BN-W eNewsletter #86

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FILM(S) MONITORED
FRED CLAUS
THIS CHRISTMAS
AUGUST RUSH
THE PERFECT HOLIDAY
I AM LEGEND
 
THE GREAT DEBATERS

The monitor of the film(s) listed above is farther down in this eNewsletter.

BN-W Do You Know? Trivia – Do you know what historical figure the Oscar award is copied from?   Do you know the history of the “left foot forward” and the “sitting on a square” concepts?   Do you know the origins of theWashington Monument?   The Oscar statuette is copied directly from the ancient African deity known as Ptah; the two concepts also originated in ancient Africa; and the Washington Monument symbol (tekhen – renamed obelisk by the Greeks) is derived from an ancient African mythological story based on events that happened to Ausar (Osiris) in Kemet ( Egypt).   The left foot forward represented actions done while living and the right foot forward represented completion after death.   In ancient African history, sitting on a square represented honor.   In America, with very questionable and very arguably “great” presidents sitting on a square, it actually dishonors its original meaning.  Below are 10 pictures – two originals of Ptah from different angles and one of the Oscar replication; two of the left foot forward concept with the original Rameses II and the George Washington replication; two of the sitting on a square concept of the original Rameses II (at Abu Simbel in Kemet) and the Abraham Lincoln replication; and three of the tekhen (an original in Kemet, an original “given” to America and now in New York City’s Central Park [81stStreet], and the Washington, DC replication):

Ptah – Frontal View
Ptah – Side View
Replication – The Oscar or The Academy Award of Merit

Rameses II – Left Foot Forward
George Washington – Left Foot Forward

Rameses II – Sitting on a Square
Abraham Lincoln – Sitting on a Square

Tekhen (Kemet)
Tekhen/Obelisk (Central Park)
Washington Monument (Washington, DC)

[NOTE:   The originals shown in the pictures above (as well as the thought process behind them) were done and/or conceived thousands of years before the replications produced in America within the last few centuries.]

Although not officially out until December 25th, The Great Debaters is definitely the one to see upon its nationwide release!   Denzel Washington and Oprah Winfrey really put together a winner on this one.   It’s one of those films you rarely see these days and it’s one that most reviewers probably won’t push too hard because the message reflects on the historical residue left on current-day social conditions in a powerful and palpable way that we as a modern day society are supposed to be past in the 21st century – but in a lot of ways we’re not.   Based on a few reviews already written, they’ll find little incidentals (i.e., debate criteria, Harvard vs. University of Southern California) to focus on even though it’s a fictional account – not a documentary – based on a true story to make the film’s message seem less powerful because America has yet to face its pathology of racism.   The media and educational system are all heavily involved in keeping the many topics covered in this story in the background, so be prepared for the usual spin.   In a perfect world, this film should get all the accolades of Crash a few years ago, but it won’t because it digs much deeper than that film even thought about.   The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) has already named this film its first choice for the top ten films of the year.  The Hollywood Foreign Press Association – the Golden Globe Awards – has also named it as one of its nominees for the best film of 2007.   If the Academy Awards nominating committee can push a film like Hustle & Flow and give it an award for a pimp song as well as give Denzel an award for playing an N-word using bad cop (while they bypassed his unforgettable Malcolm X, Steven Biko, and Rubin Carter portrayals) and give Halle an award for the infamous sex scene with the cop who legally executed her film husband, then it should certainly put The Great Debaters on several of its lists, right?

As referenced above, based on the reviews seen so far, many reviewers/critics will focus on what they consider to be a “formulaic” script and directing style.   But most will not tell about the vast social topics this film covers, which include communism, unions, labor issues, institutionalized racism (including through law enforcement and an educational system that blocked Blacks’ admissions to state colleges), school segregation vs. desegregration (five times more money being spent in White schools), class issues (uneducated White rednecks belittling a Black college-educated man), the long centuries-old history of Black women “running from old massa” to avoid being raped and sexually harassed, White mob violence, and more.   There’s also a really powerful lynching scene in the film that everyone needs to see to get a better understanding of what thousands of Black people went through – with White people enjoying it.   This stuff happened not too long ago – in the 20th century!   Although this film covers a period of time in 1935, anyone can see how nearly 73 years later, things haven’t changed as much as they should have by now.   And considering that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was signed after a big brouhaha (including the still alive and well former president George H.W. Bush running for office on a platform against its passage), it’s no surprise that many unsettled social issues still abound and are just waiting to explode.   So in conclusion, there’s nothing “formulaic” about those issues other than the fact that they should be discussed more often and not continue bubbling below the surface.

