Showing posts with label Robert De Niro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robert De Niro. Show all posts

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Review: "AMSTERDAM" is a Movie That Follows the Right God Home

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 4 of 2023 (No. 1893) by Leroy Douresseaux

Amsterdam (2022)
Running time:  134 minutes (2 hours, 14 minutes)
MPA – R for brief violence and bloody images
WRITER/DIRECTOR:  David O. Russell
PRODUCERS:  David O. Russell, Christian Bale, Matthew Budman, Anthony Katagas, and Arnon Milchan
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Emmanuel Lubezki (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Jay Cassidy
COMPOSER:  Daniel Pemberton


Starring:  Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Alessandro Nivola, Andrea Riseborough, Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Rock, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Shannon, Mike Myers, Taylor Swift, Timothy Olyphant, Zoe Saldana, Rami Malek, Ed Begley, Jr., Beth Grant, and Robert De Niro

Amsterdam is a 2022 comedy, period drama, and historical film from writer-director David O. Russell.  The film is based on the 1933 United States political conspiracy “the Business Plot,” which involved a secret plan to overthrow the government of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and to install a dictator in its place.  Amsterdam follows three friends who seek to uncover the truth behind the mysterious death and apparent murder of a retired U.S. general.

Amsterdam introduces Burt Berendsen M.D. (Christian Bale), a physician and surgeon.  In 1918, his estranged wife, Beatrice Vandenheuvel (Andrea Riseborough) and her parents, who don't really care for Burt because he is “half-Jew,” bully him into enlisting to fight in World War I.  While stationed in France, Burt befriends an African-American soldier, Harold Woodman (John David Washington).

Later, after being severely injured in battle, Burt and Harold are nursed back to health by Valerie Bandenberg (Margot Robbie), an eccentric American nurse and artist who makes art out of shrapnel removed from the soldiers.  Burt and Harold befriend Valerie and follow her to Amsterdam, the capitol of the Netherlands.  There, they live together and Harold and Valerie engage in a budding romance.  First, Burt returns to New York City to be with his wife, and then, Harold returns to begin his career as an attorney.

In 1933, Burt owns his own medical practice that caters to veterans of WWI, and he still remains friends with Harold.  Things begin to change for them when they discover that General Bill Meekins (Ed Begley, Jr.), who was important to Burt and Harold during the war, has died.  His daughter, Elizabeth Meekins (Taylor Swift), believes that her father was murdered.  Soon, Elizabeth herself is murdered, and Burt and Harold are blamed.  Seeking to clear themselves, they begin to investigate the mystery surrounding General Meekins before his death, which leads to their reunion with Valerie.  She had also returned to America and is living in seclusion with her wealthy brother, Tom Voze (Rami Malek) and his wife, Libby (Anya Taylor-Joy).

The three friends find themselves in a conspiracy involving another retired military officer, Marine Corps General Gil Dillenbeck (Robert De Niro).  And everything is heading for a showdown at an event that is very important to Burt, the 14th Annual New York Veterans Reunion Gala.

Yeah, dear readers, the synopsis of the film's plot is a bit longer than I would like it to be.  Although Amsterdam's narrative only runs a little under two hours and ten minutes, the film has enough subplots, characters, and settings to fill a television miniseries.  Actually, a miniseries version of Amsterdam with the same cast would be orgasmic – well, at least for me it would.

Anyway, most of you, dear readers, are familiar (to one extent or another) with the event known as the “January 6 United States Capitol attack.”  On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, a (mostly) white mob attacked the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The members of mob were comprised of supporters of then-President Donald Trump, and they were seeking to keep Trump in power by preventing a joint session of the U.S. Congress from counting the electoral college votes to formalize the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.

That event led journalists, historians, and writers to recall other insurrections and attempts to overthrow a democratically elected U.S. government.  The Business Plot is one of them.  It has also been referred to as “the Wall Street Putsch” because the people behind it were allegedly wealthy American businessmen.  They hoped to overthrow the government of President Franklin D. Roosevelt by creating a fascist organization comprised of World War I veterans that would be led by Marine Corp General Smedley Butler, a hero of WWI and a veteran of several military conflicts.  After this military led coup and overthrow of the government, the plotters would install Butler as a dictator.

Butler, upon whom Amsterdam's Gen. Dillenbeck is based, himself is the one who revealed the Business Plot.  At the time, some of the press considered the Business Plot to be hoax, although a congressional committee investigating the plot believed that it was discussed and at least partially planned.

Amsterdam is a film that is kind of like a fairy tale version the Business Plot with Burt (ostensibly the story's lead character), Harold, and Valerie as the gallant trio fighting the mysterious bad guys.  In this manner, the film is filled with conniving wizards (rich businessmen), evil knights (the killers of Gen. Meekins), and menagerie of oddball characters and creature-types, which is a good way to describe even Amsterdam's heroic trio.  As I said earlier, I think that the manner in which writer-director David O. Russell tells this story, it needs to be done in a longer form.

Still, one thing at which Russell really excels is in creating ensemble films featuring a cast that delivers stellar performances which in turn creates the most interesting cinematic characters.  He has done that with a large ensemble, as in the case of his highly-acclaimed 2013 film, American Hustle, and with an intimate small ensemble, such as in his Oscar-winning 2012 film, Silver Linings Playbook.

Christian Bale delivers another amazing performance as Burt Berendsen.  Margot Robbie is eccentric and delightful as Valerie, and John David Washington is dashing, bold, and stalwart as Harold.  Robbie and Washington have excellent chemistry and thus, are convincing as a couple.  Anya Taylor-Joy, beautiful and radiant as always, effortlessly slays in her turn as the vain and insecure attention-seeker, Libby Voze.  Of course, Robert De Niro, as Gen. Dillenbeck, turns up the heat in the film's most pivotal moments.

Rami Malek, Chris Rock, and Zoe Saldana also shine in key supporting roles, and Taylor Swift's quick spin as Bill Meekins' daughter, Elizabeth, gives the film an early jolt.  So the smaller roles help to make Amsterdam that much better as a top notch ensemble film.

In the film, the city of Amsterdam seems to represent a place where people can be their authentic selves while accepting that others must also be allowed to be their authentic selves, even if that might lead to clashes of personality and belief.  Amsterdam is not perfect, but it is lovable because of its idiosyncratic way, and that makes me look forward to the next large ensemble film from the inimitable David O. Russell.

8 of 10
★★★★ out of 4 stars

Saturday, January 21, 2023

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for syndication rights and fees.



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Friday, December 30, 2022

Review: Pam Grier is Radiant in "JACKIE BROWN," Tarantino's Best (Maybe) Film

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 77 of 2022 (No. 1889) by Leroy Douresseaux

Jackie Brown (1997)
Running time:  154 minutes (2 hours, 34 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong language, some violence, drug use and sexuality
DIRECTOR:  Quentin Tarantino
WRITER:  Quentin Tarantino (based upon the novel by Elmore Leonard)
PRODUCER:  Lawrence Bender
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Guillermo Navarro
EDITOR:  Sally Menke
Academy Award nominee


Starring:  Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro, Michael Bowen, Chris Tucker, LisaGay Hamilton, Tom Lister, Jr., Hattie Winston, Sid Haig, Aimee Graham, Tangie Ambrose, and T'Keyah Crystal Keymah

Jackie Brown is a 1997 drama and crime film from writer-director Quentin Tarantino.  It is based on Elmore Leonard's 1992 novel, Rum Punch.  Jackie Brown the movie focuses on a flight attendant who schemes with an aging bail bondsman in a bid to defeat both the ATF and her boss who smuggles guns into Mexico.

