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NBA star Kyrie Irving headed to the big screen in a new film

ROLLINGOUT.COM — Kyrie Irving is set to star in a horror flick inspired by an infamously haunted hotel.

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Kyrie Irving (Picture by Jackie Brown / SplashNews.com)

By Rollingout.com

Kyrie Irving is set to star in a horror flick inspired by an infamously haunted hotel.

According to Variety, the 26-year-old NBA player — who appeared in the 2018 sports comedy Uncle Drew — will star and be an executive producer in the untitled film, and the Boston Celtics star has revealed that he “connected” with the plot of the movie “immediately.”

Imagine Entertainment is basing the plot of the highly anticipated flick on the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City, which is notorious with traveling NBA teams and even had an article in The Players’ Tribune, and some basketball stars even refuse to stay there because of its haunted atmosphere.

The Skirvin hotel was famously built in 1911 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The film is set to be produced by Imagine Entertainment Chairman Brian Grazer and Now You See Me‘s Bobby Cohen who confessed that he knew the film would work.

The upcoming project will be developed as a satirical horror and will tap into the Skirvin Hotel’s spooky folklore.

This article originally appeared in Rollingout.com.

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Afro

Black Fatherhood Shines in New Animated FIim

THE AFRO — For the most part, Historically, stories about Black fathers in mainstream media often carry a misleading, yet pervasive tones of absenteeism, hyper masculinity, insensitivity, and irresponsibility, monolithic. But this week, the beauty of Black Fatherhood debuts. But this is narrative does not fairly represent the role of the Black fatherhood.

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The picture book “Hair Love” was released by Kokila Books/Penguin Random House releasing on May 14, 2019, and became a New York Times Bestseller. (Courtesy Photo)

By AFRO Staff

For the most part, Historically, stories about Black fathers in mainstream media often carry a misleading, yet pervasive tones of absenteeism, hyper masculinity, insensitivity, and irresponsibility, monolithic. But this week, the beauty of Black Fatherhood debuts. But this is narrative does not fairly represent the role of the Black fatherhood.

Hair Love is a heartfelt animated short film that centers around the relationship between an African-American father, his daughter Zuri, and the most daunting task a father could ever come across – doing his daughter’s hair. The short, a passion project from Matthew A. Cherry, will be making its theatrical debut in North America on Aug. 14.

Directed by Cherry (executive producer, “BlacKkKlansman”), Everett Downing Jr. (animator, “Up,” “WALL·E”), and Bruce W. Smith (creator, “The Proud Family,” animator, “The Princess and the Frog”), Hair Love is a collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation that was launched as a Kickstarter campaign in 2017 with a fundraising goal of $75,000. Strong support led to the campaign amassing nearly $300,000, making it the most highly-funded short film campaign in Kickstarter history.

“To see this project go from a Kickstarter campaign to the big screen is truly a dream come true,” said Cherry. “I couldn’t be more excited for ‘Hair Love’ to be playing with ‘The Angry Birds Movie 2’ in front of a wide audience and for the world to see our touching story about a Black father trying to figure out how to do his daughters hair for the very first time.”

“Hair Love” features the voice of Issa Rae (“Insecure”) as the young girl’s mother. The short is produced by Karen Rupert Toliver, Stacey Newton, Monica A. Young, Matthew A. Cherry, and Lion Forge Animation’s David Steward II and Carl Reed. Peter Ramsey (“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”) and Frank Abney (animator, “Toy Story 4”) serve as executive producers.

“This is such a special story that means so much to us,” added Ramsey, “Matthew has rallied an insanely talented group of people to get this short made, and to be able to share it with the world is a gift. We hope that audiences can feel this team’s dedication up on the big screen, we are incredibly proud of it.”

The short’s co-executive producers include Jordan Peele, Andrew Hawkins, Harrison Barnes, Yara and Keri Shahidi. The short’s associate producers include N’Dambi Gillespie, Gabrielle Union-Wade & Dwayne Wade Jr., Gabourey Sidibe, Stephanie Fredric and Claude Kelly.

Physical production of “Hair Love” has taken place at the Los Angeles-based animation studio, Six Point Harness (“Guava Island”).

The picture book “Hair Love” was released by Kokila Books/Penguin Random House releasing on May 14, 2019, and became a New York Times Bestseller.

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

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A reflection on ‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’

ROLLINGOUT — Amazing and awestruck are the feelings that came through as my eyes took in the latest indie flick, The Last Black Man in San Francisco.

