TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL ROUNDUP

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This time of the year always touts several film festivals that ultimately are the first glimpse audiences have at future Academy Award nominees and winners.  Here are some highlights from 2014 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL and a report from Deadline Hollywood's Pete Hammond on COLCOA, the biggest film festival in North America and considered a pre-cursor to the Cannes Film Festival in France next month.

2014 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL

This year the choices of screening fluctuate between 61 documentaries, 7 Sci-Fi films, 6 films exploring technology, 10 LGBTQ films, 39 films with female directors, 11 horror flicks, 5 Transmedia projects, 9 romantic comedies, 27 movies about New York, 10 Supernatural Romances, 4 films about food, 12 Thrillers, 10 films about friendship, 1 film about zombie beavers, 10 crime movies, 35 comedies and 14 sports films.  Needless to say this blog would never end if I described all of these films.  I would still be typing as you read this.  So, I will just give you a few highlights and for more in-depth information, please feel free to go to www.tribecafilm.com for more info.

WE COULD BE KING - This 74 minute documentary chronicles the MLK High School Cougars' most recent football season, which started with little to no hope and strife as a budget crisis forced Germantown High to merge with their longtime hated rival, MLK High. A two-year losing streak and teammates who didn't particularly like each other fell on the shoulders of 27-year-old first time heard coach Ed Dunn.

Needless to say, thins get off to a rocky start, star players deal with setback that threaten their college aspirations, but Coach Dunn remains determined to get his team on the right track to victory.

KEEP ON KEEPIN' -     A documentary directed by Alan Hicks and Executive Produced by Grammy Winner Quincy Jones chronicles jazz trumpeter Clark Terry's mentoring of Justin Kaulflin, a blind piano prodigy.

INTRAMURAL - Take the heart of Rocky, the training montage of Dodgeball, the offbeat characters of the college classic PCU, and the camera work of Any Given Sunday, and you've got Intramural, which pays homage to one of cinema's most beloved genres - the inspirational sports movie.  Directed by Andrew Disney, the uproarious comedy stars Jake Lacy, Nikki Reed, Jay Pharaoh and SNL's Kate McKinnon (who was plucked for SNL right out the CBS Diversity showcase).

SUPER DUPER ALICE COOPER - Before Marilyn Manson, there was Super Duper Rocker Alice Cooper.  Like many rockers of the 70's his onstage antics proved to be disturbing, shocking and downright unbelievable.  Super Duper Alice Cooper is the twisted tale of a teenage Dr Jekyll whose rock n roll Mr Hyde almost kills him. Vincent Furnier, preacher's son, struck fear into the hearts of parents as Alice Cooper, the ultimate rock star of the bizarre. The is the first ever 'doc opera' - a dizzying blend of documentary archive footage, animation and rock opera that will cement forever the legend of Alice Cooper.

ICE POISON - Burmese-Taiwanese filmmaker Midi Z ‘s fourth feature, follows a poor, young farmer who pawns his cow for a moped to start a new profession as a taxi driver. His first fare is a young woman returning home for her grandfather’s funeral.  As the two grow closer, the woman reveals that she is fleeing her unhappy, arranged marriage and wants to start life anew with her daughter. Out of options, the two decide to become drug couriers to earn enough money for a fresh start. Of course, nothing is every that easy.

ZOMBEAVERS - The trailer for Zombeavers garnered 2 million views in its first two weeks alone, thanks to a big push by some prominent Twitter users like Jonathan Ross, Judd Apatow and Dane Cook.  The B-movie creature feature throwback, Zombeavers, celebrated its world premiere at TFF last weekend, delighting festival audiences with its special effects, humor, and gore, gore, gore!

BEGIN AGAIN - The latest film from writer-director John Carney (Once), Begin Again is a soul-stirring comedy about what happens when lost souls meet and make beautiful music together. Gretta (Keira Knightley) and her long-time boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who decamp for New York when he lands a deal with a major label. But the trappings of his new-found fame soon tempt Dave to stray, and a reeling, lovelorn Gretta is left on her own. Her world takes a turn for the better when Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a disgraced record-label exec, stumbles upon her performing on an East Village stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. From this chance encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City. Begin Again is produced and financed by Exclusive Media and produced by Anthony Bregman, Tobin Armbrust and Judd Apatow. The film will be released by The Weinstein Company in July.

This year's Festival is over TODAY, but there are a few films that would like to come home with you. Check out these films now on VOD and digital platforms: 

Beneath the Harvest Sky

The Bachelor Weekend

Bright Days Ahead 

Colcoa: Oscar Winner Claude LeLouch Opens Biggest French Film Festival Outside Of Cannes - Deadline.com http://www.deadline.com/2014/04/colcoa-oscar-winner-claude-lelouch-opens-biggest-french-film-festival-outside-of-cannes/ via @deadline

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

2013 Toronto Film Festival

august-osage-countyThe Toronto Film Festival is winding down over this weekend and now it looks like the best picture race could include “12 Years As A Slave,” “August: Osage County,” “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Fruitvale Station,” “Gravity,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,”  “Philomena,”  “Prisoners” and “Rush.  That doesn’t even include the dark horses, which could be  any of the following: “42,” “All is Lost,” “Blue Jasmine,” “The Fifth Estate,” “Invisible Woman,” “Kill Your Darlings,” “Labor Day,” “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” and “Nebraska.” Having been at a disadvantage of not being able to attend these festivals, I rely heavily on info reported on their respective  websites and the journalists that ARE privileged enough to attend.