Jackie Brown introduces 44-year-old, Jackie Brown (Pam Grier), a flight attendant for the low-budget Mexican airline, Cabo Air.  She smuggles money from Mexico into the United States for her (kind of) boss, Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), a gun runner in Los Angeles.  One day, Ordell's courier, Beaumont Livingston (Chris Tucker), is arrested, and he snitches about Ordell's business.

Acting on that information, LAPD Detective Mark Dargus (Michael Bowen) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agent, Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton), intercept Jackie while she is returning with some of Ordell's cash, with a small bag of cocaine thrown in.  Dargus and Nicolette use the cocaine to threaten Jackie with serious criminal charges and hard prison time.

Ordell hires bail bondsman, Max Cherry (Robert Forster), of Cherry Bail Bonds, to bail Jackie out of jail.  Feeling trapped between Ordell and the law, Jackie conspires with Max to pretend to give both sides what they want – Ordell the money and the ATF Ordell.  If this heist works, Jackie and Max will secure her future with half a million dollars of Ordell's money.

Jackie Brown is obviously writer-director Quentin Tarantino's ode to 1970s blaxploitation films.  The film is also a star vehicle that Tarantino created for the actress playing the title role in Jackie Brown, the great Pam Grier.  She starred in some of the most fondly remembered and popular blaxploitation films, most notably Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974).  The roles in those two films obviously inspired the role of “Jackie Brown,” although “Flower Child Coffin” a.k.a “Coffy” (of Coffy) and Foxy Brown are action heroes.  Instead, Tarantino makes Jackie Brown a world-weary woman, not an action hero, but a working woman willing to take the action that will help her make her way in the world.

Grier plays Jackie Brown with subtlety and grace, making Jackie comfortable in her skin.  Her sexiness is not forced, but radiates from her, buoyed by her confidence.  Grier makes it seem quite genuine that Brown would one day finally have enough with getting the crappy end of the stick in life.  Jackie takes a chance, and with nothing to lose, she works her magic.  Grier also works her magic, and the audience can believe that she is going to pull off this implausible heist of Ordell's money and also trick the ATF and LAPD by giving them only some of what they want.  Here, Grier gives the best performance of her career, and it is a shame that Hollywood has under-utilized her amazing talent and screen presence.

I have not seen enough of his performances to say that Max Cherry is actor Robert Forster's best performance of his career.  Playing Max revitalized Forster's career, which was mostly stalled at the time.  With charming stoicism, Forster perfectly plays the calm, wise, and a little weary, Max Cherry, one of the most perfect characters that Tarantino ever wrote.  Forster also convinces us that he has so totally fallen for Jackie Brown that he is willing to do everything she wants even if it is everything that he should not do.

I also think that Ordell Robbie is Samuel Jackson's best performance.  Ordell is an example of what would become the stereotypical Samuel L. Jackson character – the menacing, bad-ass Black man who loves to shoot people and curse up a storm.  However, Jackson makes Ordell a man full of angles and twists.  He is coarse with a trashy sophistication; he is menacing, but sentimental in odd ways.  He is not nearly as smart as he thinks he is, so he is ultimately a cheap hood with enough low-rent ambitions to make himself a doomed idiot.

Tarantino uses Grier, Forster, and Jackson's performances and those of several others (Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda, and Michael Keaton) to give his usual style, wit, humor, and rapid-fire bravado traction and depth.  Jackie Brown does not have the snappy banter nor the nonlinear antics of Tarantino's previous film, Pulp Fiction.  Jackie Brown's narrative is a straight story, Tarantino's most substantive film to date.  It may be an ode to blaxploitation and also a smooth heist film, but most of all, Jackie Brown is a character drama.  With a superb soundtrack behind it (focusing on “The Delfonics” 1969 classic song, “Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)”), Tarantino uses a slow pace to weave a delightful Los Angeles crime story about the criminal things people do when they are desperate … or in love.

I think that Quentin Tarantino and Pam Grier are a match made in cinematic heaven.  2022 is the twenty-fifth anniversary of Jackie Brown's original theatrical release (December 8, 1997).  Jackie Brown has aged well, and for me, it gets better every time I watch it.

10 of 10

Friday, December 30, 2022

1998 Academy Awards, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” (Robert Forster)

1998 Golden Globes, USA:  2 nominations: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical” (Pam Grier) and “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical” (Samuel L. Jackson)

1998 Image Awards (NAACP):  1 nominations:  “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture” (Pam Grier)

The text is copyright © 2022 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint or syndication rights and fees.



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Saturday, August 20, 2022

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from August 14th to 20th, 2022 - Update #12

by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

You can support Leroy via Paypal or on Patreon:


TELEVISION - From DeadlineWarner Bros. Discovery has shuttered HBO Max's non-scripted division.  Discovery already has a non-scripted division and HBO Max is supposed to merge with Discovery+, so...

BUSINESS - From Deadline:  Swedish video game company Embracer Group has acquired "Middle-earth Enterprises," a division of The Saul Zaentz Company, which owns the intellectual property catalogue and worldwide rights to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Financial terms of the sale were not revealed.

TELEVISION - From Deadline:  Viewership of streaming programming surpassed that of cable TV for the first time in July, Nielsen reported.

NETFLIX - From Deadline:  Netflix has released a teaser trailer for "Wednesday," which is director Tim Burton's re-imagining of "The Addams Family."

ACADEMY AWARDS - From AlJazeeraThe Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has apologized to Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native-American activist who endured abuse when she took a stand at the 1973 Academy Awards against anti-Indigenous racism in the U.S. film industry.  The Academy will host Littlefeather, now 75, for an evening of conversation and healing on September 17th, 2022.

MOVIES - From Deadline:  Robert De Niro will star in Warner Bros' mob drama, "Wise Guys," which will be directed by Oscar-winner, Barry Levinson.

MOVIES - From Deadline:  The very busy Kenya Barris ("Black-ish") will write and direct a re-imagining of "The Wizard of Oz" for Warner Bros.

MOVIES - From Variety:   Actress Bryce Dallas Howard says she was paid so much less than her costar, Chris Pratt, on the "Jurassic World" sequels, but that Pratt did fight for pay equity.

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficePro:  The winner of the 8/12 to 8/14/2022 weekend box office is "Bullet Train" with an estimated take of 13.4 million dollars.

CRIME - From YahooPolitics:  The FBI's search warrant for Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property has been released and can be read at the "Yahoo" link.


From Deadline:  German film director, Wolfgang Petersen, has died at the age of 81, Friday, August 12, 2022.  He came to prominence in America with his West German war film, "Das Boot" (1981).  He earned two of the film's six Academy Award nominations, "Best Director" and "Best Adapted Screenplay."  He would go on to direct some of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters and action films, including "In the Line of Fire" (1993), "Outbreak" (1995), "Air Force One" (1997), and "The Perfect Storm" (2000), to name a few.

From THR:  Prolific film and television character actress, Denise Dowse, had died at the age of 64, Saturday, August 13, 2022.  She appeared in numerous film and said that her roles in "Ray" (2004) and "Coach Carter" (2005) were her favorites.  Her extensive TV career including recurring roles in "Beverly Hills, 90210," "The Guardian" and HBO's "Insecure."

From GuardianUK:  The television, film, and stage actress, Anne Heche, has died at the age of 53, Thursday, August 11, 2022 after being declared "brain dead."  She first came to fame as the twins "Vicky Hudson" and "Marley Love" on the daytime soap opera, "Another World" from 1987-91, which earned her a Daytime Emmy Award.  She came to prominence in the mid to late 1990s in a number of prestigious films, including "Donnie Brasco" (1997), "Psycho" (1998), and "Six Day, Seven Nights" (1998).  In recent years, she had recurring roles on such television series as NBC's "Chicago P.D." and CBS' former series, "All Rise."

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from November 7th to 13th, 2021 - Update #22

by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

You can support Leroy via Paypal or on Patreon:


DISNEY - From Deadline:  Disney+ has provided a first look at Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy in "Hocus Pocus 2," the sequel to their 1993 Halloween cult classic.  "Hocus Pocus 2" is due Fall 2022.

BREAKING/CELEBRITY - From Variety:   The conservatorship over Grammy Award-winning recording artist, Britney Spears, has been terminated after 13 years, a California court has determined.

TELEVISION - From THR:  "And Just Like That," the sequel to the beloved series, "Sex in the City," has a premiere date (Dec. 9th on HBO Max) and a trailer.

MOVIES - From Deadline:  MGM is developing a "Road House" reboot with actor Jake Gyllenhaal and director Doug Liman circling the project.

CELEBRITY - From THR:  In a big feature interview, sexy actor Henry Cavill talks about "The Witcher," "Mission: Impossible," Superman, and James Bond...

COVID-19 - From THR:  Hollywood projects get stricter about COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

TECH - From Variety:  Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson is selling the VFX division of his company, Weta Digital, to Unity Software, a 3D game development platform.  Eventually, the deal will make Weta's VFX tools and tech will be available to creators all over the world.

MOVIES - From VarietyAriana Grande and Cynthia Erivo will portray Glinda and Elphaba, respectively, in Universal’s big-screen adaptation of the Tony-winning musical, "Wicked." The film will be directed by Jon M. Chu.

MOVIES - From THR:   Leonardo DiCaprio is in final talks to play infamous cult leader, Jim Jones, in a film for MGM that he will also produce.

OSCARS - From THR:  30 hopeful films enter the race for "Best Picture" at the 2022 / 94th Academy Awards.

From THR:  The Academy Awards promises 10 nominees in the "Best Picture" category at the 94th Oscars.

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficePro:  The winner of the 11/5 to 11/7/2021 weekend box office is Disney/Marvel Studios' "Eternals" with an estimated take of 71 million dollars.

From Negromancer:   My review of "Eternals."

MOVIES - From Insider:  Director Jason Reitman talks about working on "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," a franchise he's avoided his whole life, and the connection to his father who directed the original films.

MOVIES - From THRRegina Hall is teaming with Robert De Niro to make a sequel to De Niro's 1988 film, "Midnight Run."  In the original, De Niro played a bounty hunter tracking  a mob accountant played by the late, great Charles Grodin.

MOVIES - From DeadlineVin Diesel has asked Dwayne Johnson to return to the "Fast & Furious" franchise for the series' final two films.  Diesel and Johnson have been at odds since the making of "The Fate of the Furious."

TELEVISION - From THRTyler Perry, who does all the writing for his television series, said that his plan is to bring in other writers and directors for his TV shows sometime in the next three to four years.

TELEVISION - From ShadowandAct:  Filmmaker Deon Taylor and rapper "Master P" are developing an scripted television series based on Master P's life.

MOVIES - From THR:  Acclaimed director and Oscar-winning screenwriter, Jane Campion, talks about her new film, "The Power of the Dog" (with Benedict Cumberbatch) and why she won't do a "Marvel movie."


From THR:  American producer, manager, and boxing promoter, Jeff Wald, has died at the age of 77, Friday, November 12, 2021.  Wald had many celebrity clients, including his ex-wife, the late singer-songwriter, Helen Reddy.  Wald was married to Reddy and managed her at the height of her career in the 1970s.  He also managed legendary comedian George Carlin and box office superstar, actor Sylvester Stallone.

From Deadline:  The former child performer and veteran actor, Dean Stockwell, has died at the age of 85, Sunday, November 7, 2021.  Stockwell began his film career as a child actor in 1945, appearing a several films, including "Anchors Aweigh" with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly.  Stockwell may be best known for the role of "Admiral Al Calavicci" in the former NBC sci-fi drama, "Quantum Leap" (1989-93), for which he received four Primetime Emmy nominations in the category of "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series."  Stockwell also earned a "Best Supporting Actor" nomination for his role in Jonathan Demme's 1988 film, the crime comedy, "Married to the Mob."



From Deadline:  This link will take you to Deadline's Halyna Hutchins page, which articles related to everything about her shooting death on the set of the Western film, "Rust."

From DeadlineSerge Svetnoy, the gaffer on "Rust," has filed a lawsuit against several parties related to the film, including the production, the financiers, star Alec Baldwin, armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, and first Assistant Director David Halls.

From THR:   In the wake of the tragic accidental shooting on the set of his film, "Rust," Alec Baldwin on Monday took to social media to urge Hollywood to employ a police officer on every film and TV set that uses guns.

From THR:   The budget for "Rust" - Alec Baldwin was set to earn $150,000 as lead actor and $100,000 as producer, while $7,913 was earmarked for armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and $17,500 was set aside for the rental of weapons and $5,000 for rounds.

From Deadline:  Attorneys for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer on the set of the film, "Rust," said that they’re looking into whether a live bullet was placed in a box of dummy rounds with the intent of  “sabotaging the set.”

From THR:   Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer on the film, "Rust," released a statement through her lawyers.  She says she had “no idea where the live rounds came from” that were recovered by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's during the investigation of the accidental on-set shooting death of Halyna Hutchins.

From Jacobin:  An opinion piece says that cinematographer Halyna Hutchins' death on the set of the film, "Rust," was not a freak accident, but was about Alec Baldwin and his fellow producers' cost-cutting decisions.  Baldwin accidentally fired the gun that killed Hutchins.

From Deadline:   Two of executive producers on "Rust," Allen Cheney and Emily Salveson, disavow responsibility for the film's troubled production.

From THR:   Iconic "Ghostbusters" actor Ernie Hudson is reeling from the news of the death of Halyna Hutchins, like the rest of Hollywood. Hudson also appeared in the film, "The Crow," the film in which its star, Brandon Lee, was killed because of an on-set accidental shooting.  He also agrees with the call to ban real guns from movie sets.

From THR:  The Sheriff of Sante Fe County says that his office has recovered three guns and 500 rounds of ammunition from the set of the movie "Rust" where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed.

From Deadline:  Regarding criminal charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film "Rust," District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altweis, "all options are on the table - no one has been ruled out."

From THR:  Does Hollywood Need Guns? Will new regulations lead to an overreactions to a tragedy.

From Deadline:   "Rust" producers have opened an internal investigation into the fatal shooting on the set of the Western film.  They have hired outside lawyers to conduct interviews with the film's production crew.

From Deadline:  "Rust's" AD (assistant director), Dave Halls, has come under scrutiny in the wake of the on-set shooting death of the film's cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins.

From Deadline:  The affidavit of Sante Fe Sheriff's Department Detective Joel Cano has been made public. It can be read at "Deadline."  The affidavit was for a search warrant from the property were the Western, "Rust," was being filmed.

From THR:  The production company behind "Rust" has shut the film down until the police investigation into the fatal, on-set shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins is through.  The Sante Fe County Sheriff's Office has also revealed a timeline of the shooting.

From Deadline:  The Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department confirmed Thursday night that Alec Baldwin “discharged” a prop gun on the New Mexico set of the movie, "Rust."  As a result, one crew member, director of photography Halyna Hutchins, was killed and director Joel Souza was injured and remains in a local hospital - his condition unknown.

From THR:  "Rust" director, Joel Souza, who was wounded in the accidental on-set shooting, says that he is "gutted" by the death of his cinematographer on the film, Halyna Hutchins.

From Deadline:  The fatal shooting on the set of "Rust" may have been "recorded" according to detective for Santa Fe Sheriff's Department.

From Deadline:  The production company behind the film, "Rust," will launch an internal safety review after the fatal accident that killed Halyna Hutchins; possible prior gun incidents; and a camera crew walkout.

From CNN:   Crew member yelled "cold gun" as he handed Alec Baldwin prop weapon, court document shows.

From Variety:  Actor Alec Baldwin releases statement on the death of Halyna Hutchins: "There are no words to convey my shock and sadness."

From Variety:  The prop gun that killed “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza on during an on-set accident on Thursday contained a “live single round,” according to an email sent by IATSE Local 44 to its membership.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from May 9th to 15th, 2021 - Update #24

by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

You can support Leroy via Paypal or on Patreon:


TELEVISION - From Deadline:   CBS dramas, "SEAL Team" and "Clarice" will be moving to the Paramount+ streaming service for the 2021-22 TV season.

TELEVISION - From Deadline:   ABC has renewed "Black-ish" for an eighth and final season.  The series is currently wrapping up its seventh season.

DISNEY - From Deadline:   Boyd Holbrook and Shaunette Renée Wilson ("The Resident") are set to co-star opposite Harrison Ford in the next installment in the Indiana Jones series at Disney and Lucasfilm.

ANIMATION - From BleedingCool:   There are new images from "Monsters at Work," the Disney+ sequel TV series to Pixar's "Monsters, Inc."

STREAMING - From Deadline:  Actress Kathryn Hahn ("WandaVision") has joined the cast of director Rian Johnson's "Knives Out 2"

TELEVISION - From Deadline:  The CW is expanding to primetime Saturday night with new programming, starring this Fall with the 2021-22 television season.

MOVIES - From Deadline:  Actor Robert De Niro has apparently suffered a leg injury while in Oklahoma to film "Killers of the Flower Moon."  The injury is apparently not related to the film's production, but the extent of the injury is not known.

MOVIES - From WeGotThisCovered:   In 1996, Michael Jordan starred in the live-action/animation hybrid, "Space Jam."  Now, comes word that Jordan will appear in the LeBron James-led sequel, "Space Jam: A New Legacy," which is due in August.

STREAMING - From Variety:  The "Friends" reunion special, which will reunite the leads of NBC's late sitcom, "Friends," will debut on HBO Max May 27th.  The special also has a teaser trailer.

MOVIES - From EW:  "Entertainment Weekly" has a first-look at Henry Golding in the upcoming "Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins."  The film is due in theaters July 23rd, 2021.

ANIMATION - From WeGotThisCovered:   The first photos from Netflix's upcoming animated series, "Masters of the Universe: Revelation," have emerged.  Although it is a reboot, "Revelation" will apparently follow the continuity of the 1983-85 "Masters of the Universe" animated series.

MUSIC - From RollingStone:   The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has officially announced this year’s inductees: Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Jay-Z, Carole King, Todd Rundgren, and Tina Turner will join the class of 2021 in the Performers category.

CELEBRITY - From Variety:  HBCU Howard University is reestablishing its College of Fine Arts, and its new dean will be beloved actress Phylicia Rashad, most famously of NBC's former series, "The Cosby Show" (1984-92).  Rashad is an alumna of the Howard (1970).

TELEVISION - From Deadline:   "2020-21 TV Cancellations & Renewals For Broadcast, Cable & Streaming":  Here is Deadline’s list of renewals and cancellations for TV series on broadcast, cable and streaming services from August 2020 to present (excluding syndicated shows), with new series in bold.

STREAMING - From Deadline:  Oscar-nominated actor Edward Norton has been cast in the "Knives Out" sequel, which is due from writer-director Rian Johnson and Netflix.

TELEVISION - From Variety:   Fox has cancelled its crime drama series, "Prodigal Son," starring Tom Payne and Michael Sheen, after two seasons.  The May 18th season finale will now also be the series finale.

CELEBRITY - From PopSugar:  Are Bennifer (Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck) a thing again?

STREAMING - From Deadline:   Leonardo DiCaprio has revealed a first-look at his next film, "Killers of the Flower Moon," from Apple Original Films and directed by Martin Scorsese.  The film, which also stars Robert De Niro, has begun production.

BOX OFFICE - From Variety:  The winner of the 5/7 to 5/9/2021 weekend box office is Guy Ritchie's "Wrath of Man" (starring Jason Statham) with an estimated gross of 8.1 million dollars.

OSCARS - From YahooEntertainment:  When she did not win in the "Best Song" Oscar category at the recent 93rd Academy Awards, songwriter Diane Warren became the woman with the most nominations without a win in Oscar history.  Warren is 0-for-12, but she is taking that in stride.  And she might get a another nomination next year.

GOLDEN GLOBES - From Variety: "Black Widow" star and Oscar-nominated and Tony Award-winning actress Scarlett Johansson speaks out against the HFPA, the organization with hands out the Golden Globes awards.

From Deadline:  Netflix becomes the latest media organization to shun the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) over its attempts to ... change.


From Deadline:  The actor, director, and producer, Norman Lloyd, has died at the age of 106, Tuesday, May 11, 2021.  Lloyd worked in every facet of the entertainment industry, including theater, radio, television, and film.  He worked with such luminaries as Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, and Alfred Hitchcock.  He may be best known for his role on the former NBC television series, "St. Elsewhere (1982-88), as "Dr. Daniel Auschlander."  Lloyd was also a two-time Primetime Emmy Award nominee.