Jimmy Fails works masterfully to expose the constant thoughts of the gentrifier and their continued foot on the neck of the Black community occupying the city of San Francisco. The circumstances that he faces, along with the city’s other Black and poor residents in general, is made poignant through his gaze and experiences. It is here that the character Jimmie and his best friend navigate the beautiful Alice in Wonderland maze of oppressors while consciousness keeps the dreamy truth about growing into manhood and brotherhood frightening, dangerous, and segregated.

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Jonathan Majors and Jimmie Fails in The Last Black Man in San Francisco. (Photo Credit: Peter Prato)

By Munson Steed

Amazing and awestruck are the feelings that came through as my eyes took in the latest indie flick, The Last Black Man in San Francisco.

Jimmy Fails works masterfully to expose the constant thoughts of the gentrifier and their continued foot on the neck of the Black community occupying the city of San Francisco. The circumstances that he faces, along with the city’s other Black and poor residents in general, is made poignant through his gaze and experiences. It is here that the character Jimmie and his best friend navigate the beautiful Alice in Wonderland maze of oppressors while consciousness keeps the dreamy truth about growing into manhood and brotherhood frightening, dangerous, and segregated.

It is clear from the start that the circumstances of Jimmie’s ancestral family home that doesn’t belong to the family anymore, yet his strong ties to hold onto the warm memories and his only true family tie might breed contempt for the transformation of cultural identity for the Black community and ownership in San Francisco.

The external attacks on brothers of both unemployment, environmental dumps, and drugs illuminate the lack of possibility of any sense of normalcy and development by African-American communities families and their legacy.

As James Baldwin said in his seminal work “I am not your Negro,” Jimmie highlights why the principal feeling of being alienated from society systemically clouds and brutalizes the future faith of young Black men.

For those who will never wear the skin that Jimmie does in the film, each White character seeks to really minimize the impact of a system of gentrification and application of responsibilities by liberals and politicians who its constituencies are not the individuals that bear their skin or their vote at the box.

In one scene, Jimmie showcases the rationale that all societal pressures, and those who have privilege in this country, explain their bloody sinful behavior for economic gain based on “If it wasn’t me, it would’ve been somebody else.” The starkest example being the while real estate agent who after learning about the perilous house’s status decides to list it himself to get the commission while Jimmie is trying his best to reclaim the property with no resources.

The film also showcases the feeling of Jimmie’s friend who is writing Jimmie’s memoir while he is living in the same world, but metaphorically being a Langston Hughes-like character who explains the pain that is omitted from the 5 o’clock news but sometimes highlighted in a very liberal voice by NPR without resolution.

Brotherhood could be felt on so many layers that this might be a movie to use as a healing tool to bring gangland murders to a minimum. We see the brotherhood that has often started within young black men beginning in their unfortunate circumstances like group homes and lonely nights on the corner gaining poor examples of masculine maturity as a death results from the corner training of gang-like confrontation principal rights of passage.

Black male toughness constitution leads to the death of Jimmie’s group home friend. Each man suffers from getting the shackle of their oppressed history and memories to remove the fog of lies and hope from their approach to a new day.

There is a poetic use of blindness in the film where our favorite actor and black community benefactor Danny Glover plays the blind grandfather of Jimmie’s best friend, Montgomery Allen.  He sees everything on another realm but can change why and what his grandson chooses to be. He does appear to know life has given Jimmie a depressed mind, which does not let black men forget their oppressed station.

Glover’s grandfather character is an elder who is praying for his grandson and his community and urges the two men to stick together against the dangers of the world both seen and unseen.

Emotional tears and anger showcase the need for psychological and mental therapy for many black men. Their fathers have failed to create a legacy of emotional intelligence. Instead of lies breed lies and pain rains on all emotional levels.

Heartbreak, dissatisfaction, and disappointment are served by all of San Francisco, which seems to benefit from all tragic losses of the black community and especially black men.

Jimmie Fails writes the life in the land of Flint, Michigan’s black cousin of San Francisco.

The honest depiction of new age colonizers in this movie might have gotten Jimmie’s project left on an editor’s desk. Demonstrating how a liberal and tolerant white society still benefits from black oppression as white actors always explain away part of the constant injustice San Francisco offers as a gift.

Lastly, Jimmie asks Black fathers why don’t we see the cycle of abuse they administer like free cheese. “You didn’t die from so it was not so bad” philosophy that begs for a pass is a lie that expired decades ago.

Brothers cry, scream and accept that their bond as black men must be protected with honesty; but the pain is going to be part of process and practice.