Activist and writer Ida B. Wells wrote this famous piece – Lynch Law in America – in January 1900 and describesAmerica’s lynching this way:   “ Our country’s national crime is lynching.  It is not the creature of an hour, the sudden outburst of uncontrolled fury, or the unspeakable brutality of an insane mob.  It represents the cool, calculating deliberation of intelligent people who openly avow that there is an ‘unwritten law’ that justifies them in putting human beings to death without complaint under oath, without trial by jury, without opportunity to make defense, and without right of appeal.”  Read the full text here.

CNN recently ran a special investigative report on lynchings and racism – then and now – in America hosted by Kyra Phillips entitled “The Noose:   An American Nightmare.”   It was a really good program that can be viewed here.

I Am Legend opened at $77.2 million and is over the $100 million mark before the second weekend even begins, which is wonderful for the continued expansion of Overbrook Entertainment, the company run by Will Smith and his longtime friend and partner James Lassiter.   The main thing about this film is that it proved Smith can carry a film alone and therefore he can choose whatever lead – particularly female – he wants without the studios trying to claim he has to get this or that ethnicity to pull in more diverse demographics.   He carried this film with his star power only, so those kinds of excuses are null and void at this point.   Let’s see what happens.   Smith knows how to keep it real with a smile.   In an interview with Fandango, he’s asked by a White reporter:  “How significant is it that ‘the last man alive’ is an African American?” and his response is “First and last, baby!”   What a comeback.   Just another reason to love and root for Will Smith.

Overall, there were a number of qualitatively disappointing films this year (including Code Name: The Cleaner, Norbit, I Think I Love My Wife, Are We Done Yet?, and Who’s Your Caddy?).   Fortunately, however, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, and Will Smith are really stepping it up with overseeing quality material through their companies that make money while at the same time gaining more control over their material and building conglomerates that will take them to a higher level of ownership within this very closed and tight-knit industry that prefers to keep the power in a few select hands because not only do they control the product – but they are also able to control and manipulate theimages we see on the screen.

INTERESTING WEB SITES/LINKS/ARTICLES OF THE DAY :

For those who celebrate Kwanzaa – or may be interested in doing so – visit the official Kwanzaa site by founder and creator, Dr. Maulana Karenga.   He will also be at the New York Chapter of the National Association of Kawaida Organizations (NAKO) on December 27th for its 41st Anniversary Kwanzaa Celebration.   The annual event will take place from 6:30pm – 9:30pm at Boys & Girls High School at 1700 Fulton Street in Brooklyn, New York.   For more information call 718-398-1729 or 718-523-3312.

We wanted to share some more sites with you that offer educational tools and gifts that include and/or highlight people of African descent.   Auntie Landra’s Library is a 100% Black family owned business that’s “serving the educational and entertainment needs of Black children.”   Visit the site at Auntie Landra’s or call 1-877-7AUNTIE.  Café Urban offers a wide selection of products for those who like the powerfist, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley, and other people who’ve been down with the struggle.   Visit the site at Café Urban or call 646-441-1539.

