Archive for June 2009

brief update

i'm finally starting to settle in my temporary home at overland park, KS.

a few minor updates:

1/ in my spare time, i've been watching a LOT of films. my main focus has been on french new wave cinema, particularly the works of godard and melville. i hope to write in more detail about this later.

2/ i have less than 100 pages left to read in j.g. ballard's crash. this is my second time reading it. the first time was over ten years ago during the spring term of my senior year at michigan tech. i'm liking it a lot better the second time around.

3/ i've finally started work on my second short film. it's another music video and even more esoteric than the first one. (aside to jamie and chris: i'm not using the adrian belew track, i'm using one of my own makes the film more personal and, best of all, it fits better with what we discussed at our last meeting.) i hope to finish the rough cut by the end of the week.

4/ i start writing my part of the haunted house script this weekend.

5/ neil marshall's doomsday is fucking amazing. it's insane and you need to put it at the top of your list of must see movies.

6/ i also finally watched master and commander. expect to hear more from me about this film. it is a delight to watch. also, it is absolutely criminal that it didn't do better at the box office.

well, dinner is on.

more later.

This N' That....

Didn't watch the BET Awards last night, did you? I know there was a tribute to Michael J, which was nice, but did you know that Spike Lee and John Singleton both directed videos for the Gloved One? I didn't. (I posted the pic above cause I absolutely love these two together, so sue me.)

Speaking of Michael, The Reaper seems to be on a vendetta...Farrah, McMahon, and yesterday Billy Mays. Strangely I felt kinda bad about Billy---my co-workers had this joke that if they wanted someone to get their ass in gear they would imitate Mays and talk REALLY loud, saying that his shouting style seemed to motivate people. Someone was watching "Pitchmen" at my house (Billy's show) ironically the day before he died, and I felt an immense amount of respect for how he treated his family--they were so very loving, I'm very sad for them, he seemed like a very good man.

I watched, or half-watched, "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" on TV One yesterday, starring an array of very attractive and very C-List actors. Was that movie underwritten by Tyler Perry? All the elements were there...the gospel scenes, the child in peril, the woman getting her ass beat, and this seeming surplus of "good men" and all problems are completely solved by going to church. *yawn* But I have to admit that I absolutely adore the original series "Unsung", especially the profiles on Donny Hathaway, Minnie Ripperton, and Shalamar. What is up with Jeffery Daniel's upper crust semi-British accent? Weird.

The trash that is Transformers made a sh*tload of money over the weekend, being number one, of course. My Sergio had this to say:

"[Keep] this in perspective. The film cost $250 million to make and another $150 for advertising and marketing , so Paramount knew from the outset that they had to make the film the biggest opening ever if they had any shot to make their money back. Which is why the film already opened overseas almost two weeks ago and opened here in over 4200 theaters. And also keep in mind that the far and away superior The Dark Knight opened last year with an opening $203 million and it achieved that in three days while this racist piece of shit opened on a Wednesday."

A couple years ago I posted a piece about the first "Transformers" called "Racism And Robots" which you can read HERE. I didn't even write the actual article, yet I got some voracious hate mail and a good amount of traffic from it--still do. And yes, I still believe Michael Bay is a loser.

Speaking of traffic, why do I get tons from folks searching for Countess Vaughn of all people. Who can these people be and why do they want to know about her? The mind boggles.....

And listen to me and the majority of the contributors to Shadow And Act chop it up on a podcast tonight--get your details right HERE, my friend....5pm PST, 8pm EST.

Old School Music Fridays: Michael Jackson

I haven't done one of these in a long time...there was no way I could miss this week's theme, Michael Jackson.

When I first heard that Mike had a heart attack, I was a bit surprised but not really. I heard he was pretty frail these days, and with all the stress and pressure he's been under for the last 15 years, it would have worn down anyone, point blank...I fully expected him to recover. But then when I read he'd died, it felt like someone had socked me hard in my chest--I could not believe what I was seeing. I involuntarily began to cry.