Jimmie Fails work appears to free black men from the lie that the colonizer has defined you and demand a Black redefinition of their future outside the boxed circumstances of their birth.

Jimmie Fails is not your negro either with the masterpiece The Last Black Man in San Francisco.

This article originally appeared in Rollingout.com.

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Trailer for Upcoming Harriet Tubman Movie Sails Over Ten Million Views in Five Days

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, “Harriet” tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history,” a write-up by Focus Features read.

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The world premiere for “Harriet” will take place at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2019. (Photo: YouTube)

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

A movie preview for the upcoming biopic featuring the life of legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman, entitled “Harriet,” was viewed by over ten million people in five days from July 21 to July 26 on Facebook. Another social media post of the same movie trailer on YouTube received over four million views. The movie will be released on November 1.

The film stars British actress Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman and Janelle Monae, Joe Alwyn and Leslie Odom.

“Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, “Harriet” tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history,” a write-up by Focus Features read.

The world premiere for “Harriet” will take place at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2019.

Originally Viola Davis was set to star in and produce a film on Tubman but the development of the current film by Focus began in May 2016. In February 2017, Cynthia Erivo was cast as Harriet Tubman and Seith Mann, who is African American, was selected as the director using a screenplay by Gregory Allen Howard.

Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross in March 1822 and died on March 10, 1913. She was an abolitionist, activist and a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War.  Tubman escaped slavery and traveled thirteen missions to rescue over 300 enslaved people, many family and friends. Tubman used a network of antislavery activists and safe houses to bring people to freedom. The vast network would become known as the Underground Railroad.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

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FILM REVIEW: Brian Banks

NNPA NEWSWIRE —Brian Banks’ story is a cautionary tale in an era when a false accusation can ruin a career. It shows that harm that can be done when well-intentioned advocates believe an accuser before hearing all the facts. Also, Banks’ predicament clearly indicates why parents should be in the room when their offspring are negotiating plea deals with public defenders. For a multitude of reasons, Banks’ experience should be shared.

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The real Brian Banks, the subject of this movie, lived through an ordeal that was tragic, inspiring and often profound, something is lost in this one-dimensional retelling of his life experiences. (Photo: YouTube)
The real Brian Banks, the subject of this movie, lived through an ordeal that was tragic, inspiring and often profound, something is lost in this one-dimensional retelling of his life experiences. (Photo: YouTube)

By Dwight Brown NNPA Newswire Film Critic

In this #MeToo age, a biofilm about a wrongfully convicted high school football player, who was accused, tried and imprisoned for rape, is timely.

Actor Aldis Hodge (left) and the real life Brian Banks (right) on the set of Tom Shadyac’s BRIAN BANKS, a Bleecker Street release.

Actor Aldis Hodge (left) and the real life Brian Banks (right) on the set of Tom Shadyac’s BRIAN BANKS, a Bleecker Street release.
Credit: Katherine Bomboy / Bleecker Street

The real Brian Banks, the subject of this movie, lived through an ordeal that was tragic, inspiring and often profound, something is lost in this one-dimensional retelling of his life experiences. Something turns his extraordinary story of resilience into a decent but ordinary made-for-TV-like movie.

In 2002, Brian Banks (Aldis Hodge, Straight Outta Compton, Hidden Figures) is a junior at Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, California and a linebacker football player. He has verbally committed to attending USC based on his football prowess. The future looks bright for him and his single mom Leomia (Sherri Shepherd). One day at school, Banks runs into coed Kinnesha Rice (Xosha Roquemore), and they decide to hook up in a secluded school building where kids go to make out and get down.

Credit: Katherine Bomboy / Bleecker Street

Aldis Hodge stars as Brian Banks in Tom Shadyac’s BRIAN BANKS, a Bleecker Street release.
Credit: Katherine Bomboy / Bleecker Street

While in their secret place, Brian has a change of heart, leaves Kinnesha behind and she is forced to explain to a security guard why she is in a notorious spot. Flustered, the student fabricates a story about being raped. Her lie leads to Banks’ arrest, a too-hasty plea deal, trial, imprisonment, a tough parole and a sex offender label that haunts him.

Banks can’t live, work or be near places that children gather—including schools, parks and malls. He’s lost any academic or professional football opportunities. Unless his conviction is overturned, his future is bleak and he’s hit a wall.

Greg Kinnear stars as Justin Brooks in Tom Shadyac’s BRIAN BANKS, a Bleecker Street release.

