Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Greatest Avengers Story I Ever Read

Blog Post #18
I wrote the below review about the trade paperback and added my filmmaker's opinion about how we can see an adaptation!

Avengers: Under SiegeAvengers: Under Siege by Roger Stern
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Way back when these were originally published (1986-1987) I read the original printing of these issues Avengers #270-277-- written by Roger Stern and illustrated by John Buscema and Tom Palmer.

I had been reading the Avengers for about six months when this storyline came up and I thought it was one of the best comic book stories I have ever read. I guess Marvel Comics did too and published this storyline in this trade paperback.

Led by Baron Zemo, the newly formed Masters of Evil formulated a plan to not only defeat the Avengers, but completely decimate them.

The Avengers line-up at the time of the siege was:
Captain America
Captain Marvel
Black Knight

Joining later was:
Doctor Druid

The Masters of Evil were:
Baron Helmut Zemo
Absorbing Man
Black Mamba
Grey Gargoyle
Mister Hyde
Screaming Mimi
Tiger Shark

The Wrecking Crew

The panel from the Avengers book that introduces the Masters of Evil

As you can see the numbers were stacked against the Avengers and The Masters of Evil took on the Avengers piece by piece. Just when you thought there was no way the Avengers could survive…well you have to read the book, but everything in the end was not a happy ending.

Ultimately though it was a great storyline filled with action and plot twists and as Oliver Sava, A.V.Club.com put it "Roger Stern and John Buscema's 1986 story arc 'Under Siege' finds Avengers Mansion under attack by a new Masters of Evil, leading to one of the purest superhero-vs.-supervillain team fights ever put on the page.”

As stated this was one of the greatest superhero/supervillain battles ever and of course given the success of the Avengers movie (2012) this would make a great follow-up…but it’s just too expensive to ever make into a live action film.

The fights in the book were awesome and bombastic and possibly could be filmed, but the amount of characters, heroes and villains would just be too much.

I think for an ANIMATED film it could be a great adaptation.

*You can read this story yourself in the trade paperback "Avengers: Under Siege". Look for it at your library or book retailer.

Another Cool Black's Mad Meditation "Ranking the Solo Avengers Movies" click the graphic below to read it!

View all my BOOK reviews

Monday, November 4, 2013

Magna Carta Holy Grail - The Cool Black Review


Before I start, some background.

On June 16 during the fifth game of the 2013 NBA Finals, Jay-Z was featured in a new commercial by Samsung where he announced that his twelfth studio album would be titled, Magna Carta Holy Grail and would be released on July 4, 2013. He was seen speaking to producer Rick Rubin in the studio about the album saying, "The album is about, like this duality of how do you navigate through this whole thing, through success, through failures, through all this and remain yourself." The commercial featured producers that are confirmed to be on the album including Timbaland, Swizz Beatz and Pharrell Williams. The album was available for free download on July 4, 12:01 a.m. EST, to the first one million Samsung mobile device users via an app. —Wikipedia

Watch that spot below.

I was watching that fifth game of the 2013 NBA Finals when that commercial came on and in the subsequent days when the online hype reached a fever pitch I posted the below on social media.

Let me tell you about this #MagnaCarta. I'm a Jay-Z fan, I bought his last Ep #LiveInBrooklyn and will probably buy this new one, no frontin, BUT let me be clear unless he was holding them for this album Hov's mic skills have fell the f*ck OFF! I can't remember the last time I heard a Hov verse and said "YOOOO that was the sh*t!" I mean the best MC on #WatchTheThrone wasn't Hov. Let's keep it real. Bringing in all these superstar producers? *Yawn*  I'm not a fan of JUST hot beats I'm a fan of wicked rhymes and effortless spitting. Give me the complete package or don't do it!  I'm still a fan, but don't expect me to fall for the okey doke because you got some other stars on the album. If that's it he needs to as his t-shirt says #GoHome.
Well it seems like hot beats may be enough because I have to admit MCHG was one of the best hip hop albums of summer 2013. As stated MCHG has some superstar producers and the beats aren’t just hot, they’re smoking hot! 

From the album opening Holy Grail featuring Justin Timberlake to the old school sounding beats of Picasso Baby (both produced by Timbaland) the album don’t stop with the hot tracks. 