From YahooSports:  Former college and professional football player, Cole Brennan, has died at the age of 37, Tuesday, May 11, 2021.  Brennan was the record-setting quarterback at the University of Hawaii from 2005 to 2007.  He had a brief NFL career with the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders from 2008-2010.

From YahooLife:  The former White House dog, Bo, has died at the age of 12, Saturday, May 8, 2021.  A Portuguese water dog, Bo was the family dog of President Barack Obama and his family and was the White House dog from 2009-2017.  Bo joined the family and entered the White House in April 2009.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from December 13th to 19th, 2020 - Update #25

by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

Support Leroy on Patreon:


BLM - From WashPost:   The Rev. William H. Lamar IV is the pastor of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. that was attacked on Sat., Dec. 12th, 2020 by members of the racist group, the "Proud Boys."  The "Boys" were in Washington for a pro-Trump rally/riot.  Rev. Lamar wrote an opinion piece for the "Washington Post" entitled "My church will replace our Black Lives Matter sign. Will America replace its racist myth?" One of the quotes is "...that White men can employ violence to take what they want and do what they want and call that criminality justice, freedom and liberty."

COVID-19 - From CNN:  US sees record Covid-19 cases as CDC advisory group votes to recommend Moderna vaccine

CELEBRITY - From THR:   Inside Johnny Depp's self-made implosion.

CULTURE - From YahooEntertainment:   The last "Blockbuster" video rental store keeps chugging along and is the subject of a new documentary, "The Last Blockbuster."

AWARDS - From THR:  The New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) names "First Cow" its best film of 2020.

STREAMING - From YahooEW:   New set photos from "Coming 2 America," Netflix's sequel to the classic Eddie Murphy film, "Coming to America," include an image of Wesley Snipes.

MOVIES - From DirtyMovies:   There will be another entry in the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" film franchise in 2021.  "Dirty Movies" analyzes what went wrong with the last two entries.

TELEVISION - From Deadline:  NBC is working on a reboot of its classic legal comedy, "Night Court" (1984-1992), with Warner Bros. Television.  John Larroquette, who won several Emmy Awards for the show, will return as "Dan Fielding," and Melissa Rauch ("The Big Bang Theory") will play the role of Judge Abby Stone, the daughter of the late Judge Harry Stone (played by the late Harry Anderson).

TELEVISION - From Deadline:  ABC is in early development on "Pine Valley," a prime time follow-up to its daytime soap opera, "All My Children," which ended its run on the network in 2011.

TELEVISION-BLM - From Variety: "Heroes" Was Supposed to Be Leonard Roberts’ Big Break. Instead, It Nearly Broke Him. An African-American actor speaks about his poor treatment on the set of the former NBC series.

TOM CRUISE - From Deadline:   Tom Cruise Goes Off On Crew After Covid Breach On ‘Mission: Impossible 7’ London Set – Hear The Audio.

From YahooMovies:  Apparently, five crew members have quit "Mission: Impossible 7" over Tom Cruise's tirade against them for allegedly breaking COVID-19 protocol.

SPORTS-BLM - From MLB:   Major League Baseball has long celebrated the legacy of the Negro Leagues. But for the first time, MLB is officially recognizing that the quality of the segregation-era circuits was comparable to its own product from that time period.  Addressing what MLB described as a “long overdue recognition,” Commissioner Rob Manfred on Wednesday bestowed Major League status upon seven professional Negro Leagues that operated between 1920 and 1948. The decision means that the approximately 3,400 players of the Negro Leagues during this time period are officially considered Major Leaguers, with their stats and records becoming a part of Major League history.

COVID-19 - From GuardianUK: US Covid Deaths Pass 300,000 as First Americans Receive Coronavirus Vaccine

MOVIES - From YahooEntertainment:  As we acknowledge the 25th anniversary of Michael Mann's film, "Heat," which starred Oscar-winners, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, we revisit an interview in which Pacino talks about his friendly rivalry with De Niro.

STREAMING - From Deadline:   Lily James and Sebastian Stan (Marvel Studios "Winter Soldier") will play model/actress Pam Anderson and rock musician Tommy Lee in Hulu's biopic about the infamous celebrity couple.

MOVIES - From Deadline:   Chris Pine is in talks to star in "Dungeons & Dragons" for eOne and Paramount Pictures.  Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley are set to direct from a script they wrote.

SPORTS - From YahooSports:   Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians are dropping "Indians" from their name.  Here are the possibilities for a new name, including a Negro League name.

BLM - From Deadline:  Tyler Perry has donated $100,000 to the legal defense fund for Kenneth Walker, the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, the medical worker murdered in her apartment by members of the Louisville Metro Police Department.

BOX OFFICE - From Deadline:   The winner of the 12/11 to 12/13/20 weekend box office is "The Croods: A New Age" with an estimated take of 3 million dollars.

COVID-19 - From YahooNewsAP:  Trucks with first batches of COVID-19 vaccine in US get ready to roll

CHRISTMAS - From YahooNews:  Rare planetary conjunction means a rare "Christmas Star" will light up the night for the first time since the year 1226.


From THR:   American dancer, actress, and choreographer, Ann Reinking, has died at the age of 71, Saturday, December 12, 2020.  She is best known for her association with the Broadway musical, "Chicago," both as an actress (1977 and 1996) and as a choreographer (1996).  In 1997, she won a "Tony Award for Best Choreography" for the 1996 revival of "Chicago."  Reinking was nominated for a Tony three other times.

From Variety:  The spy-turned-spy-novelist, John le Carre, has died at the age of 89, Saturday, December 12, 2020.  During the 1950s and 1960s, le Carre (born David John Moore Cornwell) worked the British "Security Service" (MI5) and "Secret Intelligence Service" (MI6).  By the time he left the service, le Carre has already published three novels, including the international bestseller, "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" (1963).  Ten of his novels have been adapted into film, including 2001's "The Constant Gardener," which became the 2005 Oscar-winning film.

From RollingStone:  Iconic country music singer, Charley Pride, has died at the age of 86, Saturday, December 12, 2020 of complications of COVID-19.  Pride was a pioneering African-American country musician and is one of only three Black members of the "Grand Old Opry," and he was inducted into the "Country Music Hall of Fame" in 2000.  In 1971, at the "Country Music Association Awards, Pride won the "Entertainer of the Year" award.  Pride was a three-time Grammy Award winner, and received the "Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award" in 2017.

From RollingStone:   10 essential Charley Pride songs, according to Rolling Stone.
From Deadline:  The actress Marguerite Ray has died at the age of 89, November 18, 2020.  Ray was the first African-American regular on the CBS soap opera, "The Young and the Restless," playing the role of Mamie Johnson from 1980 to 1990.  Ray was also a regular on "Sanford" (1980-81), NBC's sequel series to "Sanford and Son."

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from May 24th to 31st, 2020 - Update #29

by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

Support Leroy on Patreon:


From CDC:   The Centers for Disease Control has a "COVID Data Tracker."

From YahooNews:  Why does COVID-19 kill some people and hardly affects others?

From YahooNews:  Yahoo has a dedicated page of links updating news about COVID-19.

From Deadline:  The news site "Deadline" has a dedicated page for news about coronavirus and the film, TV, and entertainment industries.

From TheNewYorker:  The venerable magazine has a dedicate COVID-19 page free to all readers.

From YahooNews:  Re: the federal government's response to COVID-19: What if the most important election of our lifetime was the last one - 2016?

From YahooLife:  What is "happy hypoxia?"  And do you have this COVID-19 symptom?

From JuanCole:  Remeber when President Donald went crazy and suggested that we ingest household cleaning supplies and UV light to fight COVID-19.  Here is the video and commentary from Juan Cole.

From TheIntercept:  The federal government has ramped up security and police-related spending in response to the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, including issuing contracts for riot gear, disclosures show. The purchase orders include requests for disposable cuffs, gas masks, ballistic helmets, and riot gloves...

From NPR:  A sad milestone: over 100,000 American have died due to COVID-19.

From ESPN:  NBA legend and retired player, Patrick Ewing (the New York Knicks), recently battle COVID-19 and was hospitalized.


MOVIES - From Deadline:   Apple will be finance and will be the "creative studios" for "Killers of the Flower Moon," which will be directed by Martin Scorsese and star Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.  The original studio, Paramount, will distribute the film worldwide.

MOVIES - From Deadline:  Doug Liman will direct that secretive Tom Cruise/Elon Musk/NASA that is supposedly going to be shot in space!

STREAMING - From BI:  Warner Media content chief, Kevin Reilly, says "we're closing deals every week" for content and talks HBO Max

MOVIES - From IndieWire:  Christopher Nolan bought a 747 to blow up for his new film, "Tenet," instead of relying on CGI.

TELEVISION - From IndieWire:  Although the 13th season of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" has yet to debut, the series has been contracted for a 15th season, which would make it the longest running live-action comedy series in American television history.  That would put it past the 14 seaons of ABC's sitcom, "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet."

CELEBRITY - From YahooEntertainment:  Woody Allen don't give a f**k!

MOVIES - From ComicBook:  Actor John David Washington said that he asked director Christopher Nolan questions about the plot of their film, "Tenet," every day of filming.

FILM FESTIVALS - From Deadline:  The governor of Italy's Veneto region said that the "Venice Film Festival," scheduled for September 2nd to the 12th, 2020, will go ahead as scheduled.

BLM-MUSIC - From YahooEntertainment:  A Louisiana man falsely imprisoned for 37 years stuns the judges of "America's Got Talent" with his audition.

DISNEY-NBA - From THRThe Walt Disney Company and the National Basketball Association (NBA) are in talks to resume the 2019-20 NBA season in late July.  Games would be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

PIXAR - From Deadline:  "Out," an animated short that Pixar produced for Disney+, features Pixar's first gay main character.

MOVIES - From VarietyJon Stewart, former host of "The Daily Show," has an upcoming political comedy film that he has written and directed, entitled "Irresistible."  It will debut on demand on June 26th and forego a theatrical release.

BLACK AMERICA AND COVID-19 - Crisis or... :


From NBCNews:  (5/26) - A Minneapolis black man, George Floyd, dies after pleading with a police officer that he could not breathe.

From YahooLifestyle:  Should the police officer who killed George Floyd be forgiven so quickly, if at all.  Welcome to "toxic black forgiveness."

From CNN:  Demonstrators in Europe rally to support #GeorgeFloyd protestors in the United States.

From YahooSports:   It is a big frickin' deal when a white NFL quarterback speaks out about the murder of George Floyd and the African-American community, even if that QB is an incoming rookie - in this case, Joe Burrows of the Cincinnati Bengals.

From YahooUSAToday:  "Qualified immunity" allows police officers to act like laws don't apply to them... because they don't.

From YahooABC:  The wife of Minneapolis police office, Derek Michael Chauvin, who killed George Floyd, says she is filing for divorce.

From NBCNews:  The phrase, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts," that Trump has twice used on Twitter has its origins in one of the darkest periods of American history.

From YahooSports:  Prominent sports figures react to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and remind people of why former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick protested by taking a knee before his games.

From CBSNews:  Because COVID-19 isn't killing Black people fast enough to satisfy some... Video shows Minneapolis cop with knee on neck of motionless, moaning man who later died.

From CNN:  The four police officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been fired.  That includes Officer Derek Chauvin who kneeled on Floyd's neck.

From TheDailyBeast:  Ira Toles, a black man, recounts how Minneapolis police office, Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck, tried to kill him in 2008.  He still bears the scars of Chauvin's violence.

CHRISTIAN COOPER - From YahooLifestyles:  New Yorker Amy Cooper becomes the latest white woman to go viral after making a false complaint against Christian Cooper, an African-American man via 911.

From YahooNewsAmy Cooper has been fired from her job at Franklin Templeton.


From THR:  A giant of a man, Larry Kramer, has died at the age of 84, Wednesday, May 27, 2020.  Kramer was a Tony Award-winning playwright, best known for the play, "The Normal Heart."  He received an Oscar-nomination for writing the screenplay for "Women in Love" (1969).   Many will remember him as a prominent and historically important LGBT rights activist and AIDS activist.  He was one of the founders of ACT UP, which led the charge in changing public policy regarding AIDS and with changing the perception of people living with it.

From THR:  Veteran character actor, Richard Herd, has died at the age of 87, Tuesday, May 26, 2020.  Herd is known for the numerous supporting, recurring, and guest roles he played in numerous TV series and films.  Herd was George Costanza's boss ("Mr. Wilhelm") in 11 episodes of "Seinfeld."  Herd appeared on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Star Trek: Voyager."  He also appeared in such notable films as "All the President's Men" and "The China Syndrome."

From Variety:  The Japanese pro wrestler, Hana Kimura, has died at the age of 22, Saturday, May 23, 2020.  Kimura was also a cast member of the most recent season of Netflix's "Terrace House."

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from April 12th to 18th, 2020 - Update #24

by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

Support Leroy on Patreon:

CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19 NEWS - Hollywood and Beyond:

From YahooNews:  Why does COVID-19 kill some people and hardly affects others?

From YahooNews:  Yahoo has a dedicated page of links updating news about COVID-19.

From Deadline:  The news site "Deadline" has a dedicated page for news about coronavirus and the film, TV, and entertainment industries.

From TheNewYorker:  The venerable magazine has a dedicate COVID-19 page free to all readers.

From YahooNews:  Re: the federal government's response to COVID-19: What if the most important election of our lifetime was the last one - 2016?

From YahooSports:   Brian Allen, the starting center for the Los Angeles Rams, announced that he has twice tested positive for COVID-19.  He is the first known NFL player to test positive for the virus.

From NBCSports:  Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller of the Denver Broncos has tested positive for COVID-19. 

From Deadline:  "Saturday Night Live" performer, Michael Che, is paying one month's rent for residents of the New York house complex where his late grandmother lived.  Che's grandmother, Martha, recently died of complications of COVID-19.

From NJHerald:  An investigation has been launched into an elder care facility after 17 bodies are found piled into a small morgue at the facility.

From Variety:  Thanks to a COVID-19 surge in orders, shares of Amazon's stock hits an all-time high.  The company is currently valued at 1.1 trillion dollars.

