Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Michael Jackson's This is It-Review

Michael Jackson's This is It

Directed by Kenny Ortega
Michael Jackson (stage actions)

Produced by Paul Gongaware,
Randy Phillips

Cinematography by Kevin Mazur

Released: Ocotber 28, 2009 (USA)

REVIEW by Cool Black

This Is It...Ain't It. Before you say that's cold. Let me explain. I’m gonna say it from the start, this movie is ok. Don’t get it twisted, I didn’t hate it and it’s not a bad movie, but you have to keep in mind several factors.

This footage was never meant to be released as a film. It's NOT a documentary and doesn't have a story. This is a bunch of filmed rehearsals. It was meant to be compiled into one of those promotional films that plays while Michael changes costumes and the crew changes the sets and stuff. All of this footage probably was supposed to be in a 10-15 minute film not a 2 hour one.

Having said that, you do get glimpses (only glimpses) into what a creative person and perfectionist he was. You also get glimpses into what a FANTASTIC tour this would have been. You get to see some of the set designs and set-ups for his most popular songs. Also let me say that 95% of this film is Michael. I was expecting a lot of filler interviews and such, but there wasn’t. It’s all Michael and kudos to the filmmakers for that.

Latoya Jackson stated that she felt that Michael wouldn't have wanted the film to have been released because he wasn't giving his all into his performances.

"Michael [Jackson] always wants to give his best. This is a rehearsal. He wasn’t giving his all [...] He loves to give his all always. That’s just the way he is. He wants people to see him at the top of the ladder and not half-stepping because he doesn’t want to do a full-out rehearsal."*

That seems true in this film, these are rehearsals and Michael didn’t want to go “full blast” with his singing and dancing, but the film happens to catch moments when he just couldn’t help it and sang and danced his heart out. His voice was just as perfect as ever and his dancing was equally on point.

The end result of this film is that you see that Michael wasn’t in this just to make a buck, he wasn’t going to “phone it in”. Michael was committed to bringing an ultimate concert experience and nothing less. A true testament to his vision, his talent, his genius.

*Latoya Jackson quote source: Access Hollywood

Cool Black's Mad Commentary: After his death there were reports that Michael was not physically fit enough to do this tour. While he was quite thin, he was moving, grooving and singing just as well as he ever has. As a filmmaker I know that any footage that cast Michael in a negative light (as far as his health) would never make it into this film, but from what I saw he was ready as ever.

Related post: Michael Jackson Memories


Big Sunday shows 'This Is It' isn't performing like a concert film
Los Angeles Times
November 2, 2009 1:13 pm

"This Is It" continues to throw all the old rules about concert movies out the window.

Domestic ticket sales for the Michael Jackson (pictured left) movie totaled $8.3 million on Sunday, nearly $2 million more than the $6.3 million Sony Pictures projected Sunday morning and 17% more than the movie grossed on Saturday. The movie's total domestic gross is now $34.4 million, making the worldwide number $103 million.

Concert movies traditionally see ticket sales decline rapidly after they premiere, as avid fans who turn out on opening day make up most of the audience. But "This Is It" grossed more on Sunday than any day since it debuted, a sign that word-of-mouth is strong and moviegoers who initially may have been hesitant are turning out. There also may be repeat viewing, which is often the case for concert films.

If the trend continues, "This Is It" should enjoy a relatively modest decline next weekend, and what initially looked like a middling domestic performance may actually turn into a pretty good one, albeit not nearly as big as overseas. That's where Jackson is really cleaning up.

-- Ben Fritz

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Brooklyn Week: Da Rap Up

Da "rap" up get it? since Brooklyn Week was devoted to rappers...Cool Black knows how to spell if not make a good pun.

Irregardless, here is a recap with links to our "Brooklyn Week"

Friday, October 16, 2009

Brooklyn Week: Notorious B.I.G.

Christopher George Latore Wallace (May 21, 1972 – March 9, 1997), popularly known as Biggie Smalls (after a fictional gangster in the 1975 film Let's Do It Again), Frank White (from the 1990 film King of New York), and his primary stage name The Notorious B.I.G., (pictured above) was an American rapper.