According to THR correspondent Steve Pond, there are few things learned from the Toronto Film Festival thus far...

1)  Size matters … But not always in the right way.

This year’s festival had 288 features, more than 100 screenings a day, and a vast selection of movies of every shape and size and genre.

2)  It’s a good year.

You’d be hard-pressed to find any critical bombs on the TIFF schedule this year. “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” lived up to their buzz, “Prisoners” ,“Labor Day”, “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Enough Said” won many devotees, and this past Sunday night Ron Howard’s “Rush” got a standing ovation for its kinetic look at the rivalry between two legendary Formula One race car drivers.

Meanwhile, the festival showcased little gems like  “The Lunchbox,” “Ida” and “Gloria,” the documentaries “Tim’s Vermeer,” “Midway” and “Burt’s Bees,” the near-wordless survival drama “Canopy” and the wholly unclassifiable “Under the Skin,” a bizarre, creepy and oddly moving sci-fi puzzler with Scarlett Johansson as an alien who picks up men for reasons that have nothing to do with sex.

3)  Buyers want friendly movies.

Sure, Toronto is known for Best Picture winners, for foreign films, for docs and dark indies. But what’s selling so far? Crowd-pleasing movies.

By far the biggest deal for a TIFF title was the Weinstein Company’s acquisition of John Carney’s “Can a Song Save Your Life?,” a delightful blend of drama and comedy from the director of “Once.”

With musical numbers ably performed by Keira Knightley, Adam Levine and others, along with a marvelously rumpled Mark Ruffalo as a down-on-his-luck record industry exec, the film drew standing ovations at its public screenings and is the kind of fresh, feel-good movie that seems destined more for the multiplex than the arthouse cinemas.

You could say something similar about “The F Word,” which sources say has received multiple bids this weekend. The film is a small gem, a 21st Century spin on “When Harry Met Sally” with Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan as best friends who might be more than that.

Radcliffe is quickly putting Harry Potter in the rearview mirror, and Kazan, a year after deconstructing the rom-com genre with “Ruby Sparks,” embraces it – and as usual, she is a delight.

Meanwhile, Focus Features picked up Jason Bateman’s “Bad Words,” a gleefully profane lowbrow comedy that won’t be seen anywhere near awards season, but could be nasty enough to draw a few crowds.

Movies like these are the reason Toronto isn’t like Telluride or Venice, and why it attracts far more money than those festivals.  Instead of careful curation, TIFF offers one-stop shopping – and for now, to what should be the surprise of no one, the people with money are stopping and shopping in the commercial-movie aisle.

Based on all the buzz, I decided to share trailers from the films with the most buzz...AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, 12 YEARS AS A SLAVE & GRAVITY...All clips can be found on youtube.com

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

2013 Independent Film Festival Follow-up

Film Festival Follow-up The Telluride festival...done, Venice is wrapping up and Toronto begins while we are getting news about what is on the horizon with the AFI Festival slated to open on November 7th. All of these festivals usually gives us a sneak peek about what the Oscar race for 2014 is shaping up to look like.

Thus far, we have seen these films emerge as front-runners -- FRUITVALE STATION, Lee Daniels' THE BUTLER, BLUE JASMINE, THE WAY, WAY BACK and its stars Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Forest Whittaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Cate Blanchett & Allison Janney are creating a lot of buzz.

Going into the Toronto festival, major buzz is surrounding Steve McQueen's 12 YEARS OF A SLAVE, GRAVITY, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, PARADISE, PRISONERS & SAVING MR. BANKS already making the Best Actress category overcrowded.

Rumor has it that these actresses will be lauded for their performances: Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine Sandra Bullock - Gravity Judi Dench -Philomena Marion Cotillard - The Immigrant Julia Roberts - August: Osage County Meryl Streep - August: Osage County Naomi Watts - Diana Emma Thompson - Saving Mr. Banks Oprah Winfrey - Lee Daniels' The Butler

It's looking like a real horse race thus far...

On another note films opening this week include: Adore starring Naomi Watts and Robin Wright Afternoon Delight with Kathryn Han, Juno Temple and Josh Radnor Bounty Killer starring Gary Busey, Eve and Beverly D'Angelo Hell Baby with Rob Coddry Riddick with Vin Diesel Winnie Mandela starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard.

