Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

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Prototype 3010 [A Short Film]

March 19, 2011

One of my favorite male vocalists (who I wrote about some months ago), Jesse Boykins III, has dropped a visual component to his take on Andre 3000’s love anthem “Prototype” from 2004.  Already a stirring track from the ATLien, Boykins really shows musically how one can respect the integrity of an original piece, reinterpret it & emit a unique beauty that both pays homage to its creator and establishes one’s own artistic capability, without the crutch of a cover.  Bottom line is kids, it’s dope.

Check out the impressive short film that accompanies the track below.

Follow Jesse Boykins III on Twitter (@Jb3music) & check out his official Tumblr here.

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A Perfect Self

December 19, 2010

The intertwining of life and art is often best seen on a canvas or heard over an instrumental in a recording studio.  Often times we hear a performer tell us that their product is a direct reflection of their life.  Rarely do we believe it.  For a character like Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), her product is her dance and her life becomes her dance creating quite the startling product for artistic consumption…and, boy, do we believe it.  In “Black Swan”, an arresting and overwhelming film by Darren Aronofsky (the man who brought us “Requiem for a Dream”), we are introduced to Sayers, a conflicted ballerina on the brink of stardom in New York City.

When cast in the lead role of “Swan Lake,” Nina begins the task of embodying the duality of the Swan Queen, a role that requires her natural innocence combined with a dark sensuality she doesn’t quite understand.  What unravels can only be described as Nina’s twisted journey for perfection and the horrific depths that it leads her to.  Her product, her proof of talent, becomes the sad sacrifice of her sanity.

Portman drives herself to extensive lengths to quietly and eerily give a performance so powerful that it will undoubtedly earn her an Academy Award.  As Nina, Portman gives herself up to dance with as much thought as she utilized in developing her consistently impressive filmography.  Her voice is tiny and her quick breaths while dancing or while overcome with emotion become their own lines of dialogue. The moments when Portman stands trying to catch her breath become the moments where we find her character the most transparent. Paired with an unexpectedly strong Mila Kunis as Lily, her rival and the obvious personification of the Black Swan, the two have a chemistry that vacillates between icy and kinetic.  With Lily’s arrival comes Nina’s downward spiral and her sickness creeps up on viewers with a slow moving ease.  A wild night out between the two then accelerates the film from a safe 5 miles over the speed limit to a dangerous triste with a world Nina never allowed herself to enjoy or create for herself.  Throw in a hypersexual, power-hungry artistic director (Vincent Cassel), a silently envious mother hoping to vicariously finish her career through her daughter’s (played amazingly well by Barbara Hershey) and a prima donna dethroned (Winona Ryder) and you’ve got a cast so strong it could make any director weak.


Cinematically, the film gives a gritty, harsh look to Nina’s world.  What could have easily been glossed over and color enhanced actually became frantic and at moments painful to watch.  The calculated use of mirrors and dim lighting gives the film a horror-genre feel that works well amidst the heavy content.  Subliminal costuming and set aesthetic place the dichotomy of Nina’s purity and Lily’s raucousness at a visual forefront.  It all seems so real but equally so put together.  Aronofsky often chooses to avoid the pretty in favor of the uncomfortable resulting in scenes that feel so authentic its bordelines on awkward.  In addition, Nina’s constantly building hallucinations never depart from the shakiness of her normalcy.  We see what Nina sees and aren’t given a heads up that we may be viewing something beyond the truth.  Therefore, Nina’s world becomes unexpectedly our own and Nina’s desire to differentiate between the truth and the imaginary becomes the conflict of our own interpretation…and It’s scary as fuck.

The film’s conclusion is as beautiful as it is exhausting.  The dance sequence that ends the film is meticulously chaotic, a silly oxymoron to try and deduce if you haven’t seen the film.  The culmination of Aronofsky’s creation packs a large punch and leaves the viewer with a haunting commentary on the quest for perfection and the gruesome extent to which we will give of ourselves to acquire it, regardless of its necessity.  “Black Swan” is hard to describe without cheapening it’s power but the film does go to great lengths to personify the yearning for balance amidst all aspects of ourselves for the sake of an art…the truest art…the art of maintaining.  It is the film’s elegant way of achieving this that makes it one of the year’s best and one of the most artistically adventurous films in recent years.
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Ruffling Feathers

November 19, 2010

I don’t think I’ve disliked a Natalie Portman film in the past 10 years.  This upcoming film, Black Swan, looks to keep that trend going.  The film which revolves around Portman as a ballerina has been getting rave reviews.  This week, another poster was released in promotion of the film.  The posters that have been leaked thus far are absolutely stunning.  I want all of them on my walls.