Pharrell comes through with the bangers Oceans (featuring Frank Ocean) and BBC featuring NaS, but it is Timbaland that reigns heavy over MCHG. Timbaland worked on 7 out the 14 songs, an astounding SIX of those seven are HOT! It has to be said that Timbaland has co-credits on most of these songs, but most of them he has “chief credit”.

Among the best Timbaland songs are the best use of a Biggie sample I’ve ever heard on JAY Z Blue. The song cleverly blends samples from "My Downfall" by The Notorious B.I.G. with Jay-Z’s vocals. Timbaland also produced the R&B sounding Part II (On the Run) featuring Beyoncé that is mostly R&B, but a great “sequel” to Hov & B’s 03 Bonnie & Clyde. The other HOT tracks Timbaland worked on were the aforementioned Oceans and FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt.

In the end, Hov’s rhymes aren’t as innovative as they used to be, but they’re good enough to still make hot songs and in this case one of the hottest albums of the summer. I really have to say that. After giving much shade and skepticism over the way he announced the album, I think he deserves as much.

Below is what I thought were the HOT tracks.

1. Holy Grail (featuring Justin TimberlakeHOT
2. Picasso Baby HOT 
3. Tom Ford HOT
4. FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt (featuring Rick RossHOT
5. Oceans (featuring Frank OceanHOT
6. F.U.T.W.  
7. Somewhereinamerica  
8. Crown warm
9. Heaven
10. Versus (interlude)
11. Part II (On the Run) (featuring BeyoncéHOT
12. Beach Is Better (interlude)
13. BBC (featuring NaS) HOT
14. JAY Z Blue HOT
15. La Familia
16. Nickels and Dimes warm

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Roundtable [VIDEO]

October 31, 2013
The Hollywood Reporter's annual series kicks off with a candid conversation featuring Matthew McConaughey, Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, Josh Brolin and Michael B. Jordan.

From oldest to youngest they are:
  • Forest Whitaker, 52
  • Josh Brolin, 45 
  • Matthew McConaughey, 43 
  • Jared Leto, 41
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, 32 
  • Michael B. Jordan, 26

Watch the video below 

Novembe14, 2013
Steve McQueen, Paul Greengrass, David O. Russell, Ben Stiller, Alfonso Cuaron and Lee Daniels on explaining long days on set to their kids, getting notes from executives and what made them go behind the camera for the first time.

Watch the video below

Thursday, September 5, 2013

How Vin Diesel Got The Rights to "Riddick" Back

Vin Diesel's Shrewd Move: Trading 'Fast & Furious' Cameo to Own 'Riddick' Rights
by Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter
September 4, 2013
How the franchise star revived the breakout role from 2000's "Pitch Black" after its sequel fizzled, leading to "Riddick."

Vin Diesel doesn't just play Riddick, the intergalactic ex-con who can see in the dark, he owns the role -- literally. And thanks to some shrewd maneuvers from the muscle-bound star, he has kept the franchise alive: Nine years after the last movie in the series, Universal is releasing Riddick on Sept. 6.

Diesel, 46, and Riddick writer-director David Twohy have overcome obstacles, but the key move came in 2006, when Universal asked Diesel to make a cameo in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. (Diesel had starred in the first Fast and the Furious in 2001 but walked away from the first two sequels.) Looking to recharge the series, the studio wanted to use his brief return in Tokyo Drift to signal he would be back center stage in a fourth movie. Diesel agreed, but instead of an acting fee, he demanded the studio give him and his One Race production company rights to the Riddick character.

When he hit the screen in 2000 in the low-budget Pitch Black, Riddick became a breakout role for Diesel, who had only had supporting parts in Saving Private Ryan and Boiler Room. Originally, PolyGram wanted Steven Seagal. "It's easy to see Vin now in it, but auditioning is not his gift," recalls Twohy. "He didn't rise to the top of the heap in a clear way, but there was something there."

Twohy and producer Ted Field championed the actor, and Pitch Black, produced for about $22 million, turned a modest profit, grossing $53 million worldwide. But when 2004's sequel The Chronicles of Riddick, which cost more than $100 million, took in only $116 million worldwide, plans for more movies disappeared.

