Black or White

Black or White

At a recent Q&A I attended with Costner, he said it best, "I'm fully aware of the fact that because I am a 6'1" white man that makes it easier for me to work in Hollywood than others...that doesn't make it right".  He further said that the only way this would change is "by having more actors behind the scenes writing and producing".  He boldly declared that if he believed in a script strongly enough he was "willing to make that long walk down the hall to get it made".

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2014 Toronto Film Festival

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Toronto is the king of the fall festivals, with a lineup of 285 features and 108 shorts. Here are 25 films that are must-seees...

 

wild-reese-witherspoonWILD  -  Jean-Marc Vallee directed Matthew McConaughey to an Oscar in last year's Toronto drama "Dallas Buyers Club," and now he's made Reese Witherspoon a real contender for "Wild," based on the Cheryl Strayed memoir.

 

tiff-missjulieMISS JULIE -Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell star in "Miss Julie," an adaptation of the Strindberg drama from actress-turned-director Liv Ullman.

tiff-theoryofeverythingJames Marsh's "The Theory of Everything" stars Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking and Felicity Jones as his wife Jane.

Look_Of_SilenceJoshua Oppenheimer won an Oscar nomination for his chilling documentary about the Indonesian genocide, "The Act of Killing" -- and his new film, "The Look of Silence," tells another side of the same story.

tiff-rosewaterHere's what Jon Stewart did on his summer vacation from "The Daily Show" last year: He directed Gael Garcia Bernal in the true-life, Iran-set drama "Rosewater."

 

tiff-stvincentBill Murray makes a rare appearance in Theodore Melfi's "St. Vincent" as a cranky old man who becomes a reluctant companion to Melissa McCarthy's son.

tiff-menwomenandchildrenJason Reitman brings most of his films to his hometown of Toronto, and his cross-generational drama "Men, Women & Children" will premiere in his favorite theater, the Ryerson.

tiff-imitationgameBenedict Cumberbatch won immediate Oscar buzz when Morten Tyldum's World War II drama "The Imitation Game," about the man who broke the German Enigma code but was persecuted for being gay, premiered in Telluride.

tiff-thejudgeToronto's opening night film, David Dobkin's "The Judge," boasts the powerhouse acting combo of Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall.

tiff-50yearargumentMartin Scorsese isn't touring the mean streets with "The 50 Year Argument" -- instead, he and co-director David Tedeschi have made a documentary about the New York Review of Books.

tiff-topfiveChris Rock wrote, directed and starred in "Top Five," in which he plays a New York comic coming to terms with his life.

 

 

 

 

tiff-loveandmercyPaul Dano and John Cusak play the troubled Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson at different ages in Bill Pohlad's "Love and Mercy."

tiff-killmethreetimesBrit Simon Pegg has two films in Toronto -- "Hector and the Search for Happiness" (not pictured) and the cartoonishly brutal and funny "Kill Me Three Times," where he plays an implacable hitman.

tiff-blackandwhiteOctavia Spencer and Kevin Costner are in a custody battle in Mike Binder's "Black and White," based on experiences from the director's life.

tiff-whilewereyoungDirector Noah Baumbach ("Frances Ha") has recruited Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts to star in "While We're Young" as a middle-aged couple whose marriage is tested when they meet a younger couple.

 

 

tiff-merchantofdoubtThe business of providing naysayers on issues like climate change is uncovered by "Food, Inc." director Robert Kenner in "Merchants of Doubt."

tiff-timeoutofmind"The Messenger" director Oren Moverman's "Time Out of Mind" stars Richard Gere as a homeless man trying to reconnect with his daughter.