The film is said to be equally stunning.  Here’s a snippet of the storyline, courtesy of IMDB.

Nina (Portman) is a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her obsessive former ballerina mother Erica (Hershey) who exerts a suffocating control over her. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Ryder) for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily (Kunis), who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side – a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.

The movie will be hitting theaters in December of this year.  Support strong actors and strong films.  We don’t need the “Due Date” movies of the world to outshine the rest.

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When ambition isn’t ‘enuf’…

November 7, 2010

Powerful words can always be powerful words.  When written, when sung, when thought, when spoken.  The context in which those words are placed may cloud the conviction and confuse its receiver but the heart of the locution remains full of possibility.  In the same way that Shakespeare’s classics maintain their integrity hundreds of years after they were written, despite misguided reincarnations and lackluster reimaginations, Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” can depend solely on its skeletal literary genius to carry it through rehashing and excerpting.  So it becomes impossible for me to completely shun a film adaptation of Shange’s tour-de-force, for it still finds Shange’s words in proper form.

Tyler Perry attempted an ambitious feat when taking on, the now shortened, “For Colored Girls” as a silver screen project.  Turning a performance piece composed of 20 poems with characters who identify themselves by colors and not names is no easy task -– and perhaps it was an unnecessary one.  The film finds Perry in his best filmmaking form but that simply isn’t enough to keep up with the sophistication of Shange’s work.  Given the arduous duty of making a cohesive film out of the separated beauty of the play is to be credited.  The credit seemingly ends there.  Perry’s ability to capture the plight of these women while developing a unified story becomes almost as fantastical his Madea money train.  It is as if he was given all of the important tools to succeed but realized how over his head he was after the first scene.

(Spoiler alert.  Click to keep reading…)

Read the rest of this entry ?

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“I feel so much yummier.”

September 26, 2010

Michelle Pfeiffer is, and will always be, the quintessential Catwoman.  Never has there been an actress who fully captured the psychological conflict between Selina Kyle and antagonist Catwoman.  Pfeiffer took the role and made it sexy, creepy, delicious, afflicted, confident and fantastical.  I love to hate her.  Do yourself a favor and hit up Netflix and check out Batman Returns, assuming you haven’t seen it already (and if that’s the case, #shameonyou).

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Tick tick tick.

August 22, 2010

What if you could implant a device that would tell you the exact moment you meet the love of your life?

It is a pretty far fetched idea but an intriguing one to consider nonetheless.  It is also the premise of a film I saw last night called, TiMER.  The film tells the story of a loveless orthodontist named Oona who is on the journey to find the man who will be “the one.”  What takes the story from ordinary to fascinating is that she, and most people in the film, are implanted with a device on their wrists that counts down to the time when they meet their soul mate.  Once they make eye contact, the device beeps and a new life full of love can begin.

Oona, however, has the wrist piece but its blank.  This means that her love has yet to be implanted with the device.  This causes Oona to go on a search hoping the next man will be get a TiMER and be “the one.”  Amidst her journey, she comes across an unlikely match, an apparent romantic misstep, who already has a TiMER set to go off in 4 months, with another person.  Problem ensues and issues of love and fate follow.

The movie is so interesting to me because it introduces a lot of neglected questions about love.  Is there really that “one” person out there?  If so, would we really want/need to know about it in advance? Can we not find the “one” amidst our past, revisiting and rediscovering love?  The idea of fate is thrown about so much but we can’t prove or disprove its existence.  I’d like to think that the efforts I make in life build upon each other to lead to something bigger, meaning that the larger “something” is in my control and at the disposal of my choices (be them good ones or utter mistakes).  It’s an interesting concept to ponder and the film did a great way of introducing it to me.

Check out the trailer to the film below.

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Christina x Etta

August 11, 2010

A new clip from the upcoming film “Burlesque” starring Christina Aguilera, Cher, and Kristin Bell has leaked.  The clip is of Aguilera singing the Etta James classic “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.”  Her rendition is, as expected, strong.  She definitely takes it to church on the track.  The film, however, looks like a mix of “Chicago” and “Glitter” — doomed.

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