THE FAMILY THAT PREYS
The monitor of the film(s) listed above is farther down in this eNewsletter.
As has been for the bulk of this year, the film selections worth your time and money remain thin. Out of the seven films monitored here, there’s only one – Tyler Perry’s “The Family That Preys” – that we can encourage our readers to support financially and recreationally. Unfortunately, even Ice Cube’s “The Longshots” is disappointingly predictable, which is too bad considering his female co-stars – KeKe Palmer, Tasha Smith, and Jill Marie Jones – are worthy actors trapped in a bad script. The remaining five films are just a hodgepodge of the scrambles.
“The Women” and “Lakeview Terrace” also disappoint because of the Will Smith connection behind them. His spouse, Jada Pinkett Smith, is very unimpressive in her role as a lesbian writer in the former film. At this point, it seems as if she could be (and should be) more selective about her scripts. As for the latter film with Samuel L. Jackson as the lead, Will Smith’s production company, Overbrook Entertainment, is backing it, while Smith himself is one of the producers. With police racial profiling of Blacks a constant and all of the countless issues surrounding law enforcement run amok, how dare they portray a Black officer as the one with “issues.” Come on, now. Let’s get really real. It seems as though the Smiths are slipping into the don’t-want-to-offend mode because they’re in a certain tax/income bracket and hang out with the monied people. First, there was that horrible Hancock with Will as an alcoholic, weak-willed, clumsy, useless superhero (like no other superhero before him) and now these two misguided films coming from members of the Smith conglomerate/household. Tupac had his issues, no doubt. But Jada might need to reminisce about those days. Playing it safe – and not to offend or discomfort – is not always the way to go.
Following is a heads up on the upcoming film release of Soul Men, which is on the BN-W monitor list and is the final film made with the late entertainers Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes. According to the film’s producer, David Friendly, the film is supposed to be “completely made up.” But Sam Moore, who made the songs “Soul Man” and “Hold On, I’m Coming,” claims this film “rips off his career with Dave Prater” (i.e., Sam & Dave fame). Additionally, Moorecomplains about the free use of the N-word: “ Even when Dave and I were fighting and cursing, we never used that word,” he says. “It’s an insult to every one of us who fought in the civil rights movement.” What’s interesting is why would the backers – which includes brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein – of this film be so willing to promote this “made up” story and freely promote the use of the N-word? The Weinstein brothers are Jewish – would they also promote a “made up” story that freely promotes the use of Jewish derogatory slurs such as kike or hooknose? Why or why not? Read the full story here: Sam Moore Speaks On “Soul Men” Film Debacle. We’ll see what’s in the film when it hits the big screen.
INTERESTING WEB SITES/LINKS/ARTICLES OF THE DAY :
An excellent Off Broadway show – Fela! A New Musical – is extended through October 5th. The musical, written and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, is about the life of Nigerian musician/political activist Fela Kuti. Unfortunately, no discount link is available to share with our readers because it’s a hot show in high demand. But if you can get tickets, it’s worth the price and your quality time!
Three really powerful documentaries that we highly recommend are:
(1) FLOW: For Love of Water, which is about the global water supply and its privatization by corporations that are making billions by marketing a false image to consumers (particularly concerning bottled water), buying up water rights, and taking advantage of the water sources in poor countries. Visit the (Flow) site for limited engagements inNew York and Los Angeles and view the (Flow) trailer. Also read/view the Democracy Now! interview with filmmaker Irena Salina here: DN-Flow
(2) Disappearing Voices: The Decline of Black Radio is written by radio personality and social activist Bob Law. This film goes into the history of Black radio and its powerful impact on the ability of Black people to organize and communicate when it was in its heyday in comparison to what we have today, which is a monopolization by a handful of owners (such as Clear Channel and Emmis Communications) who were able to gain this control through the 1997 Telecommunications Act (something that Bill Clinton also had a hand in). This film is only being shown at screenings for now, visit the (Voices) site for screening updates and view the (Voices) trailer. Also read Kam Williams review here, in which he very appropriately concludes that this film “convincingly conveys the dire prospects for …the nation in general, if the trend of allowing media giants to gobble up radio and television outlets continues unchecked.” Read the full review here: Williams review.