On Oprah Winfrey’s Web site, she gets accused of playing the race card by many of her White “fans” because she’s supporting Barack Obama in his presidential bid.   Amazing isn’t it how no matter what she does for others not of her “race” (employ, gift give, promote, etc.) all it takes is a small show of support for someone who looks like her and here comes the bombardment of accusations of favoritism and race baiting.   She probably won’t get the OJ Simpson or Michael Jackson bum rush because she seems smarter, understands how to play the game a little better, and a LOT of people are on her payroll and getting paid very handsomely and making lots of money under her private entity known as Harpo.   But it’s always interesting to see what happens to the people who get that pseudo-pedestal treatment from the White establishment when they do what some – apparently – consider to be stepping out of line.  Here’s the article by Ooh Papi from Playahata.com in which her “fans” complain that Oprah “crossed a line,” “lost my trust,” and more:   Oprah Fans Play “The Race Card” On Her Web Site.

Since the topic of politics has come up, now is a good time to clear at least one of the Bill Clinton rumors.   Many people of African descent do not see him as the “first Black president” by any stretch of the imagination.   Who put that lie out into the universe?   He has done us more harm than good, including supporting the draconian drug laws that put many of our young men and women who were first time, non-violent drug offenders away for years – and thus destroying the development of many strong Black families.   He had the top political position for eight long years, so he was deeply entrenched with various political action committees – as well as so-called “ public” action committees – which means Hillary Clinton is too, especially since she’s now a Senator as well.   So, no, she will not get any votes from the BN-W organization because she’s just too ingrained into the game of politics – she’s surely a pro at the many manipulative and deceptive tactics regularly used in politics.   Cedric Muhammad of BlackElectorate.com wrote an article in 2001 about Bill and the jacked up legacy he left for Blacks, here’s the article on his record.  A report that was released in February 2001 by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice which pointed out that during Bill’s two terms (1992-2000) in office “673,000 inmates were added to the state and federal prisons.”   This 2001 report also points out a very important fact, which we see the results of today with the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling:   “ As a part of the 1994 crime bill that President Clinton signed, the U.S. Sentencing Commission – a body designed to develop and oversee federal sentencing guidelines – was directed to study the effects of these laws. In 1995, they recommended equalizing the quantity of crack and powder cocaine that would trigger a mandatory sentence. Congress rejected that recommendation, which marked the first time it had done so since the establishment of the commission. President Clinton followed Congress and signed the rejection into law.”   [Emphasis added by BN-W]   By the time he left office, he tried to clean up the huge mess he created (including giving clemency to Kemba Smith in 2000 [see more on her below]), but it was too late because the damage was already done.   The full report can be found here:   Too Little Too Late:   President Clinton’s Prison Legacy.

Kemba Smith, who received clemency from Bill Clinton on his way out the presidential door in 2000, appeared on the May 1996 cover of Emerge magazine with the headline “Kemba’s Nightmare.”   She was sentenced to 24½ years based on these mandatory sentences primarily because she was a young, naïve college student who got caught up with a boyfriend who was a drug dealer.   She recently did an interview with Democracy Now!, in which she talks about these recent rulings and her life today.   View the video and transcript, which also includes an interview with Deborah Small who’s the Executive Director of Break the Chains.   She’s also been fighting this issue for a very long time, including being a mainstay for Smith during her time in prison.   For more on Smith’s organization, visit herfoundation.

After more than 20 years of blatant and racially discriminatory disparities in sentencing guidelines for the distribution of crack (rock) cocaine versus powder cocaine, during the week of December 10, 2007, two important decisions from the U.S. Sentencing Commission and the U.S. Supreme Court may give some leeway to judges in crack sentencing as well as possibly reduce the sentences for some of those imprisoned for possession and/or sale of a small amount of crack that landed them in jail for 10, 20 or more years.   The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a decision supporting judges who rejected federal sentencing guidelines as too harsh (including for crack) and posed more lenient terms; and the Commission voted unanimously to allow approximately 19,500 federal prison inmates to seek reductions in their crack cocaine sentences.   The claims of racial injustice stem from the fact that most of the people selling and/or in possession of crack (rock) cocaine are Black, while those selling and/or in possession of powder cocaine are White and the sentencing guidelines are as follows:   possession of five grams of crack cocaine gets a five-year mandatory sentence, while it would take 100 times that amount of powder cocaine – 500 grams – to get the same five-year mandatory sentence.   Hence the 100-to-1 ratio often discussed on this issue.   Is this how and why these for-profit prison systems have been popping up all over the country?

