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Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Hugo" Ties "The Artist" with Five Oscars; Streep Ends a Near Two-Decade Losing Streak

Despite the predictability of the evening, The Oscars honored some pretty amazing talent this evening. One of the nicest surprises came when the glorious Midnight in Paris, which took home the best original screenplay award. The Artist, the luscious silent film, garnered a slew of wins, including one for lead actor Jean Dujardin, who was so excited he reverted back to his native French at the conclusion of his acceptance speech. The film tied "Hugo," which swept most the technical awards, with five wins. The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius lovingly paid tribute to his gorgeous real-life leading lady Bérénice Bejo as he accepted his Oscar.

In another semi-shocking win, screen veteran Meryl Streep snagged the Oscar from favorite (?) Viola Davis, ending her near two-decade losing streak. As reviewed on the site late last year, The Iron Lady is certainly a flawed movie that is propelled by its performances, including Streep's. This is Streep's third win of her career (she's previously won for 1980's Kramer vs Kramer and 1982's Sophie's Choice). You have to admit, her acceptance speech was touching, especially when she spoke of her husband and longtime professional peers.

Speaking of screen veterans, Christopher Plummer won for his role as a dying gay father in the touching Beginners, and in his acceptance speech rightfully shouts out co-star Ewan McGregor, who was also great in the movie, and received the night's first standing ovation. Plummer becomes the oldest person to ever win an Oscar at the age of 82.

Another win practically everyone expected is Octavia Spencer for The Help, who also brought the crowd to their feet as she tearfully accepted her award.....So there's that.

See the full list of winners below:

Best picture

"The Artist"


Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"


Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"

Supporting actor

Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"

Supporting actress

Octavia Spencer, "The Help"


Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"

Animated feature


Original screenplay

"Midnight in Paris"

Adapted screenplay

"The Descendants"

Best foreign language

"A Separation" (Iran)

Art direction




Costume design

“The Artist”

Live action short film

“The Shore”

Sound editing


Sound mixing


Animated short film

“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”

Original song

“Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”

Film editing

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Original score

“The Artist”

Documentary feature


Documentary short subject

“Saving Face”

Visual effects


Oscar Sunday on "Cinema In Noir," with Special Guest Dorian Missick

It's Oscar Sunday on today's episode of Cinema in Noir, and we share our highlights and lowlights about tonight's Oscars. Who was snubbed? Who deserved a snub? Who do we want to win, and who do we think will win? Catch it all on today's show.

Also on the podcast, we chat with Southland star Dorian Missick, who chats about working with Regina King on the hit show, what his dream role is, and working on last year's indie darling, Mooz-Lum.

Listen here:

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Independent Spirit Awards Honor Their Top Films of 2011

In the most laid back of the award shows, the Independent Spirit Awards celebrated their top picks for the best underground movies from last year. Filled with familiar faces from big budget flicks and relative unknowns from teenier yet beloved movies, the show honored the silent film darling The Artist with four awards, including one for director Michel Hazanavicius and leading man Jean Dujardin (snagging the award from Take Shelter's Michael Shannon). Hollywood has already been placing bets that the film will sweep at tomorrow's Oscars as well.

Other honorees include Michelle Williams (her first win and fifth nod) for My Week with Marilyn, The Descendants' Shailene Woodley, and Christopher Plummer for Beginners.

In a surprising win, the underrated drama Pariah took home the John Cassavetes Award for films made under $500,000.

But, seriously, no award for Michael Shannon? The Artist is an exquisite film and Dujardin is spot-on in it, but Shannon owned Take Shelter, along with Jessica Chastain (in arguably her best performance from last year). However, it looks like the tribe has spoken.