Tags: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts

Categories: Film Reviews

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Review: IN A WORLD

MV5BMTU0NzE0Mzg3M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzY2MDY3OQ@@._V1._SX94_SY140_Just the other day UBN Radio co-owner Ann Walker had our mutual friend Nita Whittaker-LaFontaine and her daughter on as guests right on the heels of their appearance of the NBC talent competition show "...And The Winner Is...".  What most people don't know is that Nita is the better half of voice-over legend Don LaFontaine.  LaFontaine was dubbed as "The Godfather of Voice-Over" and his sound was unmatched by any other voice artists in the world when he coined the phrase "In A World...".    As a result, when Don's life, career and voice were cut short after a courageous fight with cancer, the search to fill his void was on.  Women who were voice-over artists have had and still have a hard time dominating the world of promo and trailer voice-over work.  To date, the only female voice-over artist to break this mold is Melissa Disney, who is the voice of the "Gone In 60 Seconds" trailer.  Enter Director, Writer and Star of "In A World"...Miss Lake Bell, who portrays Carol, a voice-over artist/vocal coach proficient at accents and finds herself competing with her Dad for the VO gig of a lifetime.  Being a voice-over artist myself, I found this film to be absolutely true and hysterical!!!  The twists and turns from the Daddy/Daughter competition, love story of the engineer in love with Carol, the hot" vo guy of the moment" dealing with the possibility that his career may be jeopardy and the betrayal of his "best vo bud"  who just happens to be Carol's Dad and his competition, the reality that Dad is having  mid-life crisis affair with someone the same age as his daughter to finally the marriage of Carol's sister being in jeopardy of an affair. One of the funniest moments of the film for me was watching Carol stalk strangers for an opportunity to record various accents for her archives, which results in her being banned from the laundry room of her sisters apartment complex.

At the end of the day, Carol prevails and snags that golden gig from her Dad only to be told by the executive producer for the film that she was chosen for feminists reasons and not because she was the best.  Carol realizing that being the best in voice-over is more a dream for her Dad, she ultimately ends up doing what she does best...coach others into being the best they can be.

Bell, in her feature film directorial debut and winner for Best Screenplay at this year's Sundance Film Festival, is setting the tone for more women to enter the world of directing.  Other notable performances were given by Nick Offerman, Alexandra Holden, Michaela Watkins, Tig Notaro, Fred Melamed, Rob Corddry, Stephanie Allynne, Demetri Martin and Geena Davis, who all help bring the world of voice over to life for this film and had me dying from laughter!!!!

Catch "In A World" at theatre near you...you won't be sorry!!!!

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Review: Lovelace

One of my favorite shows as a cast member on Broadway was Cy Coleman's last musical "The Life".  It centered on the friendship and struggles of two unlikely best friends who were in "the life" in 80's version of New York City's Time Square pre-Disney days.  In order to make the characters that I covered authentic, I took a trip up to "Hunt's Point" in the Bronx to get an up close and personal look at the life and its participants.  What I witnessed were women with dreams and aspirations that involved moving past this unfortunate chapter in their lives. The same could be said for Linda Lovelace, a good girl with a strict upbringing, who happened to fall in love with the wrong man leading to her life as the premiere star of the porn industry in a little iconic classic called DEEP THROAT.  Lovelace, directed by Rob Epstein, shows us the consequences of a good girl gone wrong and what this type of life can lead to.  Amanda Seyfried in the title role is absolutely fantastic and sheds that "golden girl" image she has left us with in such films as "Mama Mia", "Les Mis".  You are totally convinced that Linda feels her film debut in DEEP THROAT will lead to other "acting" roles in legitimate films.  However, her boyfriend and later husband Chuck Traynor has other plans.  DEEP THROAT grossed over 600 million dollars and Linda Lovelace was only paid $1250.  Chuck spent her residuals, she never saw a dime and in an effort to repay monetary advances obtained from producers, Chuck pimped out Linda to get the money.  When she refused, he beat her, hypnotized her and threatened her if she attempted to leave.

Peter Sarsgaard brings the sleazy real life antics of Chuck Traynor to the screen  with ease to the point where you want to just reach into the screen to snatch a knot in his butt for being such a selfish, unempathetic human being.  Sharon Stone is almost unrecognizable as Linda's hard as nails Mom.  Chris Noth and Bobby Cannavale as the DEEP THROAT producers play their roles to the hilt as always no matter what projects they are involved in.

Linda Lovelace remarried and became Linda Marciano.  Her book detailing her life with Chuck Traynor, ORDEAL, sold out of all three reprints.  unfortunately, Linda died from complications sustained from an auto accident in 2002.  Traynor, who also remarried another famous porn star Marilyn Chambers,  died from a heart attack two  years later.

LOVELACE is in theatres now.

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Review: Paradise

Diablo Cody has proven to be a real innovative storyteller in this new millennium for women and the various emotional obstacles we face.  She has done so effectively with JUNO, the Steven Spielberg produced dramedy "United States of Tara" and now with her latest effort "Paradise".  Directed, written and produced by Cody, we are taken on the journey of Lamb (Julianne Hough), who after being severely burned in a plane crash, suffers a crisis in faith.  After denouncing God in front of her parents (Holly Hunter & Nick Offerman) and her congregation, Lamb travels to "sin city" Las Vegas where she stumbles upon lounge singer/bartender Loray (Octavia Spencer) and fellow bartender William (Russell Brand), who begrudgingly take her under their wing to assist her in completing her "bucket list" to sin. I have to say based on her performances in "Safe Haven", "Footloose" and "Rock of Ages", I wasn't sure that Hough could carry this film, but I have to say she does so with much range and vulnerability, the type that only a "lamb" can have.  Octavia Spencer is hilariously salty as lounge singer with a heart of gold - Loray and Russell Brand shows us his vulnerable side as the bartender who shags every new girl in "sin city", but somehow has an overprotective reaction to Lamb.