From CNN:  Actress and film producer, Rita Wilson (and wife of Tom Hanks), describes her experience with COVID-19 in her first interview

From YahooNewsPresident Donald once wanted to let COVID-19 "wash over the country."

From DeadlineDisney World to furlough 43,000 due to COVID-19 disruptions.


From YahooNews:  Deceased people are getting stimulus check... and the heirs and spouses may be able to keep them.

From YahooNews:  This article updates information on COVID-19 stimulus checks, including the introduction of a web tool that will let people track their checks.

According to the Washington Post, here is the timetable for when the IRS will start issuing checks to those who will receive their checks by mail:

Taxpayers with income up to $10,000: April 24

Taxpayers with income up to $20,000: May 1

Taxpayers with income up to $40,000: May 15.

The article has information about mailing dates after May 15th,


From Deadline:  The legendary celebrity, film and TV hairstylist, Charles Gregory Ross, died Wednesday, April 8, 2020 due to complications of COVID-19.  He worked on numerous film and TV productions over a nearly 30-year career.  Ross worked on many Tyler Perry productions and he received a 2005 Primetime Emmy Award nominations for his work on the 2005 HBO movie, "Lackawanna Blues."



MOVIES - From BET:  Halle Berry debuts her chiseled abs and hard new body as she preps for the martial arts drama, "Bruised," which she is directing.

TRAILER - From Variety:  Actor Tom Hardy and director Josh Trank's Al Capone biopic, "Capone," will hit video-on-demand (VOD) on May 12th.

MOVIES-CHARITY - From DeadlineLeonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro offer a chance to win a walk-on role in Martin Scorsese's film, "Killers of the Flower Moon."

TELEVISION - From THR:  The site offers a review of "The Last Dance," ESPN's 10-part documentary TV series about Michael Jordan and the NBA's Chicago Bulls.

TELEVISION - From Deadline:  CBS has cancelled its Sunday night TV series, "God Friended Me" after two seasons.  The two-hour series finale will be broadcast Sunday, April 26th.

BOX OFFICE - From Deadline:  Universal Pictures is still collecting data, but it expects a record-setting digital rental weekend for "Trolls: World Tour."  The DreamWorks Animation film was #1 on all on-demand platforms.

MOVIES - From VanityFair:  The magazine has a first look at Oscar-nominated actor Timothee Chalamet as "Paul Atreides" in director Denis Villeneuve's upcoming "Dune."

DISNEY - From Deadline:  Disney is in early development of a live-action/CG-hybrid of its animated film, "Robin Hood" (1973).  Carlos Lopez Estrada ("Blindspotting") will direct.

MOVIES - From DeadlineDwayne Johnson talks about a "Hobbs & Shaw" sequel and about losing out of "Jack Reacher" to Tom Cruise.


From Deadline:  Award-winning film, television, and stage actor, Brian Dennehy, has died at the age of 81, Wednesday, April 15, 2020, of cardiac arrest.  Dennehy is best known for his appearances in such films as "First Blood" (1982) and "Tommy Boy" (1995).  He won the Tony Award for "Best Actor in a Play," including for 1999 revival of the play, "Death of a Salesman."

From Heavy:  Prolific Japanese voice actor Keiji Fujiwara has died at the age of 55, Sunday, April 12, 2020 of cancer.  Fujiwara was a voice actor in numerous Japanese anime film ("Crayon Shin-chan" franchise) and television series ("Fullmetal Alchemist," "Kingdom Hearts") and video games ("Final Fantasy" franchise).  He also provided the Japanese dub for numerous English-language live-action movies.  He was most notably the Japanese voice dub for actor Robert Downey, Jr., providing the Japanese voice for Downey's "Tony Stark/Iron Man" and "Sherlock Holmes."

From CNN:  American actor and animation voice actor, Danny Goldman, has died at the age of 80, Monday, April 12, 2020, has died from complications of two strokes he suffered earlier this year.  Goldman is best known for being the voice of "Brainy Smurf" on NBC's Saturday morning animation series, "The Smurfs" (1981 to 1989).  His most memorable scene in a movie was as an annoying medical student vexing Gene Wilder in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" (1974).

From BleacherReport:  Former NFL quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has died at the age of 36, Sunday, April 12, 2020 in a single-car crash.  Jackson played in the NFL from 2006 to 2015.  It was during his second stint with the Seattle Seahawks (2013-2015) that he was a member of the Seahawks' Super Bowl XLVIII (#48 held on Feb. 2nd, 2014) championship team.  Since 2019, he had been a quarterbacks coach with Tennessee State University.

From CNN:   American entrepreneur, publisher, businessman, philanthropist, and advocate of African-American businesses, Earl G. Graves, Sr., has died at the age of 85, Monday, April 6, 2020 of complications from Alzheimer's disease.  Graves was best known for founding "Black Enterprise" magazine, which was founded to focus on Black entrepreneurs and Black businesses.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Oscar-nominated "Joker" Has Returned to Movie Theaters

Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” the Most Oscar-Nominated Film of the Year, to Be Re-Released in Theaters Nationwide Beginning January 17, Offering Audiences Another Opportunity to Experience the Bold, Acclaimed Film on the Big Screen

“Joker” leads all films with 11 Academy Award nominations and 11 BAFTA nods, and recently won two Golden Globes, including Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix’s mesmerizing performance

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and BRON Creative’s “Joker” returned to more than 750 cinemas across North America Friday, January 17, 2020. The film has garnered numerous awards and award nominations across all categories, among them: 11 Academy Award and BAFTA Award nominations—including Best Picture—more than any other film; two Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Awards wins, for star Joaquin Phoenix’s remarkable performance and composer Hildur Guðnadóttir’s haunting score; and the Golden Lion, the top honor at the Venice Film Festival.

    “With the continued interest in ‘Joker’ as a result of its recognition during this exciting awards season, we wanted to give audiences the chance to see the film on the big screen, whether for the first time or again.”

Lauded by critics as a film that will stand the test of time, “Joker” sits on many coveted Top 10 lists, including AFI. The film’s other accolades to date include Variety’s Creative Impact in Directing Award for Phillips; the Palm Springs International Film Festival Chairman’s Award for Phoenix; the Camerimage Audience Award and its Golden Frog for cinematographer Lawrence Sher; two Screen Actors Guild Award nominations; a Producers Guild Award nod; and multiple guild nominations.

Jeff Goldstein, President of Domestic Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures, stated, “With the continued interest in ‘Joker’ as a result of its recognition during this exciting awards season, we wanted to give audiences the chance to see the film on the big screen, whether for the first time or again.”

“Joker” took in over $1 billion worldwide in its initial run to become the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time.

About “Joker”
Forever alone in a crowd, Arthur Fleck seeks connection. Yet, as he trods the sooted Gotham City streets and rides the graffitied mass transit rails of a hostile town teeming with division and dissatisfaction, Arthur wears two masks. One, he paints on for his day job as a clown. The other he can never remove; it’s the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel he’s a part of the world around him, and not the misunderstood man whom life is repeatedly beating down. Fatherless, Arthur has a fragile mother, arguably his best friend, who nicknamed him Happy, a moniker that’s fostered in Arthur a smile that hides the heartache beneath. But, when bullied by teens on the streets, taunted by suits on the subway, or simply teased by his fellow clowns at work, this social outlier only becomes even more out of sync with everyone around him.

Directed, co-written and produced by Todd Phillips, “Joker” is the filmmaker’s original vision of the infamous DC villain, an origin story infused with, but distinctly outside, the character’s more traditional mythologies. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. Longing for any light to shine on him, he tries his hand as a stand-up comic, but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty and, ultimately, betrayal, Arthur makes one bad decision after another that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty, allegorical character study.

Four-time Oscar nominee Phoenix (“Joker,” “The Master,” “Walk the Line,” “Gladiator”) stars in the titular role alongside Oscar winner Robert De Niro (“Raging Bull,” “The Godfather: Part II”). The film also stars Zazie Beetz (TV’s “Atlanta,” “Deadpool 2”), Frances Conroy (TV’s “American Horror Story,” Hulu’s “Castle Rock”), Brett Cullen (“42,” Netflix’s “Narcos”), Glenn Fleshler (TV’s “Billions,” “Barry”), Bill Camp (“Red Sparrow,” “Molly’s Game”), Shea Whigham (“First Man,” “Kong: Skull Island”), Marc Maron (TV’s “Maron,” “GLOW”), Douglas Hodge (“Red Sparrow,” TV’s “Penny Dreadful”), Josh Pais (“Motherless Brooklyn,” “Going in Style”) and Leigh Gill (HBO’s “Game of Thrones”).

Oscar nominee Phillips (“Joker,” “Borat,” “The Hangover” trilogy) directed from a screenplay he co-wrote with Oscar-nominated writer Scott Silver (“Joker,” “The Fighter”), based on characters from DC. The film was produced by Phillips and Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper (“Joker,” “A Star Is Born,” “American Sniper”) under their Joint Effort banner, and Oscar nominee Emma Tillinger Koskoff (“Joker,” “The Irishman,” “The Wolf of Wall Street”). It was executive produced by Michael E. Uslan, Walter Hamada, Aaron L. Gilbert, Joseph Garner, Richard Baratta, and Bruce Berman.

Behind the scenes, Phillips was joined by Oscar-nominated director of photography Lawrence Sher (“Joker,” “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” “The Hangover” trilogy), production designer Mark Friedberg (“If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Selma”), Oscar-nominated editor Jeff Groth (“Joker,” “War Dogs,” “The Hangover Part III”), and Oscar-winning costume designer Mark Bridges (“Joker,” “Phantom Thread,” “The Artist”). The music is by Oscar-nominated composer Hildur Guðnadóttir (“Joker,” HBO’s “Chernobyl”).

Warner Bros. Pictures Presents, in Association with Village Roadshow Pictures, in Association with BRON Creative, a Joint Effort Production, a Film by Todd Phillips, “Joker.” It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures. This film has been rated R for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images.


Monday, January 6, 2020

Review: "Joker" Ain't No Joke

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 1 (of 2020) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Joker (2019)
Running time: 121 minutes (2 hours, 1 minute)
Rating: MPAA – R for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images
DIRECTOR:  Todd Phillips
WRITERS:  Todd Phillips and Scott Silver
PRODUCERS:  Todd Phillips, Bradley Cooper, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff
EDITOR:  Jeff Groth
COMPOSER:  Hildur Guðnadóttir


Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Shea Whigham, Bill Camp, Glenn Fleshler, Leigh Gill, Douglas Hodge, Carrie Louise Putrello, Sharon Washington, Brian Tyree Henry, and Dante Pereira-Olson

Joker is a 2019 crime drama from director Todd Phillips.  The movie offers a gritty character study and new origin story of The Joker, the classic Batman villain who first appeared in Batman #1 (cover dated: Spring 1940).

The film opens sometime in the early 1980s.  Gotham City is in a state of chaos because of political and social turmoil and also because of class conflict between the extremely wealthy and powerful and the ordinary citizens.  Gotham is also in the middle of a mayoral election and a strike by the sanitation workers, which means that no one is picking up the garbage.  Trash bags and refuse line the streets, and this has created a rodent problem so bad that people are talking about “super rats.”

One of Gotham's beleaguered citizens is Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a man with a history of mental illness, including a stint in a mental institution.  Fleck works as a “party clown,” but he aspires to be a stand-up comedian.  He lives with his ailing, aging mother, Penny Fleck (Frances Conroy), who also has a history of mental illness.

Living in poverty and being mostly a loner, Arthur Fleck feels he has been disregarded by society.  All his life, it seemed to him that no one even noticed that he existed, so he always wondered if he really existed.  Now, two unexpected incidents in a single day will change his life.  One is an accident and mistake that costs Arthur his job.  The other is a violent act of self-defense that will leave an already shocked city aghast.  But not everyone is appalled by the man who will become “Joker.”

After all the controversy and worry that it would inspire lonely, young men (particularly “incels,” the “involuntarily celibate”) to violence, Todd Phillips' Joker, the comic book movie that is not a comic book movie, turns out to be a somewhat more personal film and, on the part of Joaquin Phoenix, a more intimate performance than one would expect from all the hullabaloo.  Joker portrays the descent (or ascent?) of a man from mentally-ill invisible man to psychopathic murder and celebrated figure.

I don't know if Joker is Phoenix's best performance, because as good as the Oscar-nominated actor is here, this millennium has seen him deliver tour-de-force performances in varied roles across a variety of films.  If he deserves to be nominated for an Oscar or even win one for his performance in Joker, this performance is just the latest example of actor-as-artist who has been in full bloom for quite awhile.  Phoenix's performance as Arthur fleck is both gut-wrenching and utterly entertaining.  He manages to be both dark and light, pitiful and deadly in a role and performance that is too complex to describe in a paragraph or two.  I can say that in the annals of films based on comic books, Phoenix as Arthur Fleck is an immortal work of art.

Director Todd Phillips and his co-screenwriter, Scott Silver, have created a movie that is an evolution in the comic book film genre.  However, most comic book movies are meant to be popcorn entertainment, even when they are deeply thoughtful, poignant, and/or dramatic.  I believe that Joker is not meant to change the direction of such films coming from Marvel Studios' Marvel Cinematic Universe (the MCU) or from Warner Bros. line of DC Comics-inspired films.  Like Christopher Nolan did with his film, The Dark Knight (2008), Phillips points towards a different direction for comic book films with Joker.  I think that The Dark Knight partly inspired Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), so, in the next five years, I expect to see at least one great comic book movie following in the inspired dance steps of Joaquin Phoenix's Joker.

The film has good supporting performances; for me, Robert De Niro as television talk show host, Murray Franklin, and Zazie Beetz as “love interest,” Sophie Dumond, who makes the most of her relatively small role, are standouts.  The crazy, ominous, gorgeous film score by Hildur Guðnadóttir is also one of the film's most special elements.

In Joker, Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Phillips have created something scary, beautiful, fantastic, exhilarating, funny, and dazzling.  I will admit that sometimes it scared me and made me uncomfortable, but I love it all the more because of that.  Joker is a bravura act of cinema.

9 of 10

Saturday, October 5, 2019

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