Check out the full list of winners below:

Best Feature
The Artist

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Best First Feature
Margin Call

Best Male Lead
Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Best Female Lead
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Best Supporting Male
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Best Supporting Female
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

John Cassavetes Award for films made under $500,000

Best Documentary
The Interrupters

Best Cinematography
Guillaume Shiffman, The Artist

Best First Screenplay
Will Reiser, 50/50

Best Screenplay
Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Best Foreign Film
A Separation

Robert Altman Award for ensemble
Margin Call

Friday, February 24, 2012

Motifs in Cinema: A Closer Look at Friendships in 2011 Film

Perhaps because it’s one of the youngest artistic forms, cinema is often assessed in much different manner that literature, or the visual arts. We discuss it in terms of genre, not in terms of thematic offering. Comparing, for example, Corpse Bride and Up because they’re both animated leads to some dubious discussion especially when – like any art form – thematic elements examined in cinema and the way different filmmakers address them make for some stimulating discussion. "Motifs in Cinema" is a discourse, across nine film blogs, assessing the way in which various thematic elements have been used in the 2011 cinematic landscape. How does a common theme vary in use from a comedy to a drama? Are filmmakers working from a similar canvas when they assess the issue of the artist or the family dynamic? Like everything else, a film begins with an idea - "Motifs in Cinema" assesses how the use of a single idea changes when utilized by varying artists.--Andrew, Encore Entertainment

In one of the best movies from last year's awards season The Social Network, we saw a friendship go up in flames over a couple of dollars and a few clever math equations. But this season we've seen unconditional friendships make a much needed comeback on the big screen. Below are just a few of the movies that gave friendships a good name.


In Pariah, we see a longtime friendship between Alike (Adepero Oduye) and Laura (Pernell Walker) become strained after Alike starts spending more time and gets romantically involved with Bina (Aasha Davis), whose underground swagger and delightful sincerity attracts Alike. Feeling hurt, and as if she's been pushed to the back burner, Laura distances herself from Alike, who tries to reach out to Laura but is rebuffed. It's heartbreaking to watch this scene occur, because before then we're shown how Laura is really the only person in Alike's life with whom Alike can be her true self, someone to whom she doesn't have to pretend or hide herself from.

But it isn't until Alike is shunned by her budding love interest that she is left with no one to turn to. Her life at home has reached the epitome of discomfort, and she has nowhere to go. Once again she finds herself back on her old friend Laura's doorstep, distraught and bewildered, and this time--with just one look at her Alike's apparent dismay--without saying a word she welcomes her back into her apartment. And, just like that, they fall right back into their natural accord, absolute and bound by similar sorrow and uncanny respect for one another. It is in part due to this reconciliation and the strength of Laura's unflinching love for her as a friend--that Alike has the confidence she needs to take control of her life. As she poetically proclaims in the movie, "I'm not running; I'm choosing."


In 50/50, friendship looks a little different. For one thing, it's between two guys--Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Kyle (Seth Rogen). Though we've seen a variety of bromantic comedies grace the big screen, many of them relied on silly antics and sarcastic witticisms for a laugh. 50/50 takes that brash comical edge we know and appreciate and plays it against the backdrop of an unexpectedly heartfelt cancer drama.

Rogen, who we all know to be a goofball, strikes an emotional chord in this movie so effortlessly, it nearly capsizes you. Kyle's eternal love for his dear friend Adam in his time of need is so uncontrived and un-put on, it nearly takes your breath away. It's not mushy, and it's not overcompensating. You get the feeling that Adam and Kyle's relationship was totally unaffected by Adam's diagnosis. It was neither strengthened nor strained. It was just, present. And, in times like these, that's the most powerful friendship you can have.


The unlikely friendship between two very different women remains a highlight in the female-driven comedy, Bridesmaids. Just when our favorite self-deprecating friend in our head Annie (Kristin Wiig) hits rock bottom, she is greeted by Megan (Melissa McCarthy), her "friend" of just a few weeks, who snatches her away from her pity party with dramatic flair.

After Annie spends most the movie wallowing in her own misfortune, it only takes one military-style pep talk from her best friend's bridesmaid to help her realize not only the error of ways but what she's been missing out on this whole time. In one very candid conversation, we find out the origin of Megan's uncomfortably amazing confidence, and insight on her life as an overweight teen. She wasn't always this great, sexy vixen, but she's a fighter. That's just what Annie needed at just that time--a take no prisoners drill sergeant to snap her out of it. Everyone could use a friend like that, someone who drops the frilly act and keeps it really real with you.


Speaking of two people who really had no reason to become friends, the movie Young Adult features an unusual friendship consisting of high school peers Mavis and Matt (Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt). Though they never quite become friends in the traditional sense, the audience believes that these two share an inexplicable bond. They can depend on each other to not only be there when the other one (usually Mavis) makes a fool of him or herself, but also to exchange biting insults to one another as needed. And they are usually always needed.

See, this is how these two operate. Tough love is their cat call. It's the language they're fluent in, and it becomes their mating call. The audience cringes when these two first meet for a love/hate rekindling, but after the first hour we almost feel awkward when their relationship takes an unexpected detour. But we cannot turn away from them. They friendship, like many aspects of the movie, represent everything we're made to feel uncomfortable about in movies and in life. That's what makes it so captivating.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Peppy Miller, Wonder Woman

You know what they say—behind every man is a great woman.

And that’s made evident in the 1920s nostalgia-soaked silent film, The Artist.
Although the movie beautifully captures the difficult fall of silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) from Hollywoodland heavyweight to Hollywoodland has-been, the movie’s heart lies with his heroine, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo).

We first meet Peppy as a face in the crowd, scrambling to catch a glimpse of the one, the only George Valentin on the red carpet. Amid the glitz and glamour of the paparazzi swarming Hollywoodland’s biggest star, we see a “regular” girl. In fact, it’s Peppy’s ambiguity that sets her apart from said crowd. While all the other female fans are elbowing each other to get a chance to see their idol strike a pose on the red carpet, Peppy works her way to the front of the pack and just watches George, studying him. It’s like she sees the man behind the star, a man hidden from everyone else. A man she knocks off his feet.

That’s the thing about Peppy—it’s her authenticity that charms audiences. Unlike George’s man-made celebrity, which seduces his loveliest fans, Peppy’s unflinching compassion for those around her downright enchants the audience.

In that way, Peppy becomes George’s guardian angel. When his career begins to slide downhill, and his once marqueed name can’t even fill up a full row of seats at a theater, Peppy is the only one by his side, his number one fan when he has no one left. She picks him up when he hits rock bottom, when his pride stunts his career from forging ahead. As their careers see-saw one another, it is Peppy who remains the emotional compass throughout the entire film, the one who gets what George refuses to get.

This natural clairvoyance propels her own film ambitions. Peppy’s career skyrockets into superstardom, but, with the exception of one significant scene where she tries to play up her career by essentially downplaying those who came before her (like George), she remains unaffected by the Hollywood allure. It’s fascinating to watch a charismatic leading lady remain grounded even after her career takes off.

And it’s even more interesting to see her come to the rescue of her masculine counterpart, even if he did become a washed up star by the time of his rescuing. That’s something that would have never happened during the era the film is set in. In fact, Peppy would have more than likely have been drawn as a mere shallow competitor to George’s steadfast—however delusional—career. Since she was not written that way, it gives this wistful film the modern boost it needs to stand out.

But The Artist doesn’t just paint Peppy as George Valentin’s superhero. Peppy is also a trailblazing woman on her own. Much like many George before her, she knows how to play to a crowd and to the hungry paparazzi. She became such a power player in Hollywood that she was able to negotiate George’s reacceptance into Tinseltown after threatening to drop out of a project herself. That’s major move for a film actress, a bold one her part (that ended up paying off).

Peppy is that person you want in your corner—a bubbly (but not annoyingly so), impossibly adorable, smart, caring person with a good head on her shoulders. She never gets involved in any overblown scandal in order to get her name up in lights. She doesn’t sleep her way to the top of the Hollywood food chain. She never had to. All she was interested in was being a good friend, becoming an actor like her idol George, and spreading happiness to everyone along her path.

