Posts from the ‘Film’ Category

LIYANA ~ A Must See Film

Rarely are we privileged enough to see a film having not been inundated (for months sometimes) with previews that show and tell way too much. (I’ll never understand this.) Independent films have a curse and a blessing—no deep pockets to flood the market with previews means the story is guarded and fresh for first time viewers. This was my experience with LIYANA: a spectacular, vastly original film, the likes of which you have never seen. I suggest that you not watch a trailer or read a review. Just find a way to see this film, even if it means hosting a screening at a school, church, town hall, gallery… Read more…

Welcome Wakanda!

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Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa. All Black Panther photos: ©Marvel Comics



‘Bout time!

As Whoopi Goldberg said on The View, I have been waiting 25 years for this movie. And then along comes Black Panther, satisfying yearnings I didn’t know I had until seeing them realized in 3-D splendor. If you skip the trailer, there are no spoilers in my homage to director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station and Creed) and his phenomenal story, cast and crew.

Like the documentary I featured a few weeks ago, Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, in Coogler’s hands, Black Panther takes the moral and artistic high ground, using filmic elements of humor and innuendo to land succinct attacks on the oppressive slave narrative—a story we know all too well—and move on. For that I am most grateful.

“What’s so special about this film is that we see an idyllic society that has figured out its gender dynamics where women are allowed to assume their power, realize their full potential and the men are not threatened by it so that they can be of support to each other—which is the world we want to see.”— Lupita Nyong’o, on The View

How could we know that when our black superhero savior finally arrived he would be armed with not only vibranium, but a cast of powerful women, who like him, possess coolness, swagger and such beyond-Bond gizmos that, had I not been reclined in the new Loungers at Rowland Cinema in Novato, I would have fallen out of my seat.

“You create excellence it’ll be responded to. I’m thankful that Mr. Coogler and Marvel got together and created excellence. [the response] makes sense to me, I think we’ve been yearning for it.”— Danai Gurira, on The View

L-R: Danai Gurira (Okoye); Lupita Nyong’o, (Nakia)

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The illustrious Angela Bassett as matriarch, Ramonda.

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Latitia Wright as technogoddess, Shuri.

Of course, there’s no escaping violence in a super hero movie—sadly true these days for nearly any film you see—but Black Panther has one scene that crosses even that line for me. Since I have close to zero tolerance for violence in films, I’ll close my eyes next time. In his review, David Edelstein sites a “few sub-par computer effects” and I could surf and see what that’s about but—who cares!!? Black Panther does not disappoint and I can’t wait to see this already iconic film again. Altogether, right now: let’s cross our fisted arms over my chest and repeat after me: Wakanda forever!…


Director, co-writer, Ryan Coogler. Photo: Washington Post/Getty Images

RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World (mind-blowing film)

REDBONE: 1970s American Indian rock group featured in the 2017 documentary: RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World

In Memory of John Trudell

Thank you, RUMBLE, for taking the high road. 

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Must-see Film ~ Screening in Albany, Georgia: Tuesday, 9/12/17


Albany Civil Rights Institute Presents Award-Winning Civil Rights Documentary & Discussion Featuring Several Black Albanians, Filmmaker

The Albany Civil Rights Institute will present an award-winning civil rights film, featuring multiple black Albanians, who fought on the front lines of the bloodiest campaign of the entire Civil Rights Movement.

                  The Institute will present the hour-long documentary, Passage at St. Augustine: The 1964 That Transformed America™, Tuesday, September 12, 2017 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at 326 Whitney Avenue, Albany, GA 31701. The program will feature filmmaker Clennon L. King, and is free and open to the public. Read more…

Get Out ~ A Quantum Leap for Film Genre

Writer/Director Jordan Peele

Anita: Get Out is one small step for The Stepford Wives and a quantum leap for the film genre.

A group of five of us went to see the new film Get Out yesterday —all of us people of color and none of us fans of horror films. I purposefully did not watch the trailer—they give away way too much (what’s up with that anyway?)—nor did I read any reviews so I could freshly appreciate the story. Bottom line: wow.

Peele crafted the film’s social/artistic/psychological layers brilliantly, and took his time with pacing, allowing faces to fill the frame and build tension. The hero, Chris Washington was portrayed flawlessly by British actor, Daniel Kaluuya who can show so much with a glance and a smirk. My biggest wish was for more black characters to put more black actors on the payroll—nevertheless the entire cast did a fine job.

We saw the film at Rowland Theater in Novato, CA: went to a 2:20 showing, there were only a handful of people most over sixty and white (parr for Marin County, northern California). Afterwards we went to Moylan’s Brewery for drinks and a bite to discuss. Well, we had not stopped discussing from the time we rose from our seats and walked across the street, through the doors and into the booth. When our blond-haired waitress greets us the first thing she says is “Did you just see Get Out?… favorite movie right now! One of the other waitresses and I went to see it yesterday and when we came out we didn’t speak for twenty minutes. All we could say was, ‘What just happened?'”

As we were leaving the theater (to the horror of the others in my party) I asked the three white folk—a man and two women—sitting in the row in front of us what their verdict was. The man said, “That was two hours of my life I can never get back.” One of the women said, “I thought it was wonderful!” I think it would’ve been fun to invite them to join us across the street—but—maybe not.

I get that we need to label stuff so we can talk about it, but Peele has us struggling with what to call this innovative film. Without strictly succumbing to the conventions of horror or thriller or comedy or drama, and without overwhelming viewers in reenactments of the real life terrors of the film’s major themes, Get Out melds—via its image system, symbolism, and nuance—the seen and the unseen; the spoken and unspoken to yield a story with outstanding visceral impact.