Diablo Cody's first foray into directing is very impressive and her writing, as usual, always has a message which makes one pause and think about the own state of their lives.  PARADISE was one of the hits of Sundance this past year and is slated for a feature release in October.  If you can't wait until then, you can catch it on DirectTV NOW!

[embed]https://youtu.be/Blu3_Mxpimc[/embed]

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Review: JOBS

Electronics have evolved at an alarming rate over the last 10 years and I attribute most of this to the genius of deceased Apple innovator Steve Jobs.  Steve Jobs died in 2011 of pancreatic cancer and will also be profiled in an untitled Sony film by Aaron Sorkin. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who's played by Josh Gad in Jobs, has been hired as an adviser on the upcoming Sorkin film.  Jobs and Wozniak truly revolutionized the way the world communicates...period.  Their gadgets the iPhone, iPad Macbook computers, etc...have made it single-handedly possible to communicate anytime, anywhere, anyhow...THANK YOU!  However, all that instant accessibility can easily be a blessing or a curse depending on what your chosen career is...LOL jobsJOBS takes us on the journey of how Steve Jobs along with 5 or 6 of his college friends took Apple from a startup idea in a garage to a global brand.  However, these types of tasks are never easy.  They are not easy on the friendships, business alliances or family members whose lives are all torn apart at the cost of a dollar.

Being a self-proclaimed "techno-geek", I found myself a little weepy at the end of the movie when I realized that the very thing Jobs invented was in my purse and like many I am very rarely NOT seen using it.  Which is why as much enthusiasm and fascination I have with the origin of Apple and Steve Jobs, I couldn't get past the mediocrity of this film.

Ashton Kutcher is often very underestimated as an actor.  Just like some other bright, handsome young men in Hollywood, (Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Matt Damon), he is not taken very seriously.  I am here to tell you that he is the real deal.  It was apparent that he really did his homework in order to capture the essence of who Steve Jobs was at his core (all the way down to the way he walked into a room).  As convincing as Kutcher was, the person who steals the film and who I am confident will receive recognition from the industry for his work is Josh Gad as Steve Wozniak.  Gad's performance is so layered and touching that you fall in love with him instantly and root for him even though you know what the outcome will be.

If you love technology and Apple, you will be fascinated by this film.  Otherwise...I say wait for the DVD.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrvkCS0ZGPU

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

LEE DANIELS' "THE BUTLER"

Never in my lifetime did I think I would witness a person of color become the President of  The United States.  However, not only did I witness it once...but twice!!!  I can only imagine how the subject of THE BUTLER "Cecil Gaines" must have felt having watched and listened in on some of the nation's most private and intense conversations for decades beginning with  President Dwight Eisenhower. THE BUTLER serves its audience a smorgasbord of issues to peek in on from the turbulent father/son, husband/wife relationships to the complexities of the Civil Right Movement to the difficult, borderline stressful conversations overheard while serving Presidents over the decades.  Overall, I wanted to see more about the man..Cecil Gaines. I felt like the details of his life were skimmed over to make room for the parade of stars portraying Presidents and First Lady's, as well as, the revisiting of such momentous events as the March on Selma, Freedom Riders, etc...  Don't get me wrong, all of these events and historic figures are indeed a necessity.  However, I just wanted more on Mr. Gaines.

The performances of Forest Whittaker and Oprah Winfrey should and deserve to recognized as exemplary work for each.  Oprah as Gloria Gaines reminds one of that favorite Aunt, Cousin or Grandmother that you hold fondly in memory well after they're gone.  Her performance was well-rooted in reality and your heart breaks for her character on more than one occasion.  Forest Whitaker, in the lead role of  Cecil Gaines, reminds us of why we love him as an actor.  He brings dignity, manliness and respect to his role and reminds us that all people in service should be treated with just that.  Adrian Lenox as Gina is a scene stealer as is Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Carter Wilson and Lenny Kravitz as James Holloway.  Yaya Alafia is brilliant as Carol Hammie, girlfriend to Louis Gaines (David Oyelowo).

Produced by the late Laura Ziskin and the Weinstein Company, THE BUTLER is a must see for all generations to serve as a reminder on how far we have come in America and yet how far we still have to travel.  Lee Daniels' THE BUTLER opens  nationwide on August 16, 2013.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uBXH_DLxsU

CASTING BY...

casting-by.jpg

Marion Dougherty, casts hundreds of film and television projects from the 50's well into the new millennium.  Her eye of what was unique about the talent she cast before they did was truly one of her gifts as a casting director having worked with such directing greats as Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Robert DeNiro, Robert Redford and the list goes on and on...  The associates that she trained are all women, paving the way for a whole new generation like famed Woody Allen CD Juliet Taylor, who has worked with him on more than 40 films. CASTING BY...is a basically a digital love letter to Marion Dougherty delivered from a select few of the hundreds of actors, directors and colleagues that loved her.  This inspiring documentary also gives its insight into the chauvinism that exists inside the stressful world of casting and how very important this role has become over the decades since the demise of the studio system.