This all plays to the deep complexities of her character, which go far beyond uplifting the lead male character. Peppy is a strong character by herself, without even relating to George. They are both equally rounded characters who supply the substance in a movie that’s heightened by their stories and the actors who play them. Their relationship helps stack every layer of this film, therefore elevating it past its seemingly cursory exterior.

While we never really learn much information about Peppy’s background (she remains mostly anonymous on that front throughout the entire film), somehow we still feel as though she gives us a window to her soul. You relate to her, you empathize with her, and you cheer for her each time she steps in front of the camera. In short, Peppy has that likeability factor that fans crave. How can they not? She practically waltzes from scene to scene and, before we know it, we’re smitten by her magic.

Although this season’s awards race may have you under the impression that Peppy is indeed a supporting character, Bejo’s performance of her will have you believing differently. Bejo brings out all the key qualities of Peppy in a performance that’s not only emotionally powerful, but also sentimentally resounding.

Even in silence, you hear the tapping of her shoes, the pep in her step, and her infectious laugh. How can a film with no words emit such a roaring character? Put Bejo front and center and she becomes one with the music. Every sympathetic look, impossibly happy reaction and playful gesture becomes a full-fledged symphony with Bejo. She doesn’t need any words, because the audience just knows. And, you know what, she and us are right here.

Too often people equate a good performance to one that’s grandiose, a powerhouse portrayal. Though some of those performances are in fact riveting, Bejo’s performance isn’t less so. She sparkles as Peppy, bringing out her magnetism as the gargantuan starlet she becomes, while also humanizing her and keeping her grounded. In other words, you take Peppy out of the City of Angels and she’d still be the same Peppy, girl wonder. Superhero to George Valentin, fallen star.

(This post was originally published for Bitch Flicks)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Black Male Biopics and Actors/Actresses Over 50 on Today's "Cinema in Noir"

On today's Cinema in Noir, the ladies and I gave our thoughts on three sequels in the works, including a follow-up to the Will Smith-starrer I Am Legend. We also share news on the latest biopics coming out of Hollywood. Could Forest Whitaker play Archbishop Desmond Tutu?

Speaking of biopics, we discuss which movies about prominent black male figures should make their way to the big screen, and what black actors over age 50 we'd like to see more of.

Jonathan Hailey of The Urban Daily and The Black Box Office steps in for Rebecca today (who's off covering the New Voices in Black Cinema Festival). Missed the show? Tune in below:

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Friday, February 17, 2012

"The Help" and "Jumping the Broom" Tie for Three Wins at the NAACP Image Awards

If you're like me, you're probably sick of hearing about this doggone film. But, The Help is still stunting on every other film this year. From the acting categories to the other major categories, it seems to be the one to beat.

At tonight's NAACP Image Awards, the film swept up three categories, including wins for Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and--the big one--best picture.

Its strongest competitor (surprisingly) was Jumping the Broom, which also took home three awards including wins for best actor Laz Alonso, director Salim Akil and supporting actor Mike Epps.

Check out the full list of film winners below:

Outstanding Motion Picture

“The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/Participant Media/Touchstone Pictures)

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture

Laz Alonso – “Jumping the Broom” (TriStar Pictures)

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture

Viola Davis – “The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/Participant Media/Touchstone Pictures)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Mike Epps – “Jumping the Broom” (TriStar Pictures)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Octavia Spencer – “The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/Participant Media/Touchstone Pictures)

Outstanding Independent Motion Picture

“Pariah” (Focus Features)

Outstanding Foreign Motion Picture

“In the Land of Blood and Honey” (FilmDistrict)

Outstanding Documentary – (Theatrical or Television)

“Sing Your Song” (HBO Documentary Films)

Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture – (Theatrical or Television)

Ann Peacock – “The First Grader” (National Geographic Entertainment)

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture – (Theatrical or Television)

Salim Akil – “Jumping the Broom” (TriStar Pictures)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Take a Look at a Bunch of Randy New Images from "Wanderlust"

As mentioned on the site several weeks ago, Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd are teaming up for what appears to be some kind of hippie stoner comedy, Wanderlust. But, actually, Universal Pictures sums it up like this:

PAUL RUDD (Role Models, I Love You, Man) and JENNIFER ANISTON (Horrible Bosses, The Break-Up) star in Wanderlust, the raucous new comedy from director DAVID WAIN (Role Models, Wet Hot American Summer) and producer JUDD APATOW (Bridesmaids, Knocked Up) about a harried couple who leave the pressures of the big city and join a freewheeling community where the only rule is to be yourself.