I was a huge fan of Key & Peele on Comedy Central and can now see that all those clever, finely produced skits (and perhaps especially Season 3 which was too gory for my taste)  prepared Peele for this triumphant debut as feature-length writer/director.

This was definitely two hours of my life I can’t wait to repeat.

Here are two of my favorite skits from Key & Peele on Comedy Central:

Substitute Teacher:

Obama’s Anger Translator:

Don’t Be a Sucker

Don’t Be a Sucker is a short propaganda film produced by the U.S. War Department, released on July 4, 1943 and re-released in 1947. It has anti-racist and anti-fascist themes. The film was supposedly created to make the case for the desegregation of the United States armed forces [paradoxically I dare say] but ultimately upholds America as a nation of minorities that must unite in order to thrive. It’s terrifying that seventy years later the film’s messages are all too relevant. [17:26 minutes] Please share this with your people everywhere:

Read more…

Amen, Dame Meryl


Meryl Streep at the 74th Golden Globes in Beverly Hills, CA, Sun, Jan 8th. Credit Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Last night, excepting her Lifetime Achievement Award, Mary Louise “Meryl” Streep delivered a dynamic speech at the 2017 Golden Globes, eloquently expressing her heart break over Trump politics and her hope in spite of it. We’ll be hurting for a while—grief doesn’t disappear over night, you have to work through it—and it helps to connect with others, listen and read good wise words, make art.

Feeling the paradox of life, after three score and two years on the planet, I look around for the first few days of 2017 and feel I’ve lived too long. My cataracted eyes has already seen too much and I cannot abide that which my ears are sometime forced to hear.

Read more…

Oscars Aren’t the [Only] Problem ~ Let’s look at Hollywood, and Ourselves

Hattie McDaniels 1st black to win an Oscar ~ Role: Mammy in Gone With the Wind, 1939

Hattie McDaniel, 1895-1952
1st black to win an Oscar ~
Role: Mammy, Gone With the Wind, 1939


Dorothy Dandridge 1922-1965

Dorothy Dandridge, 1922-1965 1st black woman nominated for Best Actress in Leading Role as Carmen Jones in Carmen Jones, 1954

I’m guilty. I like Oscar parties. Dress up, eat fancy hors d’oeuvres, drink champagne and maybe even walk down an imitation of THE red carpet. Fun night. While we’re at it let’s also take a serious look at what role we movie consumers play in feeding the gross injustices reflected on the silver screen when it comes to whites—from the casting room to the cutting room—vs people of (any) color.

Read more…


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See the documentary, #chicagogirl, on Netflix Instant Play.

11.9.15 ~ Today I met Ala’a Basatneh, 23-year-old Syrian expatriate who lives with her parents and brother in a suburb of Chicago. When she was 19—a college freshman—she ran a revolution in Syria from her bedroom using Facebook, Twitter and Skype.

Watched the documentary, #chicagogirl—directed by Joe Piscatella—with a group of northern California high schoolers followed by Q & A and small group discussions with Ala’a ~ such a presence, so inspiring; a true personification of the Citizen Warrior.
~ Anita


Ala’a & Anita at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael, CA.

Ala’a started on Facebook with 60 friends and a desire to help the citizen journalists on the ground in Syria—having no idea or plan on how to do that. She didn’t even know what a Tweet was. She connected with many and lost many to the violent acts of the Assad regime.

When asked when did she realize how important she had become to the uprising she answered, “When I was talking with 6-7 people [on the ground in Syria] at once ~ on Twitter, Facebook, Skype ~ then all of a sudden I realized I really was making a difference.” ~ Ala’a

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See the documentary, #chicagogirl, on Netflix Instant Play.
Watch the trailer here:

In memory of Ala’a friends ~
Syrian filmmaker/Syracuse University student, Bassel Shehadeh
Syrian activist/engineering studentMazhar “Omar” Tayyara


Ava DuVernay ~ Film Director (Selma)


Ava DuVernay directing film, Selma. ~ Photo by Atsushi Nishijima/Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Ava DuVernay directing film, Selma. ~ Photo by Atsushi Nishijima/Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Ava DuVernay…where have you been all my life??

This dynamic woman understands something my friend and editor A.J. Verdelle preaches all the time: Clarity is not negotiable. In her recent Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross, DuVernay was very clear about her artistic vision for the film, Selma: with regard to Oyelowo’s portrayal of King, it was never to be about mimicry; and as for the “facts” of history, she is more interested in the truth.

We’ve been on the planet long enough to know history is not everything that happened, it’s everything that was written down and we must always—always—consider the source.

This is a quick post to shine a light on the woman behind the work and to set a few things straight. There’s quite a buzz around a lot of things.

Here’s the truth (which we got wrong in my last post) about why King’s original speeches weren’t used in the film: DuVernay told Terry Gross that the rights to the speeches are held by another filmmaker and they didn’t ask for rights because it did not fit their $20 million budget.

DuVernay was co-writer of the screenplay but did not get the credit because it was in original writer, George Pelecano’s contract to retain that right. That’s OK. In the end she also became the speech writer for her Dr. King and those speeches capture the power and spirit of the man and fit remarkably well with the vision to not mimic the icon.

Below is a nice treat: a chance to see and hear cast members, producers and director ~

Published on Dec 18, 2014: The full press conference for Selma with David Oyelowo, Jeremy Kleiner, Oprah Winfrey, Tim Roth, Common, Tom Wilkinson, Dede Gardner, Carmen Egojo, Andrew Holland and director Ava DuVernay:

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