Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Kanye West — Yeezus The Cool Black Review

Kanye West — Yeezus

Yeezus, like his 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak is a departure from Kanye’s usual hip hop offerings. As Kanye classified 808s & Heartbreak a pop album, that incorporated elements of synthpop, electronica, R&B, and electropop, so is Yeezus. While the 808 tracks are primarily sung rather than rapped by Kanye, the Yeezus tracks are mostly rapped. 

While the musical styles vary from song to song and sometimes in a song itself I think the album as a whole WORKS. While not all the tracks (any?) are radio singles, the album works if you listen to it as a whole. There are several tracks that do stand out and classify as HOT that I have listed below.

I like Yeezus a lot and I applaud Kanye for trying something different—and making it work!

1. On Sight HOT
2. Black Skinhead HOT
3. I Am God (featuring Justin Vernon) warm
4. New Slaves (featuring Frank Ocean) HOT
5. Hold My Liquor (featuring Chief Keef and Justin Vernon)
6. I'm In It (featuring Justin Vernon and Assassin)
7. Blood on the Leaves HOT
8. Guilt Trip (featuring Kid Cudi)
9. Send It Up (featuring King L) warm
10. Bound 2 (featuring Charlie Wilson) HOT

Reviews of previous Kanye Albums

808s & Heartbreak - A quick review

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our blog posts about KANYE WEST

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Marvel Movies: Phase Two and Beyond

Blog Post #17
In April 2005 Marvel Studios launched a plan on developing all of the solo Avengers in their own pictures to eventually “assemble” them in one film, The Avengers in what they are now calling "Phase One" ( I ranked them all in a previous post here)

In order of release:
1. Iron Man (May 2, 2008)
2. The Incredible Hulk (June 13, 2008)
3. Iron Man 2 (May 7, 2010)
4. Thor (May 6, 2011)
5. Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22, 2011)

The Avengers (May 4, 2012) 


Phase Two will begin with Iron Man 3 (May 3, 2013)





Scheduled for May 1, 2015

Phase Three reportedly will start with 

Scheduled for November 6, 2015

Monday, July 15, 2013

'Fruitvale Station' Opens Strong

‘Fruitvale Station’ Bows Strong Amid Trayvon Martin Reaction

Andrew Stewart, Variety Magazine
July 14, 2013

Weinstein Co. pic earns weekend's highest per-screen average with nearly $54K

The opening of “Fruitvale Station” on the same weekend as the Trayvon Martin trial concluded was certainly not planned on purpose. But the similarity of the two high-profile shootings was a potent reminder for the Weinstein Co. pickup, which scored the weekend’s highest per-screen average of nearly $54,000 from seven locations, including the sold-out Grand Lake theater in Oakland, Calif.

“Obviously, we had no idea of what would be going on at the time we dated the movie, but it’s very topical,” said Weinstein distribution topper Erik Lomis, referring to Saturday’s acquittal of Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watchman,  in Sanford, Fla.

“It’s hard to watch this film and not be moved,” Lomis added.

“Fruitvale” is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a young African-American man in Oakland, who was shot and killed by a BART police officer in 2009.

The film, which stars Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer, sold out Friday night and Saturday evening screenings at the Oakland location, as well as at the Arclight Hollywood and the Angelika in New York.

Many supporters of “Fruitvale” found the timing of the opening particularly resonated with the news of George Zimmerman’s acquittal.

Spike Lee quoted his wife Tonya Lewis Lee’s support of the film on Twitter.
The Sundance dramatic grand jury award-winning pic has been mentioned as an early Oscar contender. Opening weekend skewed mostly toward white audiences, with African-Americans contributing 29%.

The Zimmerman case also touched the biz last summer when Fox was faced with the decision of whether or not to change the title of its comedy “Neighborhood Watch” to just “The Watch.” The studio ultimately did, though the film — which was released six months after the Martin shooting in February 2012 — struggled to find an audience, grossing just $35 million domestically.

Weinstein plans to expand “Fruitvale” to six more cities on Friday, including Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta, Washington D.C. and Houston, before breaking out the film nationwide the following weekend.

Earlier News
Sundance 2013: Weinstein Co. buys 'Fruitvale'

By John Horn and Amy Kaufman | Los Angeles Times
January 21, 2013, 1:45 p.m.

PARK CITY, Utah -- In a deal for about $2 million, the Weinstein Co. has acquired rights to the drama “Fruitvale,” shown at the Sundance Film Festival, according to a person close to the film who was not authorized to speak on the record.

“Fruitvale” is based on the 2009 shooting of 22-year-old African American father Oscar Grant by a BART police officer in Oakland, an event that sparked outrage among community activists.