Tho I have been side-eying Michael and his antics for quite some time, all I could remember was that my first real memory of music and dancing as a toddler was to Michael. My parents had these huge speakers in the den, the outside was made of real wood; completely old school. I remember dancing to Mike and his brothers facing those speakers, in my fuzzy bunny slippers and pajamas, my hair all wrapped up in the scarf I would sleep in to keep my hair neat and pretty--I loved that music so much! The first concert I ever went to was Mike and his brothers--I was so excited cause I got to touch Jermaine on his way by...

That's the only way I choose to remember Michael, for his music, for I believe he did the best that he knew how, and he never seemed to be able to mend his heart and overcome his issues and demons like say...Prince. I would have loved for him to enjoy what appears to be the peaceful, lavish, respected life Prince has, but I am also glad his pain is at rest.

Me being me, here is a mini-movie video that Mike made back in the day, with icons Eddie Murphy, Iman, and Magic Johnson. It is a fantastic tribute in my eyes to the beauty of Blackness, and I was very proud of Michael when he made it. Enjoy and have a blessed day:

Please visit my Old School Fridays fam and folkses today for your fill of Micheal Jackson tributes and remembrances:

AJ - 1964 -’86 - Groovy - - - - Vyas - - - and Fab -’s Daughters – - - - - - Creole Pimp - C - - - - - Mike - Grapevine - - - Art Diva - - - - - - - - Thang - -

bottom feeders: a new rant

from the satellite office in overland park, KS:

i'm sitting here alone in the apartment that my employers have provided for me during my stay. i am watching CNN. i'm not a big fan of CNN, but it's late in KS and i needed some background noise while scrounging around on google, gathering tidbits for my latest top secret project.

they have been reporting about michael jackson's death non-stop for the past three hours. at first, it was just a bunch of talking heads over archival footage of MJ.

at 8pm central, larry king came on. he started with the same talking head style, interviewing the likes of cher and celine dion. again, nothing too earth-shattering.

then, at about half-past, a reporter from ET (that bastion of banal infotainment "news") came on and said that ET had obtained an "exclusive" photo. this photo, which larry king put on screen for the world to see, showed a medium shot of MJ on a stretcher as the EMTS are trying to resuscitate him.

a few minutes later, CNN showed live footage of the helicopter that was transporting MJ's remains to the coroner.

let's think about this: a news agency took the time to find out which helicopter was providing transport, scrambled their own helicopter and followed it.

gentle readers, we have reached a new low.

you want to know why the world is in its current situation?

i believe that the issues that i raised above give us a clue.

the actions of ET don't surprise me. those twisted fuckers have always been bottom feeders.

however, i have a personal message that i would like to give to CNN:

we are fighting two wars, on the verge of economic collapse, in the midst of conflicts with north korea and iran, and, on top of all of that, our health care system is imploding. you have spent the past FOUR hours reporting on an ONE hour's worth of information.

you need to get your fucking priorities straight.

understand, i take absolutely nothing away from the contributions that michael jackson made to music. his work with motown and the jackson 5 alone justifies all of the accolades.

however, the past few hours have reinforced something that i've been feeling for awhile now:

agencies such as CNN, Fox News and ET need to go. they aren't helping the world, they're part of the problem.

and don't even get me started about jon and kate.

For My New York Folkses....

Got this is my email:


My name is Jonathan Hyppolite from Afropunk. I was wondering if you can put up the Afropunk poster on your webpage for promoting the entire festival. Musician and Poet Saul Williams, Grammy Award-nominated Janelle Monae, and Legendary 1977 punk band Pure Hell are just a few of the headliners for the 5th Annual Afropunk Music/Film Festival in Brooklyn, NY. UrbanX will introduce the BMX/Skateboarding competitions with the prize being two tickets to the X-Games. Can't wait to see you guys there. History in the making.