Of the many, including Marion herself that spoke on this subject, the most inspiring story was from Academy Award winner Jon Voight.  He spoke of how Marion had been his champion to get him a very important audition early on in his career.  He booked the job, but when his episode of 'Naked City"  aired he was dreadful.  Feeling he had let Marion and his generation of actors down and equally appalled at his own mediocrity, he sat down to write an apology letter to Marion that he never finished or mailed.  Years later, he gets wind through the grapevine that casting is happening for "Midnight Cowboy" and he desperately wanted to read for the role of  "Joe Buck".  He had  a slight hesitation when he found out Marion was casting, but quickly got over it and headed on the first flight smoking from LA to NYC to beg her forgiveness and read for Joe.  When he arrives at her infamous casting brownstone in New York, he bumps into her in a hallway and profusely begins to apologize.  Marion cuts him off and ask him if he would like to meet John Slessinger...the director of "Midnight Cowboy".  Voight goes on to win the Oscar for his portrayal of "Joe Buck" and the rest is history.

The film also addressed how although CD's are recognized with Emmys by the television academy, the AMPAS  has yet to recognize them for their exemplary work in film.  Although in July 2013, AMPAS has created a new branch for casting directors, which gives them voting rights when Oscar time rolls around.  Marion Dougherty passed away in 2011 and it's a shame she was not here to witness this small victory for her colleagues.

Any actor who has ever complained about his/her feelings concerning a casting director should make watching this documentary a requirement!!!!  CASTING BY can currently be seen on HBO.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HziqvHUJVOI

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Blue Jasmine

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When I embarked upon meeting some girlfriends to see Woody Allen's latest venture I was excited to see what he had come up with this time.  After the screening, one of my friends said...I bet when Tennessee Williams wrote "Streetcar Named Desire", he had no idea that it would be reincarnated, reinvented and retooled into a 21st Century film directed by Woody Allen. I'm going out on a limb and proclaiming that BLUE JASMINE is Allen's best film yet, with a haunting and emotionally provocative performance by Oscar winner Cate Blanchett.  Blanchett convincingly portrays Jasmine, a waspy New Yorker married to a "Bernie Madoff-esque" financier (Alec Baldwin) who kills himself after being arrested for some unsavory deals.  Jasmine, unable to cope and recovering from a nervous breakdown, leaves the Big Apple for San Francisco to live with her sister Ginger.  Thus...the story now begins.  Time to Cate to dust off that mantel to make room for yet another Oscar-winning performance.

The film's title is derived from a combination of a song "Blue Moon" and the lead character's name of Jasmine, which often times is babbled in a Blanche Dubois-esque manner by the lead character in several scenes.

Alec Baldwin certainly has a fan in Woody Allen, as this is his sophomore appearance as a deceased character (the first being his character in  TO ROME WITH LOVE).  Bobby Carnavale (who is mostly frequently seen on the Broadway stage) is letting us have it with his muscles and passionate blue-collar performance as the mechanic and fiancé of Ginger.

However, the surprise performance comes from comedian turned actor Andrew "Dice" Clay.  He convincingly captures the essence of a blue-collar worker, who has been totally broken down due to "dreams deferred like a raisin in the sun".  I suspect Oscar will come knocking at his door as well.

BLUE JASMINE is in limited release in only six theaters between New York and Los Angeles.  Sony Pictures Classic will release it worldwide on August 23, 2013.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_f--aY0poI

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

The Season of Documentaries

In a summer where blockbusters and sequels tend to dominate the box office, this summer is shedding the light on some very interesting documentaries that I have had to the opportunity to screen and review.  I am taking this opportunity to remind you all about these extraordinary films and encouraging you to check them out at a theatre near you.  You can also check out the reviews of them all right here on CarlaRenatasCorner.Image THE GIRLS IN THE BAND has been extended for its sixth week in Laemmle Theatrers in Southern California and has developed an unwavering flow of loyal followers!  Director Judy Chaiken chronicles the desires of many women who endured racism, prejudice from their male counterparts and in some instances their own families to pursue the first love of their lives...playing music.  You can order a copy of the film and obtain more info about the film at www.thegirlsintheband.com.

20 FEET FROM STARDOM sheds light on the world of background singers who are striving to get the solo careers of the stars they back up and never quite get to center stage.  The film focuses on Lisa Fischer, Darlene Love, Judith Hill and Merry Clayton.  Each one of these women are brilliant vocal stylists who deserved to be megastars, but due to limitations in a youth driven industry the stars were slowly but surely dimmed.  The soundtrack is toe-tapping and makes you want to dance right there in the movie theaters. 20 FEET FROM STARDOM is playing across the country in limited release.

DARK GIRLS, the new documentary directed by Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry, delves into the taboo subject of dark skin vs light skin within the African-American community.  It has caused quite a stir to say the least.  So much so, that the duo is working on yet another taboo subject "light skin vs dark skin" called The Yellow Brick Road.  In addition, D. Channsin Berry is tackling the issue of gays in the church, "The Church House".  These men are brilliant and in the process of ruffling feathers are encouraging invigorating heated conversations within the African-American community.  Looking forward to even more from these guys.

Right on the heels of Wimbledon is the ESPN produced and Ava DuVernay directed VENUS VS.  As a young black woman with a desire to play tennis, Venus Williams was already working the odds against her.  VENUS VS sheds even more light on her personal and professional struggle, as well as, her struggle to obtain more pay for female players in general at Wimbledon.  It made me want to run out and get tennis lessons...LOL.

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

VENUS VS

Review of ESPN's Ava DuVernay directed VENUS VS. There is no argument that Venus Williams is one of the greatest female athletes to ever enter the sport of tennis.  What she had to endure to achieve that status and the fight she tackles on behalf of other female tennis players is absolutely fascinating..