...And apparently meet quite a bunch of characters in this secluded community, including Alan Alda as leader of the pack, along with Calvin (Justin Theroux) as the "alpha male," and Eva (Malin Akerman) as the promiscuous one.

Richard Vane (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) executive produced the movie, which David Wain (who directed Rudd in Role Models) helms.

Check out a randy bunch of stills from the movie below. Wanderlust hits theaters February 24th? Will you be watching?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Watch: The New Trailer for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"

I know what you're thinking: what in Tim Burton/Zack Snyder tarnation is this thing? Well, it's the first trailer for the big screen adaptation of the hugely popular Seth Grahame-Smith novel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. And, yes, Burton certainly left his mark on the look of the movie as the producer of the project. Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov helms the movie.

A very curious case of the sixteenth American president, who embarks on a bloody vampire slaying spree to avenge the death of his mother (who he believes was killed by such supernatural forces).

Though the premise sounds a bit loopy, the film looks as though it does manage to keep some sense of cultural history (Lincoln is also on the hunt for slave-driving helpers). And the trailer kinda delivers, yes? Thoughts?

Anyway, Benjamin Walker (Kinsey, Flags of Our Fathers) stars as the politician-turned-action hero with Mary Elizabeth Winstead (who recently starred in The Thing reboot) as his wife, Mary Todd. Dominic Cooper (My Week with Marilyn, The Devil's Double) stars as vampire Henry Sturgess and Anthony Mackie (Man on a Ledge, The Adjustment Bureau) as Lincoln's barber and valet William Johnson.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is scheduled to hit theaters June 22nd.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

BAFTAs Honor Meryl Streep, Jean Dujardin and "The Artist"

Today the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) had their prestigious annual ceremony celebrating the best in film from 2011. The Iron Lady's Meryl Streep and The Artist's Jean Dujardin take home best actress and actor awards, while The Artist takes home top prize of the evening. See the full list of winners from the main categories below:

BEST FILM: “The Artist”

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM: “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

DIRECTOR: Michel Hazanavicius for "The Artist"

LEADING ACTOR: Jean Dujardin in "The Artist"

LEADING ACTRESS: Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Octavia Spencer in “The Help”



ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Michel Hazanavicius for "The Artist"

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"



"Cinema in Noir" Chats With "Southland" Actress Regina King

In our special one-year anniversary episode of "Cinema in Noir," the amazing Regina King joins us to talk about her role as Detective Lydia Adams on TNT's Southland. She also reflects on her nearly thirty-year career, spanning extraordinary performances in Ray, Jerry Maguire and TV's The Boondocks, among others.

We also take a moment to honor the legacy of the late great musical icon Whitney Houston, who passed away yesterday at the age of 48, and share our takes on Chico & Rita and Safe House. In case you missed the show, you can listen below:

Listen to internet radio with KimberlyRenee on Blog Talk Radio

Southland airs on TNT Tuesdays at 10pm

Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Chico & Rita" Directors Talk Music, Passion, Art and Cuba

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that Latin swing.
It's been too long since we've seen a film so luscious that it practically whisks you away to another time, another place. The animated film (and Oscar nominee for best animated feature), Chico & Rita does just that.

Though its stunning artistic achievement by accomplished Spanish designer Javier Mariscal has every look of an animated movie, the rich storyline and passionate romantic element give off the emotion of a live action adult film (worthy of standing next to any great adult film).