The Bush administration is already supporting its for-profit prison business partners by staunchly stating its opposition to the fact that the Commission made its decision retroactive for the inmates.   The administration claims the release of the inmates would be a hardship on the communities where systems are not setup to receive crack offenders (most of whom have no history of violence by the way).   It’s almost a guarantee that most families would rather have their loved ones with them instead of in jail and most of the offenders will choose a different road the next time around.   Contrary to what the media try to portray, the biggest drug abusers and users are Whites and what’s also interesting is that according to a CNN article, “In previous years, the sentencing commission reduced penalties for crimes involving marijuana, LSD, OxyContin, which are primarily committed by Whites, and made those decisions retroactive.”   It’s almost a sure shot that there was no opposition from any administration to this retroactivity.   [Back to Bill Clinton for a minute, remember in 1995 he signed off on Congress’ rejection of the Commission’s recommendation to equalize the quantities for crack and powder cocaine mandatory sentencing.]   As it stands right now, only the Congress can make changes to the minimum sentencing guidelines that are currently in place – and for which they vied for 20 years ago –  so while the decisions of the Commission and Supreme Court do have an impact, Congress needs to take it to the next level if those racially discriminatory crack/powder cocaine federal minimum sentencing guidelines are to be changed legally to prevent crafty law enforcement individuals from getting “creative.”

Since this period of excessive crack cocaine sentencing, the inmate population has increased to more than two million people.   Businesspeople and politicians are profiting big time – whether it’s directly or indirectly (being able to hire family for instance).   In an AlterNet article (The Future of Cities:   How Sprawl and Racism are Intertwined), a question on the prison industrial complex is asked and following is the response:   “ The incarceration industry is the new Jim Crow; you don’t have to call him the ‘N word’ if you just call him a felon.  There are the same amount of drug problems in the ‘burbs that there are in the inner city, but in the ‘burbs the White kids get counseling, they don’t go to prison.  Generally speaking, they only call the police in the ‘hood.  The system has responded with compassion to White kids….This is the barrier that separates people from the lives they want to live.  You go to the back of the line as a felon. You lose your voting rights, can’t get a good job, you’re denied student loans….This distorts economic development.  The current economic strategy is to take poor Black kids, put them in jail in rural areas, and give poor White kids jobs as guards in that prison.  That is the economic strategy.  Rural towns can’t compete with industry, farms are all going away, so prison is an economic boon for rural communities.”

For more topics on this whole issue, visit the Sentencing Project.

In BN-W #75, we wrote about the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) 2006 Stop & Frisk results which showed that out of 508,540 individuals stopped, more than 250,000 were Black men.   Commissioner Ray Kelly with the help of the media said officers were “stopping those they reasonably suspect of committing a crime, based on descriptions and circumstances and not on personal bias.”   We said it then and we’ll say it now, yeah, okay!?!   Anyway, the Rand Report – selected by Kelly and paid for by the NYPD – has come out with its predictable results.   All that can be asked is who’s going to bite the hand that feeds it, especially a social research organization?   Here’s the Rand 2006 NYPD report (Analysis of Racial Disparities in the New York Police Department’s Stop, Question, and Frisk Practices).

There’s a lot of heavy stuff in this eNewsletter, but we took you there for a reason.   As usual, there are more studies on what and how Blacks are doing in comparison to Whites.   Both are Pew Research Center reports – one is theEconomic Mobility of Black and White Families and the other is the Blacks See Growing Values Gap Between Poor and Middle Class.   Based on all that’s written above, is it necessary to even go into detail about the whos, whats, whens, wheres, whys, and hows?   Make everything equal, fair, and balanced – and remove the institutionalized racism within education, employment, housing, government contracts, and, of course, mandatory jail sentencing   – then maybe we will all have a fair shot at getting along much better.   At this point since, as per these reports, it’s still happening anyway, a certain amount of separation might even work – as long as all resources are distributed EQUALLY.   In response to the former report, Margaret Kimberly asks the following questions:   “If a group of people were enslaved, terrorized, and legally excluded from all routes to improvement and prosperity, how would they fare? If they somehow managed to better their lot but then lost jobs, and were incarcerated in high numbers would they succeed or would they fail?  If those economic and social changes were accompanied by political and economic decisions that put more money in the hands of the wealthy, would it be possible for that group to emerge from its awful predicament?”   In response to the latter report, Anthony Asadullah Samad describes it as a “study on the hidden attitudes about the state of Black America that turn a blind eye to historical disparities…. The victimization of Blacks and their socio-economic circumstance has been historic and persistent over the past 140 years (since the end of slavery)….With the Pew Study, society, through its researchers and academicians, is preparing to validate colorblindness in the same ways slavery and segregation was validated.  Now it’s up to the black community, the most conveniently studied population, not to cosign the pathology.”

As we mentioned in BN-W #54 the conclusion of Part II:   Black-Jewish Relations will be included with our new bi-monthly Music Monitor.   As we also stated, we’ve got a lot of information, and, for that reason, until Part II comes out, we’ll be filtering stuff to you so it won’t be too overwhelming in the buildup to Part II’s conclusions.   Refer toBN-W #53/54 if you need a repeat of our feelings on the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

A person who’s very popular in entertainment news these days is Amy Winehouse, who had the very popular Rehabsong based on her personal battle with drugs and alcohol.   She’ll be in the news for a while because she was also nominated for six Grammy awards, coming in second behind Kanye West.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released its 2007 Survey of American Attitudes Towards Jews in America, which shows that the number of Americans who hold anti-Jewish attitudes has remained steady since 2005 indicating that “anti-Semitic [Jewish] beliefs endure in America.”   This survey also found that “the number of African-Americans with strong anti-Semitic [Jewish] beliefs continued to remain high and stable since 1992,” which according to ADL’s data is currently at 32% and they “continue to remain troubled and somewhat at a loss to understand why African-Americans consistently have such strong anti-Semitic [Jewish] propensities.”   That’s interesting because any of our regular readers might think Jews are anti-Black based on the information we’ve put into our eNewsletters over the past two years on the long history of Blacks and Jews.   Also, as for the word “Semitic,” that’s not a word that’s specific to Jews, it covers languages and other Semitic peoples.   The same goes for the word “holocaust” – that word is not specific to the Jewish Nazi experience.   Africans had a holocaust (during the Middle Passage and then here inAmerica for centuries); Native Americans had a holocaust when the land was stolen from them; and many other groups have had holocausts.   Semitic and holocaust are not words that can be monopolized or taken over by one group – even though the media and the educational system would have us think otherwise.

The Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiations launched in November in Annapolis, Maryland, with the goal of having a peace treaty by the end of George Bush’s term in 2008 – with bi-weekly meetings scheduled until then – will probably be unsuccessful because there’s no sincerity behind the effort.   Israel is still building settlements, there’s fighting going on in Gaza, and the building of the apartheid wall continues.   Independent Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti and Daniel Levy talk about the hindrances to peace, including the Road Map, 133 settlements, lack of Palestinian sovereignty, 562 Israeli checkpoints, 610 Israeli flying checkpoints, water usage, and much more.  Noam Chomsky also weighs in on the many issues including Bush and the rejectionism aspect, in which “he’s declared the illegal West Bank settlements must remain part of Israel.   That’s in accord with the [Bill] Clintonposition, expressed by his negotiator Dennis Ross, who explained that what he called ‘ Israel’s needs’ take precedence over Palestinian wants.   That’s Clinton.”   And Hillary would tow the same line if she were elected.   View the video and transcript of the full story here.