Apparently, the fight for equality is an ongoing struggle for women in all walks of life, particularly the sports world.

From the first moment Venus and her sister Serena picked up tennis rackets as young aspiring Compton, California athletes, Venus has slayed the competition picking up 7 Grand Slam titles...22 overall.

Already dealing with the challenge of being an African-American female in a male dominated sport, Venus called out the tennis world for paying men higher prize money.  Just like being a girl from the hood didn't stop her from becoming a champion, Venus would not give up until the pay scale was balanced for both genders.

Director Ava DuVernay knows a little something about women, adversity and firsts.  She became the first African-American woman to  win Best Director at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.  So, it would only be fitting that Venus'  rise to tennis superstar,  her obstacles within the tennis world, relationships with her sister Serena, her Dad, her coaches and mentors are all documented with love and sensitivity by Miss DuVernay..

According to DuVernay, "Women are historically and currently paid substantially lower across the board worldwide than their male counterparts. But I think it is a little shocking to think that a sport that is on such a world stage, that has huge sponsors and huge superstars, since 1968 to 2007, that the women accepted being paid less.  We trace the history of it in the film. Billie Jean King stood up and said no, we want more, and she was able to incrementally get it up little by little, but it was never equal".

Venus Vs. is an awe-inspiring story of a woman he refused to give up and compromise.  To catch more of this fascinating doc, Tune into ESPN on July 2nd.

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

THE GIRLS IN THE BAND

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  During the evening broadcast of ABC7′s entertainment report by George Pinnachio, he mentioned a documentary centered around female band members from the 30′s until present called “The Girls In The Band”. I had intended to watch this film over the weekend, but was pleasantly surprised that when I went to a screening Monday evening, there was a Q&A with the film’s director Judy Chaiken. I also learned that this film was produced in part in association with Hugh Hefner. The Girls In The Band follows the journey of women wanting to play in big bands and when they weren’t allowed to play with the boys, they created their own big bands. Interviews were featured with some of those women, as well as, contemporary female artists like Patrice Rushen and Terri Lyn Carrington. These women endured not only the insulting behavior of the male contemporaries, but racism on the road when traveling through the Jim Crow south. I learned of a jazz festival that was created in Kansas City specifically for women.

I walked out of the theatre, inspired, educated and appalled that even in the 21st century there are some men that would rather see women cooking and having babies instead of pursuing a career based on an interest they love (so there…Jerry Lewis!!!!!)

Judy’s dream is to have this film win an Oscar, let us get the word out and do as much as possible to make her dream a reality. To learn more about the film, see a clip and find a theatre near you…log onto www.thegirlsintheband.com.

UPCOMING SCREENINGS SATURDAY and SUNDAY JULY 20 and 21 @ 11:00am

Exclusively at Laemmle’s PLAYHOUSE 7 IN PASADENA 673 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91101 310-478-3836 Director Judy Chaikin will conduct a Q&A at both the Saturday AND Sunday morning screenings

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Review of Documentary DARK GIRLS

Review of Documentary DARK GIRLS DARK GIRLS is a documentary by Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry that follows the stigma of dark skin vs. light skin within the African-American community.

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Review: 20 Feet From Stardom

Review: 20 Feet From Stardom 20 Feet From Stardom is a documentary that follows the lives of background singers who are just on the verge, but never quite achieve the dreams of solo superstardom.

MAGIC MIKE

Review: MAGIC MIKE

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Some girlfriends of mine (and my Mom) were very excited to see the new Channing Tatum film that revolved around male strippers.  These dolls couldn’t wait to see all the hot bodies teased in the movie trailers.  I have to admit, if my friends hadn’t wrangled me to the theatre I most likely would have skipped this flick.

Upon entering the theatre, it looked fairly empty for about five minutes.  At that moment, droves women in packs began to take their seats hooping and hollering the whole time.  If anything else, I thought I would be entertained by the moviegoers.

As it turned out, I was surprisingly entertained and let’s just say the six-pack abs, hot dance moves and screaming women in the theatre (my friends included) certainly helped.

Based on the real-life adventures of Channing Tatum as a once-upon-a-time male stripper, we follow his character Mike on a journey that follows him yearning to start a legitimate business as a furniture designer and packing away the cash for that dream as a male stripper.  Matthew McConaughey is hilariously, slimy as the strip joint owner and castmates Adam Rodriguiz, Matt Bomer, Alex Pettyfer and Joe Manganiello make all women wished it “rained men” on a 24-hour basis.

“Magic Mike” and the hype it provoked reminded me of a little film that made Jennifer Beals a star…”Flashdance”.  The dance numbers were perfectly costumed to make it look as if we were watching a Broadway caliber male strip show.  Ironically enough, “Magic Mike” is slated to open on Broadway in summer 2013 with its star and director Steven Soderbergh on board along with screenwriter Reid Carolin and producers Gregory Jacobs and Nick Wechsler.  Few details about the production have been released other than Reid Carolin will write the book and that there will most likely be half-naked, hot, men with six-pack abs.

Get those dollar bills ready ladies…can you say “The Full Monty”…well, almost.