Event: 5th Annual Afropunk Music/Film Festival
Place: Brooklyn Academy Of Music
Time 11am-10pm (times varies)
Dates: June 30th ( Webster Hall) July 4th-6th, July 12th (Bloc party)

Much Love

Jonathan Hyppolite

Movies Revisited...Mo Better Blues

This is a repost from my other blog "Soul Sis-Star Reviews" (Movies Revisited), where Issa Rae and I give our two cents on Black Film we've watched. Please join us over there and give your two cents as well :-)

Even though this movie was highly anticipated when it came out, and I did indeed see it then, there were only a few details I remembered...the beautiful clothes, how pretty everyone looked, slightly crushing on Wesley Snipes (long gone, of course). But watching it again brought me a bit past my original superficial thoughts on the film.

For those of you who don't know, the plot synopsis is this (from IMDB--not a very good one, sorry):
"Opens with Bleek as a child learning to play the trumpet, his friends want him to come out and play but mother insists he finish his lessons. Bleek grows into adulthood and forms his own band - The Bleek Gilliam Quartet. The story of Bleek's and Shadow's friendly rivalry on stage which spills into their professional relationship and threatens to tear apart the quartet."

Like many of Spike's films, I found parts of Mo Better Blues to be pretentious and cartoony, edging on corniness--the dialogue of the children in the scene where Bleek Gilliam, the main character played by Denzel Washington was a child, the overly studied and propped shots of "the hood" that would even be too much for a photograph, the very familiar moving dolly shots that were part of Spike's trademark.

For some reason this time around they were endearing to me, maybe because it was a woeful reminder that there is a severe absence in trademarks or style in today's Black Cinema. There are some up and coming directors that are notable, to be sure, but none of them have established a familiarity of like, say, a Spike, Tim Burton, or Wes Bentley. Earnest Dickerson, the cinematographer on this film, was also on top of his game here--the colors, the crisp, professional look of the film, the surreal atmospheres, the intimacy of the jazz club, the way he made everyone look so lush and beautiful...even Spike almost had a handsome look in this one.

I got lost in the beauty of the movie, and wondered why I never crushed on Denzel back in the day. When I worked for The Studio That Will Henceforth Remained Unnamed, Denzel's production offices were right downstairs, and I was never even remotely curious. After viewing this film, I wondered for the rest of the day what planet I must have been on....yes, he was deserving of the sex symbol hype he garnered in the 90's--Denzel was hot as fish grease on the sun in this.

If this film were made today it would do gangbusters--the different moods of the film, from brooding, to comedic, to romantic flow very well together. The storylines--Bleek's sometimes acrimonious relationship with his right hand and sax player Shadow (Wesley), the shenanigans and gambling issues of his manager, Giant (Spike), the two timing love relationships that he had with his women, Clarke (Cynda Williams) and Indigo (c'mon, really, Indigo?) played by the one mega-weak link in the film (besides Cynda's anticlimatic "big" singing debut), Joie Lee, Spike's sister...the storylines mesh and never overwhelm each other.

I understand Spike has love for his sis, but I believe this would have been an infinitely even better film if a stronger, or at least more interesting actress would have been cast in ger role. Joie's personality (and I use that term loosely) seems to fade into the background; her look is different and while attractive in it's own right, is not particularly big screen worthy. In her love scenes with Denzel she has zero sex appeal--she made kissing on him look like a chore...what was up with that? Maybe she was uncomfortable with her brother shooting her that way...if that was the case, someone really should have let the Assistant Director step in.

I must admit, because of the dearth of interesting Black film (interesting to me, anyway) I have found that lately, rewatching film that are 10, 20, 30 years old, that I have a much deeper appreciation for the work, time, and creativity for movies such as this one. Mo Betta Blues has moved up more than a few notches in my book--if you haven't seen it, rent immediately--if only to reminisce on the comedic stylings of the late Robin Harris, the house comedian in the jazz club and to enjoy the jazzy score. Here is the trailer:

WTF??!!! Volume 15

Please. please, PLEASE let this be some BS! From Dlisted:

Why did I have to read about Morgan Freeman allegedly Wood-Allen-ing his step-granddaughter?! If I dip my head in a pot of boiling bleach will it burn away that image along with 99% of the skin on my face? I might be willing to try it.