Brooklyn Pedigree:
Born in St. Mary's Hospital, although claiming to be raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, the apartment Wallace grew up in is located in neighboring Clinton Hill.

Read more about Biggie at Wikipedia

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Brooklyn Week: Jay-Z

Shawn Corey Carter (born December 4, 1969), better known by his stage name, Jay-Z (pronounced [jæːze], JAY-zee), (pictured left) is an American hip hop artist and businessman. He is one of the most financially successful hip hop artists and entrepreneurs in America, having a net worth of over $150 million, shipping over 30 million copies of his albums in the United States alone and receiving several Grammy Awards for his musical work.

Brooklyn Pedigree: Originally from Marcy Houses housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City.

Read more about Jay-Z at Wikipedia

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Brooklyn Week: Lil Kim

Kimberly Denise Jones (born July 11, 1975), better known by her stage name Lil' Kim, (Pictured left) is an American rapper and singer who was part of the group Junior M.A.F.I.A.

Brooklyn Pedigree:
Jones was born and raised in Brooklyn.

Read more about Kim at Wikipedia

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Brooklyn Week: Fabolous

John David Jackson (born November 18, 1977), better known by his stage name Fabolous [sic](pictured left), is an American recording artist.

Brooklyn Pedigree: Grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.

Read more about Fabolous at Wikipedia

Monday, October 12, 2009

Brooklyn Week: Busta Rhymes

Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr., better known as Busta Rhymes (born May 20, 1972)(pictured left), is a Grammy-nominated Jamaican-American rapper, songwriter, and actor. Chuck D of Public Enemy gave him the name Busta Rhymes (from former NFL wide receiver George "Buster" Rhymes).

Brooklyn Pedigree: Was born in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.

Read more about Busta at Wikipedia

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Brooklyn Week-Inauguration

Welcome to BROOKLYN WEEK a fun little excercise I thought about and decided to do.

Brooklyn Week is a week at Cool Black Media devoted to artists from Brooklyn, New York. The first Brooklyn Week is devoted to hip-hop, but you never know it may be expanded in the future.

Brooklyn week is actually Monday-Friday, but Imma start it off with someone who wasn't born in Brooklyn (pretty much a prerequisite), but who reps Brooklyn to the FULLEST. And to answer your question Cool Black was BORN IN BROOKLYN!

Shelton Jackson "Spike" Lee (born March 20, 1957) (pictured left) is an American film director, producer, writer, and actor. He also teaches film at New York University and Columbia University. His production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, has produced over 35 films since 1983.

Lee's movies have examined race relations, the role of media in contemporary life, urban crime and poverty, and other political issues. Lee has won an Emmy Award and was nominated for an Academy Award.

Cool Black's Favorite Five Spike Lee Joints
1. Do The Right Thing
2. Malcolm X
3. Bamboozled
4. Jungle Fever
5. School Daze

Read more about Spike at Wikipedia


JUNE 1, 2011
I recently added reviews of two books Mr. Lee wrote to GoodReads. Those reviews are below.

By Any Means Necessary: The Trials and Tribulations of the Making of Malcolm XBy Any Means Necessary: The Trials and Tribulations of the Making of Malcolm X by Malcolm X

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t even know why I bought this book about the film ‘Malcolm X’ (1992) but if you ever want to know how hard it is to get a film made in Hollywood ESPECIALLY a period piece epic, this is the book you should read. Even if you’re not that interested in how a movie is made, it is STILL an interesting read as a tale of “Trials and Tribulations”.

By Any Means Necessary is not just a means to piggyback on brother Malcolm’s famous phrase, but it crystallizes exactly the mentality Mr. Lee had in mind when making this film. To me the narratives in this book were just as engrossing as the film itself.

PS: For the record the famous quote is-

"We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary. ” — Malcolm X, 1965



My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Do the Right Thing’ is my FAVORITE “Spike Lee Joint”. Don’t know why it took me so long to get this book, but it did. Probably because I owned, and poured over all of the extras on the 2 Disc DVD. What more could I learn right? Turns out a lot more. Yes the DVD was very detailed, but much insight is to be gained in this book mostly curated from his journals while making this DTRT.