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

TO ROME WITH LOVE

Ok...let me just get it out-of-the-way. I may be one of the ONLY African-Americans who is a diehard Woody Allen fan!! My love affair began with Hannah and Her Sisters, Bullets Over Broadway and now To Rome WIth Love.   With a stellar cast including Jesse Eisenberg "The Social Network", Ellen Page "Juno", Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni (remember him jumping over seats at the Oscars), Judy Davis, Greta Gerwig, Penelope Cruz and Woody Allen himself the performances alone are worth the movie ticket.  Kudos to casting directors, Juliet Taylor. Rome is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the way it is captured on film by Darius Khondji is enough to make you want to book an Italian vacation...yesterday!!!

The one thing all these story lines have in common are love and desire.  I especially love how Woody gets his digs in with how reality television, its content and participants have taken over pop culture.  As seen when we watch Leopoldo Pisanello (Roberto Benigni), an ordinary Roman who suddenly finds himself to be one of the most talked about men in Rome. Leopoldo has no talent, is a common, ordinary person, who at first is totally bewildered and annoyed by all the attention he's getting and then starts — without even realizing—revels in it.  His "celebrity" disappears as soon as the "next big thing" comes along, and Pisanello finds himself missing all the attention.

On the flip side of Leopoldo is Giancarlo (renowned tenor Fabio Armiliato), a man who is  a brilliant opera singer who sings only privately for his own enjoyment and has never tried it in public.   Giancarlo can only sing under very special circumstances...in the shower.   It sort of reminds of NBC's "The Voice", where the contestants are only heard and not seen.  Hi-larious!!!  To further complicate the situation Jerry (Woody Allen) tries desperately to make Giancarlo a star, much to the detriment of his future son-in-law (Flavio Parenti) in order to resurrect his career as a retired recording exec.

Another character in TO ROME WITH LOVE, Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi), arrives in Rome with her new husband Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) in search of a new life in the big city. Everything depends on the impression they make on Antonio's wealthy relatives, who are in the position to give him a high-level job. Shortly after arrival in an effort to look her best, Milly sets out for a hairdresser, but gets hopelessly lost in the streets of Rome.  It reminded me of how when you ask three people for directions...you get three different sets, none of which get you any closer to your destination.  Frustrated, annoyed and with no cell phone, she accidentally stumbles on a film set with her favorite male film star.

At the same time, Antonio is surprised in his hotel room by the appearance of Anna (Penélope Cruz), a voluptuous call girl who mistakenly believes she has been hired to have sex with him. Protesting profusely, Antonio suddenly finds himself forced on the bed in a compromising position that his relatives find him when they arrive at his hotel room. Antonio explains that Anna IS actually his wife Milly. While Anna is willing to play along and say she is Antonio's wife, this doesn't mean she will alter her behavior, which sets the stage for many comic situations. Penelope Cruz is brilliant and makes you want to never leave a gym if you could walk around with a body like hers.

Last and definitely not least, is the character John (Alec Baldwin) who finds himself looking back in his young life in Rome to a moment in time where he hopelessly fell in love with his fiancé's Sally (Greta Gerwig) best friend Monica played deliciously by Ellen Page.  It's amazing what lust and curiosity can do to a man when faced with certain situations and women.  Jesse Eisenberg uses that nerdy, nervous persona to his ultimate advantage in his portrayal of Jack, which has us rooting for him in the end.

Woody Allen's unique and genius way of telling the "human" story of how we are all just ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances always simultaneously provides some laughter, self-loathing and self-examination.

Put this film on your "to-do"list this summer and I wouldn't be surprised if some Oscar nods come his way...yet again.

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Review: ROCK OF AGES

 

Director Adam Shankman, is single-handedly becoming responsible for a resurgence in musicals on the small and large screens.  For that, we give him a big heartily…Thank You!  Having said that, while watching the film version of ROCK OF AGES, I annoyed, but not surprised that not more of the Broadway cast was utilized for the film version. Tony Nominee, Constantine Maroulis was given a cameo in a thankless role as Record executive board member and all I could think of was how awkward that must’ve been for him to create the role on Broadway, get nominated for a Tony and watch someone else do it on-screen. Anywhoo…enough of my personal rant with how Hollywood often produces plays and musical for the screen with big names to make a buck…yeah I said it!!!!

Rock of Ages has a paper-thin plot that we have seen a million times before (most recently in Burlesque). This time the ingenue is former Dancing With The Stars champion Julianne Hough. Portraying a girl from the south coming to Los Angeles with big dreams of stardom and to visit the legendary Bourbon Room. However, as usual, with me there is always a pivotal moment when I start to perk up. This time it was when Catharine Zeta-Jones showed up singing pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” in a pink church suit and hysterically executing choreography from “Thriller”. Russell Brand was hysterical reminding me of a younger, hipper version of the late Dudley Moore. Alec Baldwin was equally comical as an overweight, gay has-been rock bar owner. My favorite parts of this film were the 80’s rock music and of course TOM CRUISE. His portrayal of burned out rock superstar Stacee Jaxx is absolutely brilliant!! He gives you just the right amount of comedy, mixed with crazy…I loved it!!!

Not a big fan of this one, but was very entertained and taken back to my youth with all the rock music featured by JOURNEY, FOREIGNER, PAT BENATAR, TWISTED SISTER, REO SPEEDWAGON and others.

