Tag Archives: hollywood

What Tami Said can save you $8: My review of “Sex and the City 2″

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

Sex and the City 2

[Maybe there are spoilers in this review. I don’t think so. Frankly, I think there is nothing I could possibly do to make the shitfest that is Sex and the City 2 worse.]

Allow me to save you $8. Here is the plot of Sex and the City 2: Four privileged white women take a break from relentlessly moaning about their privileged lives to go on an Orientalist fantasy excursion to Abu Dhabi, where they are each assigned a brown servant to wait on them as they maraud through the country, dressed like assholes, exoticizing people, mocking culture, flouting religious custom, rubbing yams on their bodies and, on occasion, because they are our heroines, “saving” the natives with their American liberation and largess.

SATC was always only about a certain type of woman, despite media attempts to make Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte into everywomen. The series presented a fictionalized view of white, wealthy, female Manhattanites. But the friendships between the protagonists felt universal. And as cartoonish as the individual characters could be, I saw pieces of them in the women around me, if not in myself. When the show first debuted, I was single in the city myself:

When “Sex” debuted in 1998, I was single and 20-something in a big city and it was fun to watch single, carefree women, who lived in a bigger city with bigger apartments, cooler jobs, more money, better shoes and more sex with hotter guys. It was fun fantasy. Read more…

I got older. And so have the characters in SATC, but it occurs to me that the franchise’s male creators aren’t quite sure what to do with women over 40. And so they have taken four flawed but generally likable women and made them repugnant. Continue reading

From Paris With Love…and some hilarious racism!

By Deputy Editor Thea Lim

Is it a new trend in trailers to highlight comic genius and audacity, by showing just a little bit of racism? First we had the Up in the Air trailer, and now this:

From Paris With Love stars John Travolta (apparently in a reprise of his Face/Off role, plus a keffiyeh) as Charlie Wax, and the adorable little fellow from Bend it Like Beckham as his sidekick. Midway through the trailer, our two leads find themselves in a classic Chinatown fight scene. I blanch at the sight of Charlie Wax using the East Asian waiter’s “oriental” uniform to choke him, and some other shots of things emblazoned with dragons and a Ming vase…

But it’s nothing to write about. That bad feeling in the pit of my stomach is just your regular, knee-jerk (and hey, maybe not-so-justifiable) response to seeing one of my own get pulped by a member of the dominant culture.

And then my most paranoid suspicions are confirmed at 1:05, when Wax’s sidekick asks him in the middle of the Chinatown fight scene

How many more of them do you think there are?

referring to the malevolent employees of the Chinese restaurant.

Wax shrugs, there’s a cut to a women in a cheongsam, and then Wax says

My sense is…about a billion?

Classy.

Picture This: Chromatic Comics Remixes Your Fandoms

by special correspondent Arturo R. García

Chromatic 1

My friends at Fantastic Fangirls turned me on to the Chromatic Comics meme that went around LiveJournal, Dreamwidth and similar blog sites. Simply put: a number of bloggers re-cast various fandoms with all-POC casts. Below are a few notable examples with links attached.

From Bossymarmalade’s Chromatic Marvel, you saw Vanessa Williams as Emma Frost up top. Add to that:

Diego Luna as Gambit
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John Cho as Multiple Man
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From Entwasian’s Chromatic Buffy:

Percy Daggs III as Xander Harris
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Continue reading

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

by Guest Contributor Jehanzeb Dar, originally published at Muslim Reverie

If you’re having trouble trying to figure out what’s wrong with this newly revealed poster for Disney’s upcoming film, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” it may help if I pointed out that the title character is played by Jake Gyllenhaal. In other words, the prince of Persia is not played by a Persian/Iranian. Big surprise, huh?

Why is this a big deal? Well, considering that negative perceptions of Middle-Easterners and/or Muslims have increased since 9/11 (and haven’t gotten better according to statistics and civil rights incidents reported by CAIR), a relatively anticipated film like “Prince of Persia” would seem like the perfect opportunity to help break stereotypes and misconceptions about Middle-Easterners. The film is based on a very popular video game of the same title, which allows you to play the role of a Persian prince who has to save his kingdom (or world) from a time-altered reality. I remember playing the game when it was released in 2003 and even though it’s filled with Orientalist stereotypes, I always felt the story and character depictions could be tweaked into a mainstream film with serious potential (and by that, I mean a film with an actual story, real character development, and appreciation for the culture it intends to represent).

Unfortunately, Jake Gyllenhaal isn’t the only White actor playing a Middle-Eastern character. Gemma Arterton, who plays Tamina, the film’s version of Farah, an Indian character from the video game, is also White. Ben Kingsley is also cast as a Persian character, and while he is of half-Indian descent, many Iranians recall how poorly he played an Iranian father in “House of Sand and Fog.” The best part (sarcasm) is that Alfred Molina will play a Persian again after his abusive and oppressive Iranian husband role in the 1991 propaganda film, “Not Without My Daughter”! As a user on IMDB commented: “Tamina = Indian / Gemma Arterton= White; What the hell is going on?”

Continue reading

More White Men Behaving Badly: A ‘Brain-On’ Look At The Hangover

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

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For perspective’s sake, let me start with a confession: Tropic Thunder made me laugh aloud several times, even after the misgivings I had about Kirk Lazarus. The Alpa Chino twist in the village was brilliant, even if the villagers were written like something out of an Oliver Stone wet dream. And I regularly laugh as much as I grimace at South Park and Family Guy, neither of which is exactly friendly to … well, anybody. So I’m not opposed to “lowbrow” humor.

What I cannot abide is brainless humor. And so, when I tell you that The Hangover is celluloid excrement, I don’t say it lightly. I refuse to believe that it’s “just me.” But I’m telling you, R readers: this isn’t a comedy, or even a film. I’m now halfway convinced it’s proof those cheeky Hulu “alien plot” commercials are really taunting messages of truth from our secret alien overlords. Sure, you might say, “just turn your brain off, it’s a movie,” but don’t you need a working brain to enjoy any movie?

SPOILERS AHOY!

Ostensibly a Las Vegas travel ad masquerading as a bro-mantic comedy, the root of the problem is one common to a lot of modern comedies: we’re dealing not with characters, but anthropomorphic third-rate comedic tropes – Phil the Player (Bradley Cooper), Alan the Weirdo (Zack Galifanakis) and Stuart the Wuss (Ed Helms). Coding them as such is believable when you start a film, but there’s barely a hint of personal development, let alone the “growing up” moments that usually permeate these types of films. Continue reading

Based on a True Story…Again?

By Guest Contributor slb, originally published at PostBourgie

mlkWe’ve made no secret of our belief that Hollywood is producing just a few too many paint-by-numbers Black biopics, and this week’s announcement of a whopping four black-themed biopics was just a case in point. According to Rotten Tomatoes’ Weekly Ketchup, all systems are go for an “official” biographical drama on Martin Luther King Jr., with Steven Spielberg at the helm; Will and Jada’s Overbrook Entertainment (in concert with Sony Pictures) has acquired the rights to John Keller’s life story (an ex-Marine who oversaw the rescue of 244 fellow Katrina victims); and Denzel is mulling his third directorial project, a little pet project called Brother in Arms, about “the only tank unit in the European theater of World War II that was manned by all African Americans”–based on a book co-authored by Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

We should note that the latter project has no shooting date–and the Weekly Ketchup writers slyly suggest that, perhaps, this is because there’s already a black WWII flick in the works—a Tuskegee Airmen project, currently filming in Europe.

Here’s the thing: we love heralding Black accomplishments as much as the next guy–and far be it from us to stand in the way of Our Own Stories Being Told. But aren’t most of these films rather indistinguishable from one another? If you’ve seen Remember the Titans, you’ve seen Glory Road. If you’ve seen Ray, you seen Cadillac Records (or parts of it, anyway). If you’ve seen The Rosa Parks story, you’ve seen Boycott. If you’ve seen Ali, you’ve seen… Will Smith in one too many of these vanity projects.***

It isn’t that we don’t endorse Black films being greenlighted; we do. It isn’t that we don’t love our history; we do. It’s that biopics, as a genre, are largely rote oversimplifications of incredibly complex lives. And no matter how nuanced an actor’s performance (or, as in the case of Denzel as Melvin Tolson, how phoned in), the formulaic storytelling impedes any real understanding of the person’s struggles and, more importantly, the accomplishment(s) that warranted a film in the first place. They all sort of bleed together untill you’re like, “You remember that flick where Cuba Gooding’s in the submarine and he’s a cook who manned a gatling gun?”

The best way to know your history is to research it for yourself. All the swelling music and single-teared male stars in the world aren’t going to provide you comprehensive—or even accurate—knowledge of actual events. So these “First Black ___ to Do _____” biopics work best when you go into them with your facts about the film’s subject straight. That way, you’re just watching for entertainment value and voluntary emotional manipulation.

All that said, we have to admit, we’re more than a little bit amped about Josh Brolin’s genius plan to both produce and star in a John Brown biopic. You can never have enough films about bloody, if ill-fated slave revolts.

Blood: The Last Vampire U.S Trailer

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

I know I’ve previously mentioned the live-action Blood: The Last Vampire adaptation before, but I’ve neglected to mention the trailer, which has been making the rounds for a while. The movie, based on Hiroyuki Kitakubo 2000 cult hit anime of the same name, marks South Korean actress Jeon Ji-Hyun’s English-language debut.

Jeon, who has apparently changed her name to Gianna Jun for the leap over the Hollywood, stars as Saya, a half-human, half-vampire samurai who is part of a covert government agency that hunts and destroys demons. In post-WWII Japan, she is inserted in an American military school to discover which one of her classmates is a demon in disguise.

Yay, for demon-hunting half-vampires. While I was a fan of the original animated movie, and enjoy vampire asskicking as much as the next guy, I am skeptical about whether this can stand out amongst the Buffy/Blade/Underworld narratives out there. And can Ms. Jun prove her chops as an English-speaking star? I guess we’re going to find out. The movie is set to open in theaters sometime this summer.

Notes from AFF’s Diversity On Screen panel

by Guest Contributor jbrotherlove, originally published at jbrotherlove

I haven’t been a very good cinephile lately. And by “not very good” I mean I haven’t attended any films in this year’s Atlanta Film Festival. In addition to being very busy at work in the past few weeks, I attribute the oversight to a combination of procrastination, lack of Atlanta friends who are passionate about independent film (Boo!), and confusion over my AFF membership status (holla at a brother, Charles).

However, I did manage to get over to the newish Starbucks in Midtown Promenade (off Piedmont Park) to attend the festival’s Diversity On Screen panel, part of their Coffeehouse Conversations series. The panel was moderated by journalist and author Gil Robertson. Author Ronda Racha Penrice, Felicia Feaster (The Atlantan), Ryan Lee (Southern Voice), and Will Hong (TurnerAsia) rounded out the panel.

In general, the panel agreed that the state of diversity in film (race, sexual orientation, gender, age, etc.) is improving. But film lags far behind television and digital/internet in terms of portraying characters and stories with complexity (Hong). Continue reading