Diesel, his star rising with the continuing success of the Fast & Furious franchise, couldn't shake the underdog Riddick, though. "It's the story of my life," he said in an emotional speech at Riddick's L.A. premiere Aug. 28.

So in 2009, Twohy and Diesel hunkered down in Diesel's kitchen and hammered out a new story. Instead of continuing in the extravagant vein of the second film, they returned to basics, with a lone Riddick marooned on a hostile planet. The project, with Diesel and Field producing, was introduced in 2010 at Berlin's European Film Market, where it was one of the hottest titles in the presales market.

But they still weren't home free. With crews arriving in Montreal in 2012, the money ran out when a completion bond fell through. "It was messy, it was bad," says Twohy. "We basically got kicked out of town." Diesel then personally advanced funds until bank loans were secured and the filmmakers could return to Montreal, where they shot for 48 days on a budget in the $35 million to $40 million range. Somewhat ironically, Universal, which had unloaded the character, then took an equity position in the film and agreed to distribute, allowing Diesel to resurrect his Riddick.

Cool Black's Mad Commentary: "Instead of continuing in the extravagant vein of the second film, they returned to basics" To me that was perfect. I liked the second film, but though such extravagances was unnecessary. I liked the "basic Riddick" against the world, not the whole mythology they tried to build.

Check out Vin Diesel's FIRST film on our parent blog 'Nother Brother Entertainment here

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Spike Lee Goes Online to Raise Money For Next Film

Spike Lee Launches $1.25 Million Kickstarter Campaign for Next Film

by Rebecca Ford, The Hollywood Reporter
July 22, 2013

The director follows in the footsteps of Zach Braff to crowdsource is upcoming project about people's addiction to blood.

Spike Lee is turning to Kickstarter to help him fund his next film.

The Red Hook Summer director has launched a campaign asking people to help him raise $1.25 million dollars for his next film, which will be about people's addiction to blood. "A lot of sex in it too," adds Lee in a video on the site.

Lee, whose next film will be the remake of Oldboy, starts out his video greeting mentioning the recent success that film production has had through Kickstarter, including the Veronica Mars movie and Zach Braff's upcoming pic Wish I Was Here.

"Filmmaking is what I do, filmmaking is what I love. You guys, help me keep it going because this is a mother f---ing tough business," says Lee, who adds that he won't be taking a fee for the project.

For those who contribute $5, Lee will provide a Tweet of thanks and project updates. The incentives go up from there, ranging from an autographed DVD to a phone call from Lee and -- for a contribution of $10,000 -- dinner and a New York Knicks game with Lee.

"With the current climate in The Hollywood Studio System it's not an encouraging look for Independent Filmmakers," Lee states in the note on his Kickstarter page. "I'm not hating, just stating the facts. Super Heroes, Comic Books, 3D Special EFX, Blowing up the Planet Nine Times and Fly through the Air while Transforming is not my Thang."

Lee's campaign runs for 30 days, until Aug. 21.

Spike Lee Reaches $1.25 Million Kickstarter Goal
August 18, 2013, The Hollywood Reporter Staff

Spike Lee has reached his Kickstarter goal of $1.25 million. His campaign crossed the finish line on Friday, August 16, 2013.

Lee, who launched his campaign on July 21, had 30 days to reach his fundraising goal so that he could make his next film, which he says will be about people's addiction to blood.

He hit the $1 million mark with about one week left in his campaign.

Lee, whose next film will be a remake of Oldboy, included a video greeting on Kickstarter that explained his inspiration to start the campaign were the success stories of the Veronica Mars movie and Zach Braff's upcoming pic Wish I Was Here on the fundraising platform.

"Filmmaking is what I do, filmmaking is what I love. You guys, help me keep it going because this is a motherf---ing tough business," says Lee, who adds that he won't be taking a fee for the project.

For those who contributed $5, Lee provides a Tweet of thanks and project updates. The incentives go up from there, ranging from an autographed DVD to a phone call from Lee and -- for a contribution of $10,000 -- a day on set and in the edit bay with Lee.

Lee described the project as about "human beings who are addicted to Blood. Funny, Sexy and Bloody. A new kind of love story (and not a remake of Blacula)."

After the campaign was launched, some people criticized the established director for eclipsing attempts by younger aspiring filmmakers to crowdfund their films. Lee defended his actions in a video.

"I understand why people might think that, but that's not the case at all," he said. "I'm bringing people to Kickstarter who've never even heard of Kickstarter," particularly "a lot of people of color."

August 21, 2013
The campaign offically ended on August 21, 2013 at 12:15PM and as of that time the offical amount rasied was $1,418,910.

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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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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:

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Emperor Jones — Cool Black Review


Directed byDudley Murphy
Produced byGifford Cochran
John Krimsky
Written byEugene O'Neill (play)
DuBose Heyward (screenplay)

StarringPaul Robeson
Dudley Digges
Frank H. Wilson
Fredi Washington
Ruby Elzy
CinematographyErnest Haller
Editing byGrant Whytock
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date(s)September 29, 1933
Unscrupulously ambitious Brutus Jones escapes from jail after killing a guard 
and through bluff and bravado finds himself the emperor of a Caribbean island. 

Cool Black Review
I’ve always wanted to see a Paul Robeson movie and the passage below from the book Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films by Donald Bogle provided the impetus.

Now as you can see the plot sounds gotdamn ridiculous. I was like wow, what a whirlwind of a plot and yes all of that happened.

The 1933 film itself is of course dated, but it had an audacious performance by Paul Robeson who of course sings several songs in the film. The acting was big and broad, but that was the style of the day. If you’re a fan of the old pictures this one was a decent one and you get a chance to see a pioneering performer. Without Robeson there would be no great African American performers of today. 

Cool Black Mad Commentary
Wikipedia states:
 A stint on the chain gang allows the film its first opportunity to show Robeson without his shirt on, an exposure of male nudity unusual for 1933 and certainly for a black actor.
I too was surprised at this. That was only the first of many opportunities Robeson bared his chest.  As explained in the Bogle book and from my lifetime of watching film, the black male is usually “neutered” on film. The black male is never as “naked” as his white counterparts, but here in the 1930s was this big, black man shirtless. Applause to all that were involved in putting this film out for I know it couldn’t have been easy. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Oprah Gives Huge Donation to Smithsonian Museum of Black History

Winfrey Gives $12 Million to New Smithsonian Museum of Black History and Culture

Oprah Winfrey is giving $12 million to help build the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, the museum announced on Tuesday.
Due to open in late 2015, the planned $500 million museum is being constructed on a five-acre site next to the Washington Monument on the National Mall.
In recognition of Ms. Winfrey’s gift, the museum’s 350-seat theater, one of the building’s largest spaces, is to be named the Oprah Winfrey Theater.
“The theater’s programs will enable audiences to gain a broader understanding of how African American history and culture shape and enrich the country and the world,” the Smithsonian said in a statement. It said the “theater will be a forum in the nation’s capital for performers, artists, educators, scholars, authors, musicians, filmmakers and opinion leaders.”
“This gift helps us get to the finishing line in terms of construction,” said Lonnie G. Bunch III, the museum’s director, in an interview. “Oprah has also given her imprimatur and that helps with fund-raising and visibility.”
So far the museum has raised $335 million toward the $500 million cost of design, construction and exhibitions, including $145 million from private sources, he said.
Other large donors include the Gates Foundation and the Lilly Endowment, which have each given $10 million.
Mr. Bunch said the building, now under construction and designed by the team of Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup to evoke the art of an ancient West African kingdom — should be finished in one and a half to two years. “We are on track and on budget,” he said. Despite cutbacks in Washington, he said, congressional financing had been forthcoming. “We are grateful. We have done well.”
Together with $1 million she gave in 2007, Ms. Winfrey’s latest gift means she is now the single largest donor to date, the museum said. She has been a member of the museum’s advisory council since 2004; other council members include Richard D. Parsons, former chairman of Citigroup, and Laura W. Bush.
“By investing in this museum, I want to help ensure that we both honor and preserve our culture and history, so that the stories of who we are will live on for generations to come,” Ms. Winfrey said in the official statement.
The museum was established as a Smithsonian museum by an act of Congress in 2003.