby Wolfe
  • GRACE directed by Steven Mondesir (World Premiere)
  • HARROW ISLAND directed by Anja Marquardt
  • HEAR ME directed by Kenn Michael (World Premiere)
  • KATRINA’S SON directed by Ya’Ke Smith
  • KNOCK OFF directed by Rosanne Flynn
  • MEN OR MICE directed by Kiara C Jones (World Premiere)
  • MIRROR MIRROR directed by Tamika Guishard (World Premiere)
  • MR. GRAHAM directed by Julius Amedume (World Premiere)
  • PARAMOUR directed by Maba Ba (World Premiere)
  • POSITIVE BUY directed by Hanley Valentin
  • QUIETLY directed by Cole Wiley
  • ROOS DJAJ (CHICKEN HEADS) directed by Bassam Jarbawi
  • SAY GRACE BEFORE DROWNING directed by Nikyatu Jusu
  • SILENT NIGHT directed by Red Carter
  • TAGS directed by Dominique DeLeon
  • THANK YOU FOR WASHING directed by Camille Brown
  • THE CYCLE directed by Roy Clovis
  • THE FORGIVEN directed by Lawrence Saint-Victor (World Premiere)
  • THE REAL T directed by Ohene Cornelius (World Premiere)
  • THE TROY SHAWN WELCOME STORY directed by Michael Pinckney (World Premiere)
  • THE TRUTH ABOUT LIES directed by Shalako Gordon
  • TRAIN directed by Darius Clark Monroe
  • TYPES IN STEREO directed by Gemal Woods
  • URBAN LULLABY directed by Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez (World Premiere)
  • YELLOW directed by Tony Murphy (World Premiere)
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No Blacks Make Forbes Highest-Paid Actresses List

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 12:00 am.

Forbes released their list of the highest-paid actresses from June 2009 to June 2010. There was a lil’ something missing in the top 10 — some color. No Kerry Washington, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, or even Zoe Saldana. One would think times are getting easier for Black women in Hollywood, but in 2010 women of color are still competing for financial respect in the same ways Hattie McDaniel and Dorothy Dandridge had to back in the day.

I give a big congratulations to the ladies who are the highest paid, but I can’t ignore the fact that many of these actresses haven’t had a hit movie in years — by no fault of their own, but still grossing $27 million.  Jennifer Aniston ranks number 4 on the list but has made critical and box office flops for years (2009’s Love Happens and 2010’s The Bounty Hunter are great examples).

Reese Witherspoon didn’t even release a film in 2010. She lent her voice to 2009’s Monsters vs. Aliens, but her last “hit” movie was 2005’s Walk The Line. Sarah Jessica Parker, I love her dearly, nonetheless, outside of Sex and the City, her films have consistently flopped.  Even Sex and the City 2 was a box office disappointment (debuting at number 4 opening weekend) — not reaching anywhere near the box office numbers it expected.

There is  Cameron Diaz, whose father is Cuban, however, some would argue that she is perceived as White despite her Latin heritage.  She recently said to Playboy, “Where I grew up all the Diazes had brown hair, brown skin and brown eyes, so there was a bit of ‘You’re not a Latina.’ I do identify with my culture. My dad’s first language was Spanish, but he didn’t teach it to us because he was made fun of growing up and didn’t want that to happen to my sister and me. He regretted that choice later.”

This is not to blame the actresses on the list — they are trying to make a dollar like everyone else. However, the fact that these actresses can have consistent flops for years and the powers that be in Hollywood will pay them more than a Zoe Saldana (she has eight films to her credit in 2009 and 2010!) and pay them more than women who are having bigger hit movies and working more frequently… wow!

Check out the list below.

1. Sandra Bullock: $56 million
2. Reese Witherspoon: $32 million
3. Cameron Diaz: $32 million
4. Jennifer Aniston: $27 million
5. Sarah Jessica Parker: $25 million
6. Julia Roberts: $20 million
7. Angelina Jolie: $20 million
8. Drew Barrymore: $15 million
9. Meryl Streep: $13 million
10. Kristen Stewart: $12 million


Dorothy Dandridge

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Movie Review: Night Catches Us

Published by Clay Cane on Monday, August 2, 2010 at 8:30 am.

Summary: Based in 1976 Philadelphia, former Black Panthers reconnect. Haunted by their pasts and the residuals of a community picking up the scraps of life after the Panthers, they are forced to face their present and their future.

Review: Directed by Jamaican-born Tanya Hamilton and featured at the New York International Latino Film Festival, Night Catches Us is exactly what independent filmmaking should be. No lofty special effects, no extreme violence, or gratuitous sex.  A movie that is not agenda-driven; it is about the dialogue and acting, but will still make the viewer think.

Marcus (Anthony Mackie) is accused of snitching on one of his Panther members who ends up dead. Patricia (Kerry Washington) is the widow of the slain Panther who is struggling with ghosts of the past, which is in turn deeply affecting her daughter Iris, played by an unforgettable Jamara Griffin.

In her directorial debut, Hamilton skillfully captures a transitional time in Philadelphia. Following the Black Panther movement, it is a community is in fear, not trusting the cops but not trusting the people in the neighborhood either. Using archival footage of the Black Panthers and unique imagery, Hamilton unfolds a unique story without making it a history lesson. This film is about the characters’ own transitions, not the politics.

Night Catches Us is a slow burn, smoldering through the first half. At times a bit lagging, it’s just good ol’ fashion character building, an art form that is lost in the junk food films of today.  A movie standing alone just on the script demands compelling acting, and Julliard-trained Anthony Mackie doesn’t let the audience down. Then, there is an Afro-wearing Kerry Washington in a motherly role, which we rarely see, smoothly gracing the screen.

This might be Hamilton first’s film, but this was not a movie for amateurs. Hamilton clearly took her time and did research. A Columbia University grad, she made a film that is leagues ahead of that of a typical first-time filmmaker — smartly written, beautifully photographed but with a raw edge. Plus, a booming soundtrack from The Roots helps finalize a solid film from a filmmaker with a bright future.

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