Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Film Recap

Sheesh, I am so glad this year is over. While mentally and emotionally exhausting, I am fortunate to transition into a new year a much wiser person, and I look back on a year I was able to make meaningful connections and fully come to terms with the relationship I have with films as not just a fleeting hobby, but a source of great purposeful expression.

I'm not very big on lists because they often fail to encompass an experience, a theme that is vast and (yes) complicated and deserves thorough consideration. With film, I struggle with keeping things succinct. But I couldn't pass up a chance on talking about some of the stories that sparked vitriol, praise, and something in between. Instead of over thinking this effort, I worked from my gut, immersed in the moment on how I feel about some of this year's offers. Below, I think I struck a nice balance.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Cult Cinema | Frogs (1972)

Bella Garrington
In 1972, The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment met in Stockholm that June to develop a documented ideology that "considered the need for a common outlook and for common principles to inspire and guide the peoples of the world in the preservation and enhancement of the human environment". This declaration was a valiant attempt at offering ideas for balance between the human need to explore, invent, and prosper as well as letting our natural environment thrive. It goes without saying that now, more than forty years later, balance is a laughable if not depressing concept. If the Native American with a tear wasn't enough, a fringe film would attempt to terrify audiences into reverence for nature.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cult Cinema | Night Of The Cobra Woman (1972)

For those paying attention on Twitter, my love for actress/Black SF Superwoman Marlene Clark is paramount to the mission of this space. Unafraid, unashamed, Clark made her mark in genre film beginning with her feature role as Lena Aruza in 1972's Night Of The Cobra Woman after uncredited and guest spots in film and television from Mightnight Cowboy to the Bill Cosby Show.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Cult Cinema | American International Pictures

Teenagers are a huge market for those in the entertainment business: not yet tainted by the thirst for nostalgia, truly disposable income, easily enticed by images that please the five senses. It is safe to argue that the United States in the 1950s began to see a generation of teenagers come to symbolize a style and culture unlike any other generation prior. This was the very genesis of what we've broken into generations (boomers, gen x-er's, millenials), each so vastly unique and highly intricate into creating a world history that has proven will have a lasting impact until the end of time. With such a broad stroke are the fine details that are a part of what creates important milestones. The film business itself is hardly an exception.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Horror Swirling: Film Pairings

Thoughtful commentary on interracial romance in horror films I'm going to strongly guess is non-existent. However, the serendipity of Jamie Broadnax, creator of the site Black Girl Nerds brought a discussion of it here back in January. Considering her focus on the "Lovers Vow" segment of Tales From The Darkside: The Movie (1990), it was the ethereal Rae Dawn Chong's Carola that captured both myself and Jamie's fascination in conjunction with her relationship to James Remar's Preston. A Black woman and a white guy. I first saw this movie when I was about 8 or 9 and at that point, never saw a pairing quite like that before. True story.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Black Romance in Horror: Bones (2001)

Why wasn't Bones (2001) a franchise? With a gnarly conclusion and a palatable story, the potential for another horror icon to root for was certainly in the realm of possibility. The likelihood of  declining quality would be inevitable but hey, the 21st century needs an iconic Black villain in horror. The 20th gave us Candyman. We're long overdue.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

#SciFiSunday: Black Women & 2014's Sci-Fi Film Colorism

Zoe Kravitz as Tris
Brown skinned girls get snubbed again on the big screen.

2014 was a big year for books-to-movie releases. The movie Divergent was one of them. In this sci-fi dystopian based story, the main character Tris becomes good friends with Christina, a person of color. The book described her as, “tall, with dark brown skin and short hair.” However, in the movie we see Zoe Kravitz, a beautiful girl of color, but has a lighter complexion than the book describes.

The psychological thriller, Gone Girl was also released in 2014. In the book, the the main character’s lawyer was a white man married to a black woman. The movie completely switched around those characters making the lawyer a black man and left out anything about his wife.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Quote Of The Day: Actress Pam Grier

"I love doing horror films,” she says, “but there just aren’t that many good ones around. Some of my best experiences were doing [sci-fi films like] Mars Attacks and Escape from L.A., but as far as horror goes, there’s not that many. The problem is, how do you keep scarin’ people when they see real-life scarin’, ya know? They’ve run the Scream series into the ground. I mean, you can only scream so many times and then, what’s up? Freddy Krueger?

-Pam Grier discussing why it took 7 years to make another horror film on the set of Bones in 2001 (originally found in an October 2001 issue of Fangoria)


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Women Of Color in Horror: The Trailer Mixtape

I'm always excited to discover new and exciting genre work by women of color, but it isn't always easy. I've been fortunate to be in the company of those with similar interests who have shared some filmmakers and their work with me. Women of color continue to surprise me with their imaginations by creating some of the most remarkable shorts I've seen. Below are some recent trailer favorites and finds.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

5 Questions With Filmmaker R. Shanea Williams

New York based "filmmaker, writer, poet, artist" R. Shanea Williams, a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of Arts with a Masters degree in Dramatic Writing has passion for screenwriting and directing with a motivation to create "a complex African -American female protagonist in a story that we have yet to see on screen."

Her film short Contamination is about "a woman imprisoned in her own home wrestling with severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder brought on by paralyzing germaphobia" starring Cherise Boothe (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Good Wife) as Jade. Contamination has been highlighted on popular sites like Shadow and ActBlack Girl Nerds and shows no sign of slowing down in press with its heavy rotation in the festival circuit in spaces such as the BronzeLens Film Festival in Atlanta and an appearance at the Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival.

Ms. Williams was more than happy to share some of her thoughts with us for our 5 Questions series on Black female protagonists in genre film, how to draw inspiration from the personal and create a cinematic work of art that defines the term, unique.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

On Our Terms: A Black [Women's] Horror Film Aesthetic

Black Aesthetics. It was a class I took as an undergraduate many years ago. What defined the term for the purposes of the course began with how Africans from thousands of years ago developed a culture of leisure, creation for pleasure in what is seen. The word aesthetic by its very meaning is "concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty" and more openly, "a set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement". Our numerous discussions naturally shifted to the present and understanding of what encompasses Black aesthetics today on our terms. Specifically an African American aesthetic.

Ganja & Hess (1973) directed by Bill Gunn

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