Greg Kinnear stars as Justin Brooks in Tom Shadyac’s BRIAN BANKS, a Bleecker Street release.
Credit: Katherine Bomboy / Bleecker Street

That’s a galvanizing setup. Sympathetic protagonist, wrongly accused, innocent and determined yet filled with self-doubt. He’s the David. A California judicial system that rarely—if ever—overturns cases against convicts is the Goliath. Audiences like to watch a “good fight” against injustice. Bring it on.

Screenwriter Doug Atchison (Akeelah and the Bee) fit all the characters and pieces of Banks jumbled life into an easy-to-decipher script. Maybe too easy. Son, mom, accuser, mentors. The California Innocence Project (CIP) is also in the mix. It’s a non-profit that helps wrongfully convicted prisoners and is headed by Justin Brooks (Greg Kinnear). Other supporting characters (new girlfriend, skeptical prosecutor, accuser’s stubborn mom) augment the cast. But the focus is on Banks—his sorrow, integrity, courageousness and perseverance.

Given a story that sells itself, and a quest that provides innate momentum, you’d think filmmaker Tom Shadyac (The Nutty Professor) would have an easy time directing a film that’s powered by its own natural thrust. Yet, his plodding direction slows things down. The footage (Ricardo Diaz, cinematographer) is bland, lacks style and eye-catching composition.

Shadyac fails to get the cast’s emotions to rise to a level of desperation that piques attention. Everything seems average. Smart, intuitive directors (e.g. Sidney Lumet “Q & A,”) find ways to lift urban dramas off the page and turn them into compelling films that are more than the sum of their parts. Not the case here.

Aldis Hodge and Sherri Shepherd co-star in the Brian Bankcs biolfilm.

Aldis Hodge and Sherri Shepherd co-star in the Brian Bankcs biolfilm.

Can’t blame the editing (Greg Hayden, Zoolander), art direction (Starlet Jacobs), production design (Teresa Mastropierro) or costumes (Amanda Ford) for the general malaise. The tech credits are just decent enough to make this film semi-engaging for 99 minutes. The ensemble cast is proficient, but none stand out, except the lead.

Big question: “Why is Aldis Hodge in a so-so movie like this?” His deft interpretation of the character, the raw emotion he displays and the solid screen persona he creates crown his performance. He saves the film. At this point in his career, Hodges should be starring in far bigger projects than this. He should be one of the Avengers, vying for parts Denzel Washington has aged out of and up for roles that lead to Oscars. He’s that good.

Brian Banks’ story is a cautionary tale in an era when a false accusation can ruin a career. It shows that harm that can be done when well-intentioned advocates believe an accuser before hearing all the facts. Also, Banks’ predicament clearly indicates why parents should be in the room when their offspring are negotiating plea deals with public defenders. For a multitude of reasons, Banks’ experience should be shared.

The Brian Banks film, within the confines of its made-for-TV-movie-of-the-week approach, is not as three-dimensional as Banks real-life story. It lacks the artistry of an indie film, the dramatic chops of a cable film (HBO) and the repeat-viewing power necessary for a streaming movie (Netflix).

If this well-meant film has a saving grace, besides its message of resilience, its Hodges’ powerful performance. He’s an Oscar-caliber actor in need of an Oscar-caliber film.

Visit NNPA Newswire Film Critic Dwight Brown at DwightBrownInk.com and BlackPressUSA.com.

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Birmingham Times

What Actor Joe Pesci Taught Birmingham-Native Kat Files About Movie Sets

BIRMINGHAM TIMES — Files was on set as a featured background actress for the film “The Irishman,” scheduled for theatrical release in fall 2019; it is directed by Martin Scorsese and features DeNiro, Pesci, and Pacino. Leonardo DiCaprio, who isn’t in the film, was on set one day to watch, Files said.

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Kat Files (Photo by: birminghamtimes.com)

 

By Ameera Steward

For Kat Files, a Birmingham native, to be on set with actors like Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci was quite an experience.

“I was shooting with them for eight days in a row,” said Files, 26, a renowned dancer, model, and actress, who was born and raised in Birmingham and attended the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA). “One of the days, we were on set for more than 14 hours, and Joe Pesci stopped by to speak with us for a minute about all you learn while being on set that long.”

Files was on set as a featured background actress for the film “The Irishman,” scheduled for theatrical release in fall 2019; it is directed by Martin Scorsese and features DeNiro, Pesci, and Pacino. Leonardo DiCaprio, who isn’t in the film, was on set one day to watch, Files said.

One thing she learned from Pesci: “When you’re on set for that many hours with celebrities, … saying less is more. [Also], keep your ears open to gather all the crucial information that’s happening on set around you.”

“People tend to get very talkative when they’ve been on set that many hours,” Files said. “You want to always remain professional.”

Though Files is known mainly for her distinction in dance—at ASFA, she received the Prix de Excellence de Dance Award, the school’s highest award given in the field—she also has acted in a short film that was released during the spring and appeared in commercials and television shows.

Files was a featured ballerina on the television show “Gotham” (FOX, November 2017) and a featured magician’s assistant on “Deception” (ABC, March 2017). She has done a television commercial and print campaign for Courtyard by Marriott, and most recently danced in a television promo commercial for the Super Bowl (January 2019) on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” She also modeled for a Walmart calendar campaign (January 2019) and the Ralph Lauren/L’Oréal “Beyond Romance” on camera and print campaign (August 2018).

“I still love to model, and I still love to act, but nothing gives me the feeling that dance does—that gut feeling you have when you’re enjoying everything you do, … putting your full heart and soul into something,” she said.

Combining dance with acting is even more rewarding, Files said.

Being on set is “cool but being able to dance [as] … a featured ballerina on the show ‘Gotham’ or something like that, I was like, ‘Wow! This is another way I can still dance and do what I love but also incorporate other areas of the arts that I love.’”

To read more stories about Local Birmingham Talent, click one of the links below. 

Kat Files, Dancer, Model, Actress, Returns Home From NY to Teach Others

Kim Scott: From Birmingham to Top of Billboard Charts

America’s Got Talent’s Brian King Joseph To Support United Abilities on Aug. 3

Shaheed and DJ Supreme: From the Local Stage to Global Ambition

This article originally appeared in the Birmingham Times.

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Film

At the Movies: Spider-Man: Far from Home; Yesterday; andThe Fall of the American Empire

NASHVILLE PRIDE — Families going to the cinema with members who don’t particularly care for superheroes and haven’t kept up with the amazing Marvel Cinematic Universe do have films that will tickle their fancy, though, and two are real gems: Yesterday and The Fall of the American Empire.

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Tom Holland is Peter Parker aka Spider-Man and Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury in Spider-Man Far from Home.

By Cass Teague

This first weekend of July, movie-goers have many choices. Chief among them, of course, is the Marvel Studios spectacular Spider-Man: Far from Home. Families going to the cinema with members who don’t particularly care for superheroes and haven’t kept up with the amazing Marvel Cinematic Universe do have films that will tickle their fancy, though, and two are real gems: Yesterday and The Fall of the American Empire.

First, though, Spider-Man: Far from Home is a rollicking adventure that will keep you thoroughly entertained at a high level of special effects (taking a dozen visual effects houses to render), with a few surprises along the way that will have you gasping, and leave you completely mind-blown at the end. Speaking of the end, you have to stay through the end of the credits, and I mean all the way through to the very end of the credits and they shut off the projector.

Samuel L. Jackson is awesome once again as Nick Fury, and along with Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill, the S.H.I.E.L.D. duo intervenes when Peter Parker, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, embarks on a class science trip to Europe. All the teenager wants to do is profess his love for MJ, but ya know, superhero stuff gets in the way. Tom Holland and Zendaya are heartwarmingly loveable as the two star-crossed potential lovers, and their story highlights the quandary that plagues Marvel superheroes – how to balance saving the world with trying to have a normal life.

Without massive spoilers, and there is plenty to spoil here, trust me, as you will see, just buckle up for the ride and enjoy this continuation of the MCU that honors all that we went through in the Avengers Infinity War and Endgame films. I suggest that you may want to try 3D, IMAX 3D, or dare I say, the incredible 4DX that puts you in the action, for this one.

So, if superheroes aren’t your thing, and you tag along to the multiplex with a group or family, try a musical fantasy or a French-language crime thriller.

Yesterday is hilarious, laugh out loud British romantic comedy film directed by Danny Boyle and written by Richard Curtis. The film stars Himesh Patel as a musician who, after an accident, finds himself as the only person who remembers the Beatles, and becomes famous taking credit for writing and performing their songs. Lily James, Ed Sheeran, and Kate McKinnon also star.

The Fall of the American Empire is a Quebec crime thriller film starring Alexandre Landry, Maxim Roy, Yan England and Rémy Girard. It is about a man (Landry) who, after an armed robbery in Montreal, discovers two bags with millions of dollars cash and is on a journey after he takes them. Based on a real 2010 Old Montreal shooting, this film is at times shocking and suspenseful, as it takes you places you may not want to go, but brings you back in one piece. Be prepared to read the English subtitles throughout.

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride

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