I hope the National Enquirer was just telling jokes when they wrote about 72-year-old Morgan Freeman's 10-year-long affair with his 27-year-old step-granddaughter E'Dena Hines. Please let them issue a statement that they thought April Fool's Day got moved to mid-June for some reason.

A source tells the Enquirer that E'Dena is the granddaughter of Morgan's first wife Jeanette. Morgan and his second wife Myrna raised E'Dena ever since she was a little girl. The affair reportedly started when E'Dena was a teenager. The source went on to say, "Myrna said E'dena told her that when she was a teenager, she and Morgan went to dinner at a friend's house one evening. Both had been drinking, and when they returned home, Morgan attempted to have sex with her. They stopped just short of having intercourse. E'Dena explained to Myrna that she stopped Morgan from going any further."

Myrna told Morgan to step off E'Dena and he promised he would. Without Myrna knowing, Morgan's relationship with E'Dena continued for years.

The source wants all to know that it's technically not incest since they aren't blood relatives,
"but Morgan is trying desperately to keep his divorce out of open court so all the shameful facts won't become public."

I know most of you stopped at "National Enquirer," but they sound serious about this one. Maybe we should all just pretend this is a work of creepy fan fiction and then slowly back away until we get further evidence? Okay, I won't dip my head in bleach just yet, but in the meantime.....


From IW: Oh hayell to the naw!!!

Next house on the left

Because I generally like films about rape and murder – and because, as we all know, remakes are always just great – I decided to rush out and give the new Last House on the Left a try on its UK opening day. So I sat there in the dark with about eight strangers – some of whom gasped at the graphic stabbings, sexual assaults and miscellaneous mutilations – and thought: Why am I doing this? Am I sick? But you know what? This film is just great. And I’m not sick, I assure you... Although I guess I would say that.

I’m a fan of Wes Craven’s original. What horror fan isn’t? It’s not perfect (I’m sure you’ll have your own reasons – possibly several – as to why) and Craven would come on leaps and bounds as a filmmaker throughout the rest of the 70s, but it works by succeeding at everything it’s trying to do and, crucially, horrifying the hell out of you three decades on.

The new Last House actually smoothes out a lot of these imperfections both plot-wise and stylistically. Which isn’t to say it’s a superior film; I think the original holds its own just because it got there first. But it certainly doesn’t insult the original, unlike many a recent remake, and it stands alone in a way the Friday the 13th and Halloween remakes don’t.

Quality films about rape and murder are usually foreign, and sometimes quite boring and pretentious. The Last House on the Left is certainly quality – it’s got a lush, orchestral score, beautiful cinematography and a capable cast – and it drags you in on the weight of your own gloomy expectations that its initial idyll can’t last. Of course bad things are going to happen to its teenage protagonists, although I can’t say whether or not you’ll find them more disturbing that those in the original (I found them less so – just slightly – thanks to the high production values and reduced sense of humiliation).

Pretentious it definitely isn’t, however. While it’s sensible enough to make you believe it, it’s also plenty pulpy when you just want that revenge-kick. It doesn’t pussy-foot, but it’s not tactless either. By dishing out dollops of nasty mayhem in its final third it does what Funny Games (the original and remake) denies – that is, allows you to wallow in the horror. After all, it’s a horror movie. It’s supposed to be chock-full of horrible, and it’s supposed to be a cathartic experience... In fact, now that I’ve seen the new Last House, I think I’ll be able to get through the next three weeks without kicking a single kitten.

It’s that good.

Rating: 4/5

Terrence Watch!: Massive Stupidity Edition

There are those in life that should never speak and keep a low profile, but for some reason seem to be unable to do it. O.J. is currently paying for his runningus mouthus, and Sarah Palin seems to be incapable of even slightly perceiving what a complete and total moron she is. Case in point, fighting a war of words with David Letterman, whose mind can run around the earth's equator five times before Palin's tiny bird brain can process a simple sentence. Will she ever learn? Probably not--arrogance is a treacherous thing.