If you missed any other BN-W monitors, just send an e-mail to bannword2@yahoo.com and request that it be sent to you.   As always, we highly encourage you to see these films for yourself and, if applicable, make your own judgment call on the N-word usage – appropriate/inappropriate? necessary/unnecessary? sensible/nonsensical? does it add to or take away from the film’s concept? does the N-word have to be used at all? is there a valid reason for doing so? is it mandatory for the scene(s) to be effective? what are the circumstances/situation that necessitate any use of the word? is it just thrown in for humor, fear, crime, insult? are other culturally insulting slang terms used as much as the N-word in the film?   Lots of questions and a whole lot of reasons to wonder what’s the real purpose and thought process behind why these entertainers, writers, directors, producers, executive producers, distributors, and studios/studio heads and executives give the “greenlight” for these crews to liberally use (or allow to be used) the N-word.

FEATURE FILM(S) :

F R E D   C L A U S

[Release Date:   11/9/07]

Starring Vince Vaughn, Ludacris, Paul Giamatti, Kathy Bates, Kevin Spacey; screenplay written by Dan Fogelman; directed by David Dobkin; produced by Joel Silver, Jessie Nelson, David Dobkin; executive produced by Paul Hitchcock; studio – Warner Bros. Pictures

 

NONE LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]
XXXXX  

NOTE :   Very disappointing film with many stereotypes including the Black kid talking slang, acting hip, being the naughty one, and being a thief.   There was also the continued molding of the perception of the White Santa.   While there was a happy ending for a so-called disadvantaged kid, there were no Black families shown celebrating on Christmas day at the film’s end to go along with the other families shown.   Promotion of consumerism on a massive scale was just brutal.   Whatever happened to the spiritual side of the holiday?

T H I S   C H R I S T M A S

[Release Date:   11/21/07]

Starring Delroy Lindo, Idris Elba, Loretta Devine, Regina King, Chris Brown, Keith Robinson, Laz Alonso, Columbus Short, Sharon Leal, Lauren London, Mekhi Phifer; screenplay written by Preston A. Whitmore II; directed by Preston A. Whitmore II; produced by Will Packer, Preston A. Whitmore II; executive produced by Mekhi Phifer, Ronnie Warner, Paddy Cullen, Damon Lee, Delroy Lindo; studio – Screen Gems

 

NONE LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]
XXXXX  

NOTE :   Not quite as well written or directed as “Why Did I Get Married?” but it was nice to see a portrayal of a strong Black family with differences and issues but the main bond of love and unity always there.   There was also the promotion of entrepreneurship.   There was, however, unnecessary violence with Black men (gun, arrest, jail, AWOL) that was triggered due to an interracial union.   Based on the way the storyline played out with the secrecy of the relationship and the female being mistreated, the writer/director would have probably been better off using Tyler Perry’s approach of not trying to be all inclusive.   There are plenty of movies made where there are no Blacks in it, so this particular plot weakened the film because for the most part Blacks are inclusive, so the detour taken with this storyline could have been better used on developing other parts of the film, including one where a solid Black relationship was soundly and clearly established without drama and insecurity.   A female fight scene between the Regina King and Sharon Leal characters should have also been excluded because it, too, took away from the film.   It would have also been nice to see some diversity with the female hairstyles.   Other than the little girl and the men, all of the main female hairstyles were styled the same.   Overall, however, the acting was good, especially from Idris Elba, which made up for some of the flaws.

A U G U S T   R U S H

[Release Date:   11/21/07]

Starring Terrence Howard, Robin Williams, Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers; screenplay written by Nick Castle, James V. Hart; directed by Kirsten Sheridan; produced by Richard Barton Lewis; executive produced by Robert Greenhut, Ralph Kamp, Louise Goodsill, Miky Lee, Lionel Wigram; studio – Warner Bros. Pictures

 

NONE LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]
XXXXX  

NOTE :   This is truly an idealistic, syrupy sweet, corny, predictable film, but it’s okay to have something light and escapist once in while.   If you understand the difficult job of social workers and have a soft spot for troubled, orphaned or abandoned kids, especially those in foster care, group homes, homeless or independent living situations, you root for the happy, dreamy – and, yes, farfetched – ending you know is coming with this film.   Of course, this is a Hollywood movie, so you have the “blue eyes” and “little Jesus” references, the White folks able to travel and live anywhere and money’s seemingly never an issue, Juilliard accepting a student with no parental permission necessary, being able to go to New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) and get a lead immediately, and a few other peculiarities, but that’s show business and for some reason this time around it was workable.

