BN-W eNewsletter #97

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BN-W/EDUCATE-EMPOWER FIFTH YEAR ANNIVERSARY   

FILM (Studio) RELEASED N-WORD BNW Says… DVD?
Dance Flick
(Paramount Pictures)
5/22/09 YES BS NO
Next Day Air
( Summit Entertainment)
5/8/09 NO Mediocre NO
Fighting
(Rogue Pictures)
4/24/09 YES BS NO
Obsessed
(Screen Gems)
4/24/09 NO Mediocre NO
The Soloist
(DreamWorks/Universal)
4/24/09 NO Worthy YES
American Violet
(Samuel Goldwyn Films)
4/17/09 YES Worthy YES
Fast and Furious [4]
(Universal)
4/3/09 NO Mediocre MAYBE
[TP] Madea Goes to Jail
(Lionsgate)
2/20/09 NO Mediocre MAYBE

Today marks the fifth year anniversary of Ban the N-Word – now known as BN-W/Educate-Empower.   It’s been a wonderful five years that not only includes what we think are informative eNewsletters but also the BN-W “Imagery & Its Power” presentations, which our audiences – from the young to the young at heart – continually say educated them on something they were never aware of and/or empowered them from a different perspective.

While we strive to keep the fundamentals intact, we always enjoy adding something new.   Therefore, in celebration of this wonderful milestone, we are introducing an at-a-glance chart format for our film monitor, which gives our readers all the pertinent facts up front.   This new format also provides BN-W’s one-word overview of the film and BN-W’s opinion on whether a film is worth the dollars to purchase the DVD.  Our three overview choices are:   BS, Mediocre, Worthy.  The usual and necessary film details (actors, writers, directors, producers, executive producers) as well as the film notes will still appear farther down in each eNewsletter.  In fact, see those relevant details for these eight films below.

And of course the BN-W Resource Directory is always available for information and research purposes.   For videos, writings, and more of some of the top e ducators and scholars visit BN-W: Educators.   For links on activists and politics, visit BN-W: Politics.

In closing out this shortened anniversary edition, we will also kickoff our letter-writing campaign, which we will have more details on in the next eNewsletter and which we hope some of our readers will participate in.

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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 – or at all – 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) :

Dance Flick

Starring Damon Wayans Jr., Shoshana Bush, Essence Atkins; screenplay written by Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Craig Wayans, Damien Dante Wayans; directed by Damien Dante Wayans; produced by Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Rick Alvarez; executive produced by Richard Vane, Craig Wayans, Damien Dante Wayans; studio – Paramount Pictures/MTV Films

Wayans Brothers Productions received $25 million to make this film, which had an opening weekend of about $10.6 million.   If only they had the knowledge to do really powerful films with their moviemaking, but the best they can do is to keep coming up with scripts that spoof other bad comedies.   It’s hard to imagine all these brothers and their sons and nephews sitting around and collaborating just to create . . . . Dance Flick.   They’re doing stuff by choice that entertainers before them had no choice in doing.   This film is not funny.   And as has become the Wayans Brothers custom, they resort to their usual homosexual references – somebody in that clan needs to either come out of the closet or go ahead and act on his homoerotic fantasy.

Next Day Air

Starring Donald Faison, Mike Epps, Wood Harris, Mos Def, Omari Hardwick, Darius McCrary, Cisco Reyes, Yasmin Deliz; screenplay written by Blair “Butta” Cobbs; directed by Benny Boom; produced by Inny Clemons, Scott Aronson; executive produced by Bruce McNall, Bryan Turner, Shaun Livingston, Steve Belser, Steven Markoff; studio – Summit Entertainment

Lightweight comedy crime caper that had a $3 million budget, which means the $9.2 million it’s made to date makes it a success.   Although heavy on the cursing, it is fairly entertaining in a very silly and clumsy kind of way (do these criminals really think $150,000 will last very long, especially if you buy a Cadillac Escalade?) with an unlikely ending.   Normally a film like this would be loaded with the N-word, but based on the filmmakers’ wise decision NOT to use it, this film’s fortunately an N-word free viewing.   While the DVD is not on the BN-W purchase list, we did support it at the box office based on their responsible decision:   No N-Word .

Fighting

Starring Terrence Howard, Channing Tatum, Brian White; screenplay written by Robert Munic, Dito Montiel; directed by Dito Montiel; produced by Kevin Misher; executive produced by Andrew Rone, Lisa Bruce; studio – Rogue Pictures

Weak script where quite a few speaking scenes that should have been scripted seemed totally ad-libbed.   Although he’s a gifted actor, Terrence Howard is still on a downward spiral with his film selections.   This film shows none of his capabilities.   His standout role is still the character he portrayed in The Best Man .