The treachery of arrogance can lead to several things; like thinking that you are completely desirable to everyone in your path, or that you are a Mensa scholar with everyone hanging on to your every word as if it were gold. Or both. This same arrogance also apparently makes you blissfully unaware that you are an idiot; Palin, Trump, Spencer Pratt, Jon Voight, Republican head Michael Steele, Miley Cyrus...I can go on and on. But the only one that makes me really take notice is the one who always brings me out of my Blog Hiatus, my beloved Terrence Howard.

Since I've been on hiatus, my darling Terrence has gotten engaged *sniff*, saved a baby bird from certain death in Beverly Hills (which miraculously made many news and blog outlets--kudos Baby Wipe publicist!), and recently had this golden nugget of wisdom for us lowly earthlings:

"I don't think President Obama has been that revolutionary in reaching out to ethnic communities. President Reagan did a lot for the black community that people don't realize."

Well, I must admit, I sure the f*ck didn't know that. Ol' Ronald sure was hiding it very, very well. You learn something new every day, yes? Maybe one day Terrence can share even more of his ethereal sage wisdom and let us know exactly what those things were. Until then, I'll watch the kids in deep East Oakland play with rocks instead of being in the after-school programs Reaganomics snatched away. Thanks once again, my Prince, for waking me from my blog beauty sleep! Back to my Billy Wilder marathon on TCM....

Sarah Palin's feet and toes at a recent appearance--speaks volumes, don't it? I think Dave was on to something about the "slutty flight attendant" look

Gone Fishin'

I apologize for the lack of activity around here lately.  I'm on a grant to write full-time right now.  As a result, I am writing seven days a week to get as much done as humanly possible - sadly this leaves little time or energy for my blog.  I'll be back soon however with some light posts - like the "It's 'fill in celeb here' Day"  In fact, I've been thinking a lot lately that it needs to be "Wendy James" day around here or maybe Cathy Moriarty day.  What I really want to do is write a review of "I Desire" as promised to a good mate in England (who sent me a copy all the way from England), but all my powers of criticism are focused on something else right now.  Suffice it to say, until I get to that review properly, I loved it!  I am however, I think, MORE nostalgic than my amigo in the U.K., who is incidentally the same age as yours truly.  For now then, à tout à l'heure!

Your host and proprietor, Chick Young

Bad day at the office?

Some recent gallivanting around Europe has put me in possession of a couple of obscure horror films with a workplace theme. But without visiting the IMDb and spoiling all the fun, I know next to nothing about either, other than what’s written (in Dutch) on the DVD covers...

First up, there’s Office Party, a “psychologische thriller” starring Michael Ironside and David Warner, one of whom appears to be wearing a scary mask in the stills on the box. While Ironside is touted on the front cover, however, it’s Warner who’s mentioned in the plot description on the back, so I can’t really tell which is the hero. I’m guessing it’s Warner because his character appears to be called Eugene, and I can’t imagine a masked killer going by that name (oh, how quickly we forget Eric’s Revenge). From the looks of things, I’m thinking Eugene and his co-workers are trapped inside an office building by a deranged murderer and must fight to survive the night!

Then there’s Office Killer, which – joy of joys – stars Carol Kane. Judging by the cover (a dubious practice, I hear) she’s in mousy mode, but don’t be fooled, as “she will kill her way to the top!” apparently... Just like Michael Caine in A Shock to the System, perhaps? Quite frankly, I’ll be happy enough if this is simply better than the disappointing The Temp, which it also appears to resemble. But I can’t get enough of stationery-item-related violence at the moment (Drag Me to Hell’s stapler and ruler antics had me in fits) so, if Carol gets handy with a letter opener – or even just a few paperclips – I’ll be pleased as (a hole) punch.

I’ll be scheduling Office Party and Office Killer for their performance appraisals just as soon as I find a free slot in my Filofax.