(3) Banished is a film written about in BN-W #83. This film details the “forgotten history of racial cleansing inAmerica when thousands of African Americans were driven from their homes and communities by violent racist mobs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.” To takeover or literally hijack land, Whites used such tactics as violence, murder, threats, deceptive paperwork, etc. to intimidate and chase Blacks away from prime and valuable land they [Blacks] legally owned and lived on. This “cleansing” happened all over the country, but the film focuses on towns in three states – Forsyth County, Georgia; Pierce City, Missouri; Harrison, Arkansas – that, to this day, remain all (or primarily) White. This superb documentary is now available on DVD. Visit the (Banished) site and view at(Banished) trailer or at YouTube. The DVD can be purchased at Newsreel.org (which has some other great offerings) or Amazon.com.
We saw the must-see “Zeitgest” film a long time ago but were waiting for the right opportunity to present its controversial – and not easily digestible – contents. Who knew we’d get handed such an almost perfect situation with the economy appearing to be in major strife and the economic bailout of deceitful companies along with their unworthy multi-million dollar bonus-receiving corporate heads. The timing couldn’t be better. This is a three-part film that focuses on religion, 9/11, and the banking industry. For those who are not ready to question the roots of religion or the mystery of whatever really happened on 9/11, then skip parts one and two. For those who only want insight into the today’s economic “crisis,” go to part three. For those who don’t like being force-fed the information thrust upon us by the Bush administration and its puppet media and know that ignorance is anything but bliss, see all three and come to your own conclusions. Here are four questions it’ll answer for you: who was in charge of all NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) operation orders on the morning of 9/11? what role do the Rockefellers, Morgans, Warburgs, and Rothschilds play in the Federal Reserve System, which is privately owned by international bankers? what’s the connection between Prescott Bush (George H.W. Bush’s father), the Nazis, and Adolf Hitler? was the Great Depression part of the banking industry’s “creation” of mass hysteria/fear about the economy? Here are two links to the film and its Web site:
On the political front, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) new President/CEO, Benjamin Todd Jealous, is starting his new leadership role on a positive note with the launching of the NAACP’s new Upload to Uplift online voter registration initiative, which you can sign onto here – print and mail the voter registration form before the October 4th deadline. We look forward to what the youngest president/CEO in NAACP’s history – he’s 35 years old – will bring to the organization, which has its NAACP centennial celebration on February 12, 2009. Visit these links for some professional and personal background information on Jealous: NAACPbiography (profile/photo); spouse – Lia Epperson(profile/photo); and read more in their wedding announcement. With the new leadership in place – and hopefully a new direction that steps out of the box and away from the status quo – perhaps some of us at BN-W will be inspired to join this organization.
What Jealous and the NAACP are doing is important because voter suppression is still a big problem in the 21st century. As Andrew Hacker writes in his article, Obama: The Price of Being Black: “Property qualifications were ended; the poll tax was nullified; the voting age was lowered to eighteen. But now strong forces are at work to downsize the electorate, ostensibly to combat fraud and strip the rolls of voters who are ineligible for one reason or another. But the real effect is to make it harder for many black Americans to vote, largely because they are more vulnerable to challenges than other parts of the population.” Read fullHacker article. There also seems to be voter suppression efforts to block foreclosed homeowners in Michigan from voting by Republicans. There’s also lackluster and insincere support within the Democratic party for its nominee – Barack Obama. Bill and Hillary Clinton are not exactly doing any hardcore rallying for him and previous Hillary surrogates who said they would support whoever the nominee is now seem to be void of the same passion they exhibited for Hillary in supporting Obama. They are definitely not putting that same fire behind Obama – is it the “race” factor or is it something else? Knowing what disaster awaits us with a John McCain administration, this resistance to embrace the Democratic nominee – by Democrats – may best be explained by the self-described anti-racist activist Tim Wise who writes: “White privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole ‘change’ thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.” Again, is it the “race” factor or is it something else? Read the complete article Wise-BAR or Wise-AlterNet. If Obama somehow gets into the hot seat, he’s inheriting a huge mess that none of us should envy because he’ll be in a straitjacket and walking on a tightrope.