Written and directed by acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Fernando Trueba (Belle Epoque Two Much), Chico & Rita tells the sweeping romance between the title characters, two star-crossed lovers whose musical ambitions nearly destroy their love for each other. Battling the throes of love and heartbreak, the couple's passionate affair transcends throughout the 1940s and 1950s, and from Havana to New York, Las Vegas, Hollywood and Paris.

Truebo teams with co-directors Mariscal and his brother Tono Errando to present easily one of the most beautiful love stories we've scene on screen in recent history, one that keenly captures the essence of Latin culture with its brilliantly drawn scenes and soulful tunes (even recreating the timeless music of jazz greats such as Dizzie Gillespie and Cole Porter). The result is a sophisticated throwback to old Hollywood glamour with a scorching Latin twist

But despite its unmistakable Latin flavor, Trueba admits that it was his love for American culture that sparked the story. "This movie is inspired by old Hollywood classic movies and love stories," he says. "Marlon Brando, Dizzie Gillespie, and the music and movies of that time. To me, this movie is very American."

And that's evident in the musical and emotional journey the film embarks on, which also makes it easy to forget it's animated and not a live action historical fiction saga. But all of that was on purpose, says Trueba, who never intended the film to be live action. He goes on to say, "Animation gives you an option to create something that live action doesn't." Adds Errando, "Animation forces you to give something of yourself; it's like poetry. We can tell any story. It is a good balance between artistry and realism "

It's that same sense of freedom that helped the veteran filmmakers create a movie that kept the characters and essence of Latin culture authentic, something that Cubans and cinema aficionados alike can be proud of. In fact, the trio spent weeks filming in Havana immersing themselves in the city to pick up some of its natural vibrancy. "We needed to capture the expression, their rhythm," reveals Mariscal (who proceeds at this time to get out of his chair and reenact everything from the the sway of their hips to the glide of their walk).

So rather than casting big Hollywood heavyweights to voice the main characters, like Penélope Cruz, who starred in Trueba's Belle Epoque, they went with local talents who helped bring the characters to life. "Eman and Limara are two of the best Cuban actors," says Trueba. Adds Mariscal: "The focus is to make the audience believe these characters."

That's one of the most impressive things about the film, how it makes every frame genuine, worthwhile and effortless. Down to casting a new wave of musicians to recreate the power ballads of three generations of Cuban musicians (rather than using archive records), to choosing a distinct palette for each era and location.

"We decided to create the story in the way of the bolero," says Mariscal. "Geography is very important for the story--Las Vegas, Marlon Brando, Broadway, Central Park, even the buildings [in New York City] were so important. Every sequence has its color." Adds Errando: "New York and Cuba were two characters."

"The movie is a sensory experience. Going to a theater should be like being taken somewhere," says Trueba. Chico & Rita is a fantasy. I want people to see its beauty, see something new."

Chico & Rita is playing in limited release at New York City's Angelika Film Center this weekend, before it expands nationally.

In case you're unfamiliar with the movie, watch the enchanting trailer below:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ryan Reynolds Faces Off Against Denzel Washington in "Safe House"

Denzel Washington is back as a member of law enforcement on the big screen. But this time he's got a target on his back.

In Safe House, the Oscar winner plays Tobin Frost, a CIA agent years rogue harboring a dangerous file. When the CIA finally catch up to him, he's taken to a safe house guarded by rookie agent, 29-year-old Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), who's been looking to prove himself to his doubtful boss David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson) ever since he got on the job. But when this job put him way over his head, that's when it all starts to hit the fan.

As the plot thickens, Matt and Tobin find themselves on the other side of the chase, becoming unlikely allies.

Though it's not a premise we haven't seen played out before on the silver screen, Safe House is a movie that sucks you in, guts you, and spits you out at the end. In constant motion, the movie relies heavily on torture tactics and high speed chases (including one car chase in particular involving Reynolds at the wheel and Washington tackling him from behind, handcuffed) that aptly get the audience's adrenaline pumped.