For most of all of his early films, Spike Lee published an accompanying book. This was also mostly before DVDs with all of their commentaries and extras. Even back then it seems that Mr. Lee knew that other filmmakers like me were interested not only in his films, but the stories behind them as well.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lisa Nicole Carson: Whatever Happened to her?

Baltimore Acting Legend Verna Day funeral details

Dear Friends and Colleagues in the Theatre, Film and Television Community:

As you may or may not know Verna Day-Jones (pictured left) passed on Friday morning, October 2, 2009. The very versatile Verna was not only one of the oldest SAG / AFTRA members in Maryland, acting in hundreds of movies, plays, television programs and commercials over more than
six decades, she was also a pioneering African American actress both on stage and
screen. A founding member of Baltimore's Arena Players, the 85 year old actress hob-nobbed with Lena Horne and other blackactors of note during her early years. She was a member of the first integrated acting troup in Maryland. Verna also appeared on television in the 1960's in special Black History month broadcasts depicting the black struggle at a time when that was almost never done. Her body of work and accomplishments as an actress are too numerous to list.

Few in her acting circles, however, knew the extent of her role as an early member of the National Council of Negro Women, an organization with a strong civil rights focus founded by Mary McCloudBethune and Dr. Dorothy I. Height, a contemporary of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Verna Day-Jones stayed active right up to the very end of her lengthy life. She could be seen in television commercials running in the DC area as recent as the week of her death. Having performed hundreds of parts, it was her one woman show portrayals of Harriet Tubman and Mary McCloud Bethune that were her favorite, and they were second to none.

A standing ovation to you Ms. Verna Day-Jones. You were a pioneer, a mentor to hundreds of African American actors, a community and civil rights activist, a wife and mother, a diva, and a realtrooper to the very end.

Below are the arrangements.

Vaughn C. Greene Funeral Services
8728 Liberty Road Randallstown,
MD 21133 (410) 655-0015

Saturday, October 10, 2009 12 noon - 5:00 PM and
Sunday, October 11, 2009 12 noon - 8:00 PM

Douglas Memorial Community Church
1325 Madison Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21217 (410) 523-1700

Monday, October 12, 2009
Wake: 10:00 am
Funeral: 11:00 am

Condolences can be sent to:

Ms Stephanie Carter (Daughter)
2508 Oakley Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21215


Romaine Dorsey (SAG Member)

-Info from DavidAlexanderGroup

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Marlon Wayans in talks to play Richard Pryor

Pryor role in new biopic after Eddie Murphy dropped out
BY Robert Dominguez

Thursday, October 8th 2009

Comic actor Marlon Wayans' (above left) next screen role could turn out to be portraying a real-life comedy icon. reports that Wayans is in talks to play Richard Pryor,(above right) the groundbreaking comedian whose troubled life will be depicted in an upcoming biopic, "Richard Pryor: Is it Something I Said."

Wayans is reportedly being considered for the part after fellow funnyman Eddie Murphy dropped out of negotiations early on. The film was written and will be directed by Bill Condon of "Dreamgirls," who originally shopped it as a vehicle for Murphy.

Sources told that Wayans, best known for such over-the-top comedy films as the "Scary Movie" franchise and "White Chicks," impressed producers in a 13-minute screen test in which he "transforms into Pryor."

The Pryor project, scheduled to begin shooting in the spring, is being made by Sony Pictures and Adam Sandler's production company. reports that Sandler is considering playing a small role as Pryor's first agent.

Budgeted at about $20 million, the movie will cover Pryor's controversial life and career as a raunchy standup, beloved movie star and troubled drug addict who famously set himself on fire while freebasing cocaine.

Pryor died in 2005 at age 65 after a series of health problems, including multiple sclerosis.

Cool Black's Mad Commentary: I think Marlon is one of the most (if not THE most) talented of the vast Wayans clan. I've seen him do drama (Requiem for a Dream) and he was pretty good. I would like to see what he does with the role.