As mentioned in BN-W #54 the conclusion of Part II: Black-Jewish Relations will be included with our new bi-monthly Music Monitor. As also stated, there’s a lot of information, and, for that reason, until Part II comes out, it will be filtering out to you so it won’t be too overwhelming in the buildup to Part II’s conclusions. Refer to BN-W #53/54if you need a repeat of BN-W’s feelings on the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) dancer Abdur-Rahim Jackson was insulted by being forced to perform dance steps twice to prove he was a dancer and not a terrorist when he arrived at the Jerusalem Ben Gurion airport in Israel based on the country’s security checks of using ethnic profiling, which is often considered racist. AAADT troupe is on a six-nation tour to celebrate its 50thanniversary and Israel is its first stop. Artistic directorJudith Jamison has – not surprisingly – blown it off as hasJackson. Neither he nor the organization will file a formal complaint. Jackson also divulged some personal information: “he received his name because his father was a convert to Islam….he was not raised a Muslim, does not consider himself religious and is engaged to a Jewish woman in the troupe who has relatives in Israel.” In accepting an invitation to perform in Israel, AAADT defied the academic and cultural boycott that was formed in 2004 by a Palestinian organization: “It is awful that an internationally recognized and respected institution like the Alvin Ailey company would defy this simple and reasonable request made by fellow artists. Yet in fairness, it must be pointed out that respecting the boycott would be difficult for the Alvin Ailey group to carry out, even if predisposed to do so. Cultural institutions are dependent on the largesse of wealthy benefactors, and the good will of powerful people. If the invitation had been rejected the Alvin Ailey company might have endangered its very existence.” Read the full article by Margaret Kimberley here: BAR: Boycott Israel
As it was for apartheid South Africa, which had Israel’s support, the same type of battle to free Gaza continues in 2008 with the ethnic cleansing and occupation of Palestine. The Free Gaza organization’s mission is to “ break the siege of Gaza. We want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation.” Since Israel makes it difficult, if not nearly impossible, for humanitarians to get into Gaza by land, air or sea, they’ve been taking a dangerous journey (including being shot at) by boat in an effort to get supplies to the refugee population, including hearing aids: “ we are carrying onboard approximately 200 hearing aids that were requested by a society in Gaza for the children, because it’s not very well known, but many of Gaza’s children are going deaf because of the Israeli—the sound—the sonic booms that they constantly let off over Gaza. They actually requested 9,000. We could not arrange it in this time. We’re also carrying some urgently needed medical supplies.” Read/view the full story here: DN-Free Gaza.
Also read Breaking the Siege of Gaza by Ed Gaffney.
If you missed any other BN-W monitors, just send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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) :
T H E L O N G S H O T S
[Release Date: 8/22/08]
Starring Ice Cube, KeKe Palmer, Tasha Smith, Jill Marie Jones; screenplay written by Nick Santura; directed by Fred Durst; produced by Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez, Nick Santura; executive produced by Andrew G. LaMarca, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein; studio – MGM/Weinstein
|NONE||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : This is a film with good intentions, but ends up dull and formulaic. Tasha Smith plays a toned down and peaceful character this time around, which is noticeably different from her Tyler Perry roles. Very disappointing is to clearly see so much powdered makeup on the teenager KeKe Palmer. And the weaves and wigs have just got to stop or greatly diminish; not only do the female characters sport this tired look, but pictures of Tyra Banks, Beyonce, and Foxy Brown are shown as target practice. Director Fred Durst is the former frontman for the group Limp Bizkit.
D E A T H R A C E
[Release Date: 8/22/08]
Starring Tyrese Gibson, Jason Statham, Joan Allen; screenplay written by Paul W.S. Anderson; directed by Paul W.S. Anderson; produced by Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner, Jeremy Bolt, Paul W.S. Anderson; executive produced by Roger Corman, Dennis E. Jones, Don Granger, Ryan Kavanaugh; studio – Universal Pictures
|NONE||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : The N-word is used five times in this film through a rap song along with “motherfucker.” This film is nearing a $43 million worldwide box office gross so far, which is still short of its $45 million budget. Nevertheless, what subliminal message is being marketed to the world with such lyrics? There was no other part of that song or another song entirely without the use of that racial slur that could have been used? Of course, we know it was very much a conscious choice to use that specific hook. But why remains the bigger question. As one of the producers, maybe Tom Cruise can tell us. This film is also ridiculously violent with a story line of a for-profit prison system that does a video game format of “death racing” for high TV ratings that generate, what else, huge profits. In stereotypical fashion these days, Tyrese Gibson’s inmate character is also described as an “angry homo.”
T R A I T O R
[Release Date: 8/27/08]
Starring Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Said Taghmaoui, Jeff Daniels; screenplay written by Steve Martin, Jeffrey Nachmanoff; directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff; produced by David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Don Cheadle, Jeffrey Silver; executive produced by Ashok Amritraj, Steve Martin, Arlene Gibbs, Kay Liberman; studio – Overture Films
|NONE||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : Don Cheadle is an all-in-one confused nut in this film. He’s a traitor, double agent, snitch, religious fanatic, bomber/bombmaker, and more. This film just adds to the terrorism overkill and continues with the Arab stereotypes. 9/11 and who’s behind it is still an unexplained mystery that we’ll all know the truth about probably years from now, so films like this (co-written by actor Steve Martin) should be more balanced. One worthy issue of the film is showing the dangers of the psychological manipulation at hand when it comes to religion, whether it’s Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or any others.
B A B Y L O N A D
[Release Date: 8/29/08]
Starring Vin Diesel, Melanie Thierry, Michelle Yeoh; screenplay written by Mathieu Kassovitz, Eric Besnard; directed by Mathieu Kassovitz; produced by Mathieu Kassovitz, Alain Goldman; executive produced by Gary Ungar; studio – Fox
|NONE||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : Animal lovers stay away from this one. This is another film where organized religion is used to control and manipulate large groups of people. Vin Diesel doing a film about the chaos during the Babylonian times is okay, but how interesting would it be if he or another person of African descent did one on the great non-chaotic African dynasties of Nubia, Mali, Kush, Ethiopia or Kemet, which precedes Babylonian history by thousands of years.
T H E F A M I L Y T H A T P R E Y S
[Release Date: 9/12/08]
Starring Alfre Woodard, Sanaa Lathan, Rockmond Dunbar, Taraji P. Henson, Robin Givens, Kathy Bates, Cole Hauser, Tyler Perry; screenplay written by Tyler Perry; directed by Tyler Perry; produced by Reuben Cannon, Tyler Perry; executive produced by Michael Paseornek; studio – Lionsgate/Tyler Perry Studios
|NONE||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : Standout performances were given by Robin Givens and Sanaa Lathan, who are always excellent, as well as Kathy Bates. Alfre Woodard wasn’t at her best and the Bible-toting, religion-pushing, finger-pointing, prudish character she played just wasn’t effective; in fact, it was annoying, especially considering her character gave birth to two kids. Good film overall in typical Tyler Perry film mode. One disappointment is, once again, the lack of diversity with hairstyles for Black women. Weaves and wigs are just in overkill here too; something’s got to be done. There is some diversity added to the cast, albeit to the detriment of the Black man doing right by his family. Perry probably finally caved into the empty complaints that his films supposedly only show “ignorant” acting Whites.
T H E W O M E N
[Release Date: 9/12/08]
Starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Debra Messing; screenplay written by Diane English; directed by Diane English; produced by Victoria Pearman, Mick Jagger, Bill Johnson, Diane English; executive produced by Jim Seibel, Joel Shukovsky, Bobby Sheng, James W. Skotchdopole, Bob Berney, Carolyn Blackwood; studio – Picturehouse
|NONE||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : Another made-in- New York movie with a lot of overacting from actresses who once had the spotlight. It’s more about A woman, than THE women – and that woman is Meg Ryan who happens to be in her usual skippy/bouncy mode of acting. As already mentioned, this is not Jada Pinkett Smith’s best role materially. Her character is a lesbian, which is not a problem. But the problem is when she pushes “experimenting” with bisexuality/homosexuality. Don’t those who feel they were born gay/homosexual see this as insulting and the cause of many of the problems they face – including that they made a choice to be homosexual? Overall this film is not a good representation for the women.
L A K E V I E W T E R R A C E
[Release Date: 9/19/08]
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, Patrick Wilson; screenplay written by David Loughery, Howard Korder; directed by Neil LaBute; produced by James Lassiter, Will Smith; executive produced by Joe Pichirallo, John Cameron, David Loughery, Jeff Graup; studio – Screen Gems
|NONE||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : With centuries of institutional racism (including through law enforcement hiring practices), with racial profiling, police brutality/murder a constant in communities of African descent all across the United States even still today, and with a long history of rapes, mob lynchings, as well as “cleansings” as documented in the above-referenced film Banished, it’s astounding that Will Smith would produce and Samuel L. Jackson would star in a movie that makes the Black man the rabid, bug-eyed, and out-of-control violent “racist” who despises his new neighbors simply because they’re an interracial couple. Aren’t the highly documented facts about America’s history the complete reverse of that scenario? This film has, in effect, extreme Black paranoia that makes White racism/entitlement and institutionalized racism come off as invalid or, dare we say it, justifiable. Smith, Jackson, Pinkett Smith, now ya’ll know better. In addition to the lack of chemistry between the couple, Kerry Washington’s character is insecure enough to scheme a pregnancy while Patrick Wilson comes off as indifferent even allowing a friend to get away with a comment that he’s also trying to get a Black girl. Are Black women supposed to feel empowered by that comment? Most probably just get flashbacks of the centuries of rapes and undesired pregnancies their ancestors had to endure by White men. Again, Smith, Jackson, Jada Pinkett Smith, now ya’ll know better. The film also had the Wilson character jamming to rap music blasting in his car, something many people do, which is why the use of the N-word under such private circumstances is so scary. All these people (regardless of “race”) are being programmed with the violence and other garbage usually associated with blasting rap music spewing the N-word. Rap music is also played during scenes of violence in the film. The ending is really the coup de grace – when the White guy is aiming the gun and refuses to put it down, he’s not shot at; however, when he uses his psychological “smarts” to coax Jackson’s character into a reaction, then boom, the Black character gets shot dead. The N-word and “wigger” are used in this film. Prairie Miller writes a review of this film and describes it aptly as “inflammatory cinema.” Read her full review here: Miller review
BN-W Monitor Coming Soon : “Miracle at St. Anna”[Derek Luke, Laz Alonso, Michael Ealy]; “The Secret Life of Bees” [Jennifer Hudson, Sophie Okonedo, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys]; “RocknRolla” [Thandie Newton, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges]; “W.” [Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton];“High School Musical 3: Senior Year” [Vanessa Hudgens, Monique Coleman, Corbin Bleu]; “Max Payne”[Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Mark Wahlberg]; “The Soloist”[Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr.]; “Quantum of Solace”[Jeffrey Wright, Daniel Craig]; “Soul Men” [Samuel L. Jackson, Bernie Mac, Isaac Hayes, John Legend]; “Seven Pounds” [Will Smith, Michael Ealy, Rosario Dawson]; “The Spirit” [Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes]; “Hurricane Season” [Forest Whitaker]; and more…
Also Coming : Part II: Black-Jewish Relations; Music Monitors