But, let's face it, Washington can play this character with his eyes closed. It's not a particularly challenging role, but he does make it worthwhile to watch. His eternal smugness only firther captures the essence of a character that's smart, but too slick for his own good. And so he pokes fun at Matt's naivete every chance he gets. We've seen it before from Washington, but we can't help chuckling at his every jab just the same.

Then there's Reynolds, who was in desperate need of a big screen comeback after his last two disastrously-reviewed movies, The Green Lantern and The Change-Up. He holds his own alongside Washington, and channels a bit of that same desperation in his performance that impressed audiences in Buried. So, in a way, Reynold's performance was a bit more fascinating to watch because we rarely get to see him like this, and we want more of it. With a bit more polishing, we could expect to see him in more roles like this that challenge his abilities.

While Safe House isn't especially revolutionary, it is one heck of a thrill ride that's filled with sharp twists around every corner. Though some of the casting choices may leave you scratching your head, like Vera Farmiga as the tough as nails yet useless agent Catherine Linklater, effective performances by both Washington and Reynolds keep you invested in the relationship between the two main characters and on the edge of your seat until the very end.

Rating: B-

Thursday, February 9, 2012

John Boyega and Viola Davis Are Crowned King and Queen of the Black Reel Awards; "The Help" Earns Top Prize

Well, surprise, surprise. The Help continues to rack up this awards season. This time, the dramedy takes home the Best Picture award from the 2012 Black Reel Awards.

Attack the Block star John Boyega and The Help's Viola Davis snag best actor and best actress, while Shame and Pariah received much deserved love with wins for director Steve McQueen and Adepero Oduye as best breakthrough performance.

Check out the rest of the film winners below:

Outstanding Actor - John Boyega / Attack the Block
Outstanding Actress - Viola Davis / The Help
Outstanding Supporting Actor - Don Cheadle / The Guard
Outstanding Supporting Actress - Octavia Spencer / The Help
Outstanding Screenplay, Original or Adapted - Steve McQueen / Shame
Outstanding Director - Steve McQueen / Shame
Outstanding Breakthrough Performance - Adepero Oduye / Pariah
Outstanding Ensemble - The Help
Outstanding Original Song – “The Living Proof” / Mary J. Blige (The Help)
Outstanding Score - Thomas Newman / The Help
Outstanding Foreign Film - Attack the Block
Outstanding Feature Documentary - Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest / Michael Rapaport
Outstanding Film - The Help

Outstanding Independent Feature Film - My Last Day Without You / Stefan C. Schaefer
Outstanding Independent Short Film - Wake / Bree Newsome
Outstanding Independent Documentary - Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of the Spook Who Sat By the Door / Christine Acham and Clifford Ward

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Jeremy Renner Is Not Messing Around in the New Trailer for "The Bourne Legacy"

If there was any question on whether Jeremy Renner has finally made it in Hollywood (despite two Oscar nominations), the trailer for The Bourne Legacy oughtta settle that with a resounding yes!

Picking up where Matt Damon gracefully left off with the franchise, Renner eases into the role of Jason Bourne's alternate, CIA badass Aaron Cross. And, based on the trailer alone, he looks like he's already stirring up trouble in the homeland.

Here's the official synopsis of the film from Collider:

The narrative architect behind the Bourne film series, Tony Gilroy, takes the helm in the next chapter of the hugely popular espionage franchise that has earned almost $1 billion at the global box office: The Bourne Legacy. The writer/director expands the Bourne universe created by Robert Ludlum with an original story that introduces us to a new hero (Jeremy Renner) whose life-or-death stakes have been triggered by the events of the first three films.

Rachel Weitz and Edward Norton also join the franchise as newcomers, while Albert Finney, Joan Allen, David Strathairn and Scott Glenn are set to reprise their roles.

Slick, effortless and dangerous, The Bourne Legacy seems like a perfect follow-up to Renner's role in in the mega action flick, Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol. And with his role as Hawkeye in this year's Avengers, Renner's career seems unbeatable at the moment.