 

tiff-pawnsacrificeLiev Schreiber plays Boris Spassky and Tobey Maguire is Bobby Fischer in Ed Zwick's "Pawn Sacrifice," a film about their epic chess match.

tiff-riot"An Education" director Lone Scherfig examines the class system at Oxford in "The Riot Club," about two new recruits joining a raucous upper-crust club.

tif-tuskKevin Smith should be right at home in TIFF's Midnight Madness section with "Tusk," a dark comedy about a podcast host slowly going crazy.

tiff-cakeJennifer Aniston has a chance to show off her dramatic chops in "Cake," in which she plays a member of a chronic-pain support group investigating the suicide of a fellow member (Anna Kendrick).

tiff-thedropBelgian director Michael Roskam became a hot property after his Oscar-nominated "Bullhead," and he's made his English-language debut with "The Drop," featuring Tom Hardy and, in his final screen appearance, James Gandolfini.

tiff-songoftheseaIrish director Tomm Moore won a surprise Oscar nomination for "The Secret of Kells" in 2010, and he's back using hand-drawn animation to illustrate Irish myths in "Song of the Sea."

tiff-electricboogaloo"Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films" is the second documentary to examine the freewheeling '80s studio known for action flicks.

tiff-bovariesTwo TIFF films are based on the same Flaubert book: Sophie Barthes' period drama "Madame Bovary," with Mia Wasikowska, and Anne Fontaine's modern-day "Gemma Bovery," with Gemma Arterton.

Utopia-Fox"Utopia" (Fox), Sept. 7 at 8/7c Pioneers will begin a new civilization off-the-grid in Southern California, where they will live, survive and -- hopefully -- thrive for a full calendar year. Fox will live-stream the happenings around-the-clock.

Review : GET ON UP

"Mr. Dynamite", "The Godfather of Soul", "The Hardest Working Man In Show Business" only described one entertainer...the incomparable, irreplaceable James Brown.  Who doesn't remember that parody of him done by Eddie Murphy on "Saturday Night Live" complete with horn section and that famous pompadour hairdo? Unknown-1You couldn't turn  a radio on in cities across the nation in the 60's and 70's without hearing that famous squeal yelling "I'm Black and I'm Proud", Get On Up" or "The Big Payback - Side 1 & 2".  A scene depicted in the movie recreating a performance at the "world famous" Apollo Theatre is remembered well by my Mom, who was there that night and walked out on 125th to see Malcolm X on a box preaching down the street.  Man, those were the good old days.

Get On Up whips us into a hurricane of the musical career of James Brown and what a ride it is!  Chadwick Boseman is electrifying in the title role taking on the very embodiment of the "Godfather of Soul".  For someone who had never danced before, Boseman does a tremendous job at Brown's signature slides and splits.  He was so convincing, that one would've thought he may have actually been doing the singing (alas he was lip-syncing to Brown's tracks).  Unknown

Viola Davis just can't seem to turn in a bad performance - EVER!!!  One of the most touching and memorable moments in the film are the scenes with her and Boseman as a young James Brown and later as an adult after his infamous Apollo performance.  There are brief cameo appearances by Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, Allison Janney, Jill Scott, Dan Akroyd, Aunjanue Ellis, Craig Robinson and Tika Sumpter, but I feel as though their characters were not fully flushed out or those scenes were left on the cutting room floor.

As a whole, I enjoyed learning some things I didn't know about Brown's upbringing in Augusta, GA, but was not surprised about most things that plagued most artists of superstar status such as drugs, money and domestic issues.  I was particularly moved by the recreation of the Boston concert the night Dr. Martin Luther King was slain and the recording session with little children for "I'm Black and I'm Proud".

The film in its final edited stages felt very disjointed in the storytelling of flipping back and forth between Brown's early years, years that focused on the musical career highlights and years in which he is clearly a little older, but still pulling a crowd

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James Brown was an entertainer that instilled and inspired the African-American culture for centuries to be proud of their heritage and wear it like a "badge of honor".  He never backed down in his personal or professional life, even when there were some that accused him of "selling out" -- he kept it moving with a smile of pride and confidence.   Brown is single-handedly responsible for the dance moves and/or careers of such musical heavy weights as Mick Jagger (who was also Executive Producer of this film), Usher, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake and the the list goes on... It was a pleasure to know that now a whole new generation will learn of his sacrifice in being one of the first.

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If you love James Brown, you will enjoy listening to his hits and watching Chadwick Boseman bring him back to life if only for a little while.  Get On Up is in theaters now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FLBkvQ72Xw

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!

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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!!!