Obsessed

Starring Beyonce Knowles, Idris Elba, Ali Larter; screenplay written by David Loughery; directed by Steve Shill; produced by Will Packer; executive produced by Glenn S. Gainor, Mathew Knowles, Beyonce Knowles, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, David Loughery, Damon Lee, Jeff Graup; studio – Screen Gems

Not much to say about this film except it’s no Fatal Attraction.   Idris Elba and Ali Larter play their parts well although why Elba’s character was written in such a numbskull kind of way is disappointing.   Beyonce Knowles is trying very hard and her effort and desire can’t be denied, but she’s still got a long way to go before she can be taken seriously as an actor.   But you can’t doubt her (or perhaps her father’s) business savvy because she’s listed as one of the executive producers on this film that to date has grossed nearly $67 million.

The Soloist

Starring Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr., Lisagay Hamilton; screenplay written by Susannah Grant; directed by Joe Wright; produced by Gary Foster, Russ Krasnoff; executive produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Jeff Skoll, Patricia Whitcher; studio – DreamWorks Pictures/Universal Pictures

Well done film with quality acting by its leads Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. who tackle the very serious topics of mental illness and homelessness.   Not many people are ready for topics like this, especially at the movies where many individuals look to break away from stress and prefer the comfort of laughter and/or lightweight and predictable action flicks.   While this film is none of that, for those not familiar with mental health issues, it gives a fair gauge of the highs/lows and challenges/highlights of dealing with someone who is mentally ill yet physically capable.   To date, this film is nearing the $30 million mark and still in the top 12, which is no small feat considering its topic.

American Violet

Starring Nicole Beharie, Alfre Woodard, Charles S. Dutton, Xzibit, Tim Blake Nelson, Will Patton, Michael O’Keefe, Anthony Mackie; screenplay written by Bill Haney; directed by Tim Disney; produced by Bill Haney; executive produced by Peter Newman; studio – Samuel Goldwyn Films

Excellent film!   It was in very limited release but when available the DVD is definitely worth purchasing.   This film is about racial profiling and putting innocent people in prison with trumped up charges, exorbitant bails, and then forcing plea bargains or extreme jail time on them.   It’s based on the real life story of Texas resident Regina Kelly who was arrested in this bogus raid in 2000!   Yes, 2000!   For more, read the film review by Kam Williams and read this shortbackground piece with Kelly by Cameron Turner.   All of the actors did a really effective job, but Nicole Beharie and Anthony Mackie were standouts.   Beharie will be performing in Suzan-Lori Parks’ Off Broadway production of Father Comes Home from the Wars which begins June 5th at The Public Theater in Manhattan.   To see this up-and-coming actress and find out more about the play, visit this link .

Fast and Furious

Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster; screenplay written by Chris Morgan; directed by Justin Lin; produced by Neal H. Moritz, Michael Fottrell, Vin Diesel; executive produced by Amanda Lewis, Samantha Vincent; studio – Universal

Farfetched, unrealistic, and of course totally Hollywood race car driving scenes, but very entertaining nonetheless.   Vin Diesel and his one liners are getting very tired especially since he really doesn’t have that much of the so-called “cool” factor.   There’s also promotion of lesbian encounters, which men surely love but impressionable young girls might think that’s the normal or in thing to do to be accepted.   Do you think people would be as nonchalant about this if these casual intimacies (hugging/kissing) in the film were between men?

Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail

Starring Derek Luke, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Tyler Perry, Viola Davis; screenplay written by Tyler Perry; directed by Tyler Perry; produced by Tyler Perry, Reuben Cannon, Roger Bobb; executive produced by [Not Listed]; studio – Lionsgate

To date, this film’s grossed over $90 million.   Madea lovers proved that Tyler Perry will be donning that dress for a while to come.   That’s not a thrilling thought in the BN-W camp and Perry has also stated he wishes his core fans (churchgoers) were not so addicted to the Madea character.  As with all Perry’s movies, audiences walk away with some positive messages, so this film gets credit for that on multiple levels.   Unfortunately, there are too many reminders of the over-the-top stage play performances as well as his current television shows.   Yes, the shows are doing well and viewed by many and the plays are often sold out, but as we all know that doesn’t mean they are top of the line or topnotch.   Do we really need scripts with comments like “that Afro is thirsty”?   For now, however, we’ll keep supporting the brother because he doesn’t use the N-word and overall he promotes many positive aspects of Black life and love that not enough people in his position choose to do.   He and Oprah Winfrey are also behind the upcoming Lee Daniels film, Precious, which is another reason to continue supporting him; he takes on issues many Blacks don’t want to acknowledge exists in our communities.

BN-W Monitor Coming Soon :  “Imagine That” [Eddie Murphy, Yara Shahidi]; “The Taking of Pelham 123”[Denzel Washington, John Travolta, James Gandolfini]; and more…

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

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