The Bourne Legacy hits theaters August 3rd.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Or, are you ready for a football-themed "Cinema in Noir?" In honor of tonight's Super Bowl, NFL star-turned-film director Matthew Cherry joined the show today to discuss his upcoming movie, The Last Fall.

In case you're unfamiliar with the project, the movie follows an NFL journeyman (Lance Gross), who struggles to deal with life's complexities after his professional career is over. Nicole Beharie also stars in the movie as Gross' love interest.

You can watch the latest trailer for the film here:

We also count down our favorite football movies, share casting news about The Help stars--and Oscar frontrunners--Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis, and the latest on the Jackie Brown prequel. Listen to the full episode here:

Listen to internet radio with KimberlyRenee on Blog Talk Radio

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Casting Wishlist for Black Women in Hollywood

It's safe to say that roles for black women in Hollywood are beyond scarce. And a diversity of roles are even harder to come by. In honor of Black History Month, check out a list of real life characters destined for a big screen debut, and the actresses who could play them:

REGINA KING as Shirley Chisholm: King herself reportedly expressed interest in playing the late great politician/activist, and bringing her story to the big screen. It's not hard to picture it. Both women are smart, outspoken, and have never seen a barrier they couldn't break. Let's hope this movie sees the light of day.

VIOLA DAVIS as Nina Simone: Although the big wigs in Hollywood seem dead set on a Nina Simone movie with R&B singer Mary J. Blige as the legendary songbird, wouldn't it be cool to see this year's Oscar frontrunner tackle the complexities of Simone's character instead? Just saying...

JURNEE SMOLETT as Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman: Goodness knows Hollywood has been sleeping on Smollett's talent for far too long. And we rarely get to see black woman on the big screen get to achieve a major accomplishment or set any records. Smollett's quiet yet passionate style can do justice to Coleman's legend as the first black female pilot.

KIMBERLY ELISE as Lorraine Hansberry: She may not much resemble the late great playwright (and she's a bit longer in the tooth), but Elise is arguably one of the best actresses of color in the game who could dignify Hansberry's story. And who wouldn't want to see a movie detailing the life of the first black woman to ever write a play that was produced on Broadway (A Raisin in the Sun)?

ANIKA NONI ROSE as Lil Hardin: Though the autobiography of musician Louis Armstrong's second wife Lil Hardin never saw the light of day, it would be interesting to see what she would have written had she been able to finish it before her death. A wonderful jazz musician in her own right, something tells me Hardin's story would be just as juicy as one of her late husband. With Rose's Broadway experience and acclaimed musical background, she could be the right one to step into Hardin's shoes.

KIM WAYANS as Angela Davis: Last year we saw the work and beliefs of political activist and leader Angela Davis illuminated in the underrated documentary Black Power Mixtape. If that movie did anything, it really proved how much a story of the icon is screaming for a big screen debut. In Living Color comedienne Wayans, who's recently expressed interest in taking on more dramatic roles since her turn in Pariah, would be a good fit to play the icon.

QUEEN LATIFAH as Zora Neale Hurston: We've seen so many movies about other authors, why not one about Their Eyes Were Watching God scribe, Zora Neale Hurston? Other than writing one of the most respected novels of all time, Hurston was also a known political advocate, whose work often challenged the wide perception of African-Americans throughout the Harlem Renaissance.

SALLI RICHARDSON as Lena Horne: Richardson previously expressed interest in tackling the role of late actress and singer Horne, which wouldn't be a bad idea. Though Richardson has been typecast in an array of pretty girl roles, she had a breakthrough performance in last year's indie drama I Will Follow. Horne having died less than two years ago, it's a wonder why there hasn't been more Hollywood rumblings of a big screen story based on her life.

ADEPERO ODUYE as Leontyne Price: We're not sure if Pariah star Adepero Oduye can sing, but her voice could always be dubbed for a much needed Leontyne Price movie. The personal life of the respected opera singer, who became one of the first black singers to become a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera, is largely undocumented. As one of Price's most famous roles as Bess in George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess continues to heat up the Broadway stage, it would be nice to see her life story get a big screen treatment.

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