Rock on dudes and catch this one on Netflix….!!!!

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

THE TONY AWARDS 2012

Earlier this afternoon I was channel surfing and landed on the Ovation channel where they were showing A CHORUS LINE...THE MOVIE. What perfect movie to be screening on the same day as the evening telecast of the 2012 TONY AWARDS. So many memories flooded through my mind while watching this film. Mostly, how sad I was that one of the most brilliant dancers I ever had the pleasure to watch and meet, Gregg Burge is no longer with us. Gone waaaay too soon:( I was also reminded that this was the first film of my dear friend and fellow St. Louisan Janet Jones, who is now known as the wife of award-winning hockey player Wayne Gretzky.

Back in St. Louis, Janet and I were two of many hopefuls wishing and dreaming about being on Broadway. Janet went on to become a featured dancer on the 70's hit disco show DANCE FEVER and the films STAYING ALIVE, A CHORUS LINE and a few more before her path would lead her to fall in love with Wayne Gretzky. I eventually moved to New York to pursue my dream of singing and dancing on Broadway after graduating from Howard University.

It would be 7 years of performing on cruise ships, USO Tours, national tours, regional theatre, singing back-up around NYC in cabaret shows for my friends and working as an entertainment publicist before I would finally get a break. I was cast in the ensemble of the Tony winning hit THE WHO'S TOMMY 1st National Tour and had the extra bonus of understudying the role of the Acid Queen. I left TOMMY to make my Broadway debut in the ensemble of a revival of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, where I got the opportunity to work with Matthew Broderick, Megan Mullally, LIllias White, Jeff Blumenkrantz, Sarah Jessica Parker, John Stamos, Victoria Clark, Martin Moran and some of the most fabulous ensemble members on Broadway at the time who were all the true meaning of a "triple threat". Not to mention having the opportunity to execute the choreography of the fabulous Wayne Cilento and be directed for the second time by Des McAnuff. I will be forever grateful to them both for making my dream a reality.

Opening on Broadway was exciting, exhausting and a dream come true!!! I learned about and got to participate in the such rituals as Gypsy Of The Year, Easter Bonnet Competition, Gypsy Robe Presentation, THE TONYS, going in the studio to record on my first cast album and participating in the most important ritual of all...understudy rehearsal....LOL. Let's just say all that activity assisted me in maintaining a size 2, the likes of which I have not seen since becoming a transplant in Los Angeles....LOL.

Tonight, I am excited for my colleagues and friends Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald for their nominations. Norm, Audra and myself all came to New York at the same time. I would hear through the grapevine about Audra and her amazing voice. I remember being called in to audition for a national tour of The Secret Garden, which luckily for Audra I cancelled at the last minute...LOL. It was that show tour, which started her on her way to the brilliance we are able to witness today.

Norm and I would meet like most actors...at an audition.. Over the years we have become great friends running into each other at many more auditions and have many, many mutual friends in common. The last time I saw Norm, he was contemplating staying in LA to pursue a television career. Thank goodness he stayed in New York, so thousands can enjoy him opposite Audra in the revival of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.

The theater is my first love as it was on the stage that I learned to foster my imagination, creativity and it affords me the opportunity to work when the television folks stop calling...Please keep live theater a viable source of entertainment and support plays and musicals when they hit a city near you!!!

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Review: THE HUNGER GAMES

Unlike most of the people who will be reading this blog, this film vaguely reminded me of a film I saw back in the day called “Logan’s Run” starring Farrah Fawcett and Michael York. It too was a sci-fi flick that dealt with life in the 23rd century where humans were free to just live…that is unless you were 30. Once you turned 30, you were terminated during a ceremony called Carousel. Of course, who wants to be snuffed out at 30, so some folks tried to run only to be tracked down by the Sandman and killed. Needless to say, very intense for my little teen age brain at the time. Also, unlike most, I did not have the good fortune of reading the book THE HUNGER GAMES until after I viewed the fillm, which being a sci-fi, adventure, thriller kind of gal I thouroughly enjoyed. What I did not enjoy was while reading the book, I learned that the lead character, Katniss Everdeen portrayed wonderfully by Jennifer Lawrence in the film version, was of native american descent. I have to say that beng an African American actress, I was a little annoyed that Katniss couldn’t have been Zoe Saldana or another woman of color. Now, that I have had my two cents to say about that. let me get back to “The Hunger Games…LOL. As I mentioned, this film is set in the future where the Capitol chooses a boy and a girl from twelve districts to fight live on tv. Without totally ruining the plot for those who may not have seen the film. Katniss is faced with serious decisions concerning family and friendship. I was engrossed by the storyline, largely due to the brilliant screen adapatation by Gary Ross, Billy Ray and Hunger Games novelist Suzanne Colins. All of the acting performances were intense, strong and believeable, but my favorites were Stanley Tucci’s character…Caesar Flickerman, who served as the host for the fighting festivities and Lenny Kravitz, who between this performance as the fighting stylist Cinna and his lovely warm portrayal as Nurse John in “Precious” is really becoming quite a fine actor. I was particularly moved by the young lady who expressed such depth as young Rue, Amandla Stenberg. Keep an eye out for that little doll:). Anywhoo…loved, loved, loved this film and can’t wait for the sequel in 2013.

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!