T H E   P E R F E C T   H O L I D A Y

[Release Date:   12/12/07]

Starring Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Union, Faizon Love, Terrence Howard, Queen Latifah, Charlie Murphy, Katt Williams, Jill Marie Jones, Rachel True; screenplay written by Lance Rivera, Marc Calixte, Nat Mauldin, Jeff Stein; directed by Lance Rivera; produced by Mike Elliott, Joseph P. Genier, Marvin Peart, Shakim Compere, Queen Latifah, Leifur B. Dagfinnsson; executive produced by BTB; studio – Yari Film Group/Destination Films

 

NONE LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]
XXXXX  

NOTE :   Humdrum best describes this film, which grossed about $2.3 million its opening weekend (including a Wednesday release).   It was nearly unrealistic in terms of the overall plot.   The potential for a more developed love story between the Gabrielle Union and Morris Chestnut characters was there because there was chemistry, but the Charlie Murphy role was just unexplainable.   He acts basically the same way in every role!   One positive is that the little girl had a Black doll, which is very important.   What Terrence Howard is doing in so many small roles lately is very unclear at this point.   Queen Latifah is also choosing some weak scripts.   Last year it was The Last Holiday, this year she executive produced and brought in the writer/director for Who’s Your Caddy?

I   A M   L E G E N D

[Release Date:   12/14/07]

Starring Will Smith, Alice Braga, Salli Richardson; screenplay written by Mark Protosevich, Akiva Goldsman; directed by Francis Lawrence; produced by Akiva Goldsman, James Lassiter, David Heyman, Neal Moritz; executive produced by Michael Tadross, Erwin Stoff, Dana Goldberg, Bruce Berman; studio – Warner Bros. Pictures

 

NONE LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]
XXXXX  

NOTE :   Although Will Smith chose to pursue his passion for entertainment and not attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he inevitably still gets to utilize his interest in the sciences and technology in a very grand way by selecting films that explore those fields.   This film is totally Smith and he’s very impressive in one scene where the loneliness and lack of human contact clearly has him ready to give up.   Many of us take human contact for granted, but his tears make you empathize and give thought to how it could possibly feel to have no human contact for an extended period of time, especially if you live in a large and well-populated place like New York City.   In fact, in an interview, Smith talked about his conversation with former Black Panther Geronimo Pratt about solitary confinement and that helped him with his character’s development.   Overall, the film was a little slow at times and the creatures creepy but still entertaining.

T H E   G R E A T   D E B A T E R S

[Upcoming Release Date:   12/25/07]

Starring Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Kimberly Elise, Nate Parker, Jurnee Smollett, Denzel Whitaker; screenplay written by Robert Eisele, Suzan Lori-Parks; directed by Denzel Washington; produced by Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington, Joe Roth, Kate Forte, David Crockett, Todd Black, Molly Allen; executive produced by Harvey Weinstein; studio – MGM/The Weinstein Company

 

NONE LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]
  XXXXX

NOTE :   This film was riveting and engaging from beginning to end.   There’s been a lot of debate over the years about whether the Willie Lynch story is true or not, but the way it’s used in this film works very well.   Doing what you have to do in order to do what you want to do is also some wise advice.   One of the most profound statements in the film is the line “to be born without record” in reference to the many enslaved who had no record of their birth and the effect that has had on descendants and being able to know your history.   As with Antwone Fisher, Denzel Washington brings a lot of emotion to the film and brings out the best in the actors.   Jurnee Smollett does a memorable slap that had the audience clapping.

 

BN-W Monitor Coming Soon :  “Run, Fatboy, Run” [Thandie Newton, Hank Azaria]; “The Bucket List” [Morgan Freeman, Jack Nicholson]; and more…

Also Coming :   Part II:   Black-Jewish Relations; Bi-Monthly Music Monitors

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