The film, starring up-and-comer Michael B. Jordan in the lead role and directed and written by Ryan Coogler, follows Grant in the 24 hours before his death, during which he spends time with his family and decides to stop dealing marijuana.

Sundance 2013 Awards Emcee Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Fruitvale Wins Top Prizes at Sundance
January 26, 2013

The Sundance Film Festival honored its top entries during an evening ceremony Jan. 26 near Park City, where 26-year-old Ryan Coogler’s drama Fruitvale was honored with both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize.
Associated Press - Director and screenwriter Ryan Coogler reacts as he accepts the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic for "Fruitvale" during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP

“It’s about how we treat people we love the most, and how we treat the people we don’t know,” Coogler said. “To get this award means it had a profound impact on the audiences who saw it.”

Emcee Joseph Gordon-Levitt expressed his feelings for the film, based on the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant by BART officials in Oakland, a little differently: “I f---ing love that movie!” he exclaimed after the film took home the Audience Award.

—Info from The Hollywood Reporter


Fruitvale Station Opening Weekend
July 29, 2013

Even though it started opening in selected cities July 12, 2013 the film opened nationwide on July 26, 2013. Below is its box office receipts.
Fruitvale Station, from The Weinstein Co., placed No. 10, grossing an outstanding $4.7 million from 1,030 theaters for a location average of $4,377 and cume of $6.3 million. Ryan Coogler's critically acclaimed film, prospering in both art house and African-American theaters, recounts the real-life shooting of an unarmed young black man by a BART police officer in Oakland. The film, which should end the weekend with a domestic cume of $6.3 million, has drawn numerous parallels to the Trayvon Martin case. 
"The fact that it is in the top 10 is pretty impressive," said Erik Lomis, president of distribution for TWC.—The Hollywood Reporter

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Jim Kelly Dies

'Enter the Dragon' Actor Jim Kelly Dies at 67
Jim Kelly in 1974's "Three the Hard Way."

June 30, 2013,The Hollywood Reporter Staff

Jim Kelly, a martial artist famous for his role in the 1973 Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon, died on Saturday of cancer, his ex-wife Marilyn Dishman told the Associated Press.

"Yesterday, June 29, 2013, James Milton Kelly, better known as Jim Kelly, the Karate expert, actor, my first husband and Sabrena Kelly-Lewis's biological father died," Dishman wrote in a Facebook note about his passing. "Sabrena needs all of your good thoughts and prayers. This is a difficult situation to process. Even I am having trouble processing it. Like his mother, there will be no service!"

Kelly starred in numerous martial arts films in the 1970's, including Black Belt Jones, Three the Hard Way and Black Samurai. He later left acting and became a professional tennis player. He appeared in a commercial with NBA star LeBron James in 2004.

"I never left the movie business," Kelly told the LA Times in 2010. "It's just that after a certain point, I didn't get the type of projects that I wanted to do. I still get at least three scripts per year, but most of them don't put forth a positive image. There's nothing I really want to do, so I don't do it. If it happens, it happens, but if not, I'm happy with what I've accomplished."

Kelly, who was born in May 1946, was the second cousin of baseball star Willie Mays. He was a talented natural athlete who grew up in Kentucky and starred in football, baseball and track teams.

In 1971, he won four major martial arts championships in a row and became a star in the karate world. Producer Fred Weintraub hired him for a small role in 1973's Enter The Dragon and teamed with the actor again for Black Belt Jones.


Jim Kelly and Gloria Hendry in Black Belt Jones
3 Jim Kelly Film Recommendations For Those Unaware Of His Contributions To Cinema

By Sergio, Shadow & Act
July 1, 2013

I’ve been asked by Tambay, with the passing of Jim Kelly on June 29th at his home in San Diego after a battle with cancer, what Jim Kelly films I would recommend to those who are unfamiliar with his work (and if you are, I mean like, seriously, where in the hell have you been?).

So as a sort primer to introduce him to the uninitiated, out of the 16 films that he made during his film career, there are three that I must recommend as “must sees”.

First of all, there is of course 1973’s Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee(who died just a month before the film’s release under what I still consider to be mysterious circumstances) and John Saxon, directed by Robert Clouse (though Lee actually choreographed and staged the fight sequences in the film).

It wasn’t actually Kelly’s first film. That was the Blaxploitation classic Melinda (which is, no doubt, a candidate to be released sometime soon on the Warner Archive DVD-on-demand label) which was released the year before in 1972.

According to an extensive interview with Kelly with the Number 38 issue of Shock Cinema magazine (which is still available on order from the magazine), Kelly was hired at first just to train the lead actor, Calvin Lockhart, in some martial arts fighting for his character in the film. But the producers saw something in Kelly and wound up giving him a supporting role in the film.

But as for Dragon, Kelly was, literally, a last minute addition. Originally, another actor was supposed to play the role of Williams in the film, but was let go at the last minute. And so the producers were desperately looking for a black actor who was an expert in martial arts to replace Williams in a project that was to start shooting the following week.

Kelly’s agent had him rush to Warner Bros to meet with the producers and Clouse, and they practically offered him the part right then and there, from the moment he walked in the door. The right man, at the right time for the right film.

But for many, Kelly was a charismatic new face, full of swagger and supreme self-confidence, not in only martial arts, but in the bedroom as well (those of you who know the film, know exactly what I’m talking about). We had never seen a genuine black martial artist on the screen before, and it was definitely not only exciting, but incredibly inspiring as well.

Of course Dragon has never been unavailable on video, and has been reissued and remastered several times - most recently, just last month, when the totally remastered 40th Anniversary Blu-ray DVD from Warmers Home Video came out.

In fact, one reviewer of this new release, with its three hours worth of extras and other special features, said that, this new Blu-ray “has quite simply never looked better; I seriously doubt it could look much better than it does here. It not only outclasses, out-paces and out-maneuvers its earlier 2007 Blu-ray counterpart and that… it’s the definitive presentation of Enter the Dragon."

Which means you have no excuse not to get it. Needless to say I already have it.

The success of Dragon made way for Kelly’s first starring role, and my second recommendation in Black Belt Jones, which was essentially an old fashioned B-movie, but an incredibly entertaining one just the same.
It came from the same producers and director of Enter The Dragon. The film, never for one moment, takes itself seriously. Taking a tried and true old B western movie premise of bad guys after the deed to the ranch, the film centers around a group of Mafia goons and their black gangster pawns, who try to take over a martial arts school, as the property will soon become valuable.

The thin plot framework however is an excuse for some wonderful martial arts action, not only by Kelly, but his co-star Gloria Hendry as well (pictured above; and who admittedly is a little stiff in the film, showing signs of a crash course on martial arts during pre-production, but who does the job nevertheless).

It’s goofy, exciting, filled with laughs, but more importantly, showed that Kelly could hold his own as a leading man (the title sequence from Jones below gives a really good idea of the light heartedness and terrific martial arts fight sequences throughout the film).

And this leads to the third film which I recommend - a film I mentioned yesterday, calling it the “Ultimate Blaxploitation film” in Three The Hard Way.

Directed by Gordon Parks Jr., the son of legendary photographer, film director and all-around renaissance man, Gordon Parks, and who directed Superfly and Aaron Loves Angela (a sadly overlooked film), and who tragically died in a plane crash while scouting locations for a film project in 1979, Three The Hard Way film is nutty, yet truly ambitious in its scope.
At the time, the most expensive Blaxploitation film when it came out in 1974, the James Bondian action thriller tells of three friends (Jim BrownFred Williamson and Kelly) who discover a plot to literally kill every single black person in the U.S.

The plan is hatched by a crazed white supremacist with his own private army, who has developed, for him, a special chemical in which he plans to contaminate the nation’s water supply in three different locations around the country that won’t affect white people, but will give every black person sickle cell anemia.

Sounds farfetched? Sure. But it’s totally in keeping with some villain’s mad scheme to totally dominate the world in any James Bond film. And besides the idea of three black men saving the entire black race is too delicious and wonderful to ignore. You think any studio would make a film like that today? Right, exactly!

Also considering the rise of extremist groups such as the Tea Party, which is not too dissimilar to the white supremacist group in the film (on second thought, they’re exactly like the group in the film), as well as last week’s Supreme Court decision disemboweling the Voting Rights Act, among other recent legal actions weakening Civil Rights laws, and just our natural paranoia anyway, I argue that Three The Hard Way is just as relevant today (maybe even more so)  than it was when it first came out.

Besides, you couldn’t make this film today, since I can’t think of three hyper masculine Alpha Male black actors like Brown, Williamson and Kelly today (or three tough as nails, take no prisoners black actresses for that matter) who could play the leads in the film.

But Kelly goes up against the manliest black men in cinema and holds up his own as their equal in every way.

And fortunately, both Three the Hard Way and Black Belt Jones are available together on an Urban Collection Film Favorites DVD available on Warner Home Video.

So now you have no excuse not to know who Jim Kelly is, as well as his on-screen work, why he is (not was) so important to so many people around the globe, and why he will always have a lasting impact.

Here's the clip from Black Belt Jones: