Trailer of the Day : Mark Amin’s EMPEROR (2020) and great Black History Month and All Year Long DVD and Blu-Ray Pickups!

Dayo Okeniyi in Emperor (2020)

This trailer came out of nowhere, but I loved it.

I’m not crazy about the poster tag-line, a ‘true legend’, while many true things with time become the stuff of legend, and many legends are stories that have outlived and outlasted the crumbling and burying into dust of all things, even concrete evidence, the putting together of those two words… ‘true legend’ , if not exactly an oxymoron, is just slightly inept marketing. You want to put those two together, try this… ‘in a time of imposed truths, he became in his own lifetime… a galvanizing legend’ .

Took me two seconds to come up with that, and I think it shows more thought than what their marketing department did. Call me guys if you need to fire them and get a better marketing presence, we’ll talk. 🙂 .

But that aside, a very good poster and a GREAT Trailer! If the movie lives up to it, it will be a blast.

As someone who just picked up the 2 season set of UNDERGROUND (almost sold out, so you may want to pick it up while you can, use the attached link) and who is a huge fan of the best in Pan African cinema such as SANKOFA, DARESALAM, HYENAS, GENESIS, I AM CUBA, CAMP DE THIAROYE  (also available courtesy of the attached links) this film definitely goes on my must check out list. Probably along with the WITCH:SUBVERSION one of the best trailers for the Month of February.

 

UNDERGROUND 2 season DVD

SANKOFA – arguably one of the finest, and both savage and beautiful films made, of a true Holocaust. Haile Gerima’s masterpiece. and the fact that this film is out of print, and does not have a Criterion or similar high-scale Blu-ray or DVD release, is only proof that we have a long way yet to go. Get a copy, you will thank me later.

Sankofa

 

 

Daresalam

DARESALAM – This is simply put, cinema at its finest. Get your copy, while you can.

 

I AM CUBAFor years this film was not available in the west, and then when I finally saw it, I think at a film festival, yeas ago, the camera work, in a time way before CGI, blew my mind. As a fan of David Lean, and Hitchcock and Welles and Fritz Lang, geniuses with the camera, this film was like a generational evolution. In an age before Steadicam adoption, the shots were absolutely mind blowing. When it finally was released on a quality DVD boxset, I rushed out and picked it up, and I told all of you to pick it up. For those new to this blog, back in the day, those who listened to me picked it up for $40. It is decidedly more than that, but still worth picking up, if you have the funds. A Masterpiece.

*************************

 

Quick rant, feel free to bypass this. 🙂

Here’s a tip you should know. Quality  non-hollywood  films about and by people of color, especially politically provocative films, have a tendency of not staying in print. And either dry up entirely on the secondary market, or explode in price before disappearing into private collections rarely to see the light of day.

I am never in a rush to pick up KNIVES OUT or 1917 or AVENGERS ENDGAME, because that is going to be there for decades to come. But when I hear about a THE GREAT WAR or EMPEROR or a DARESALAM or a BROTHER JOHN on dvd or Blu-ray, I can not race fast enough to purchase these movies. Haile Gerima, who I had the pleasure to interview back in the day, understood the importance of retaining positive images, and words, and movies, and music. That is culture.

And when the ability to view or hear or see these sounds and images, is at the mercy and whims of multinationals… culture itself is held hostage. And the people who depend on the reflective power of culture, to help define the width and the breadth of their aspirations, are likewise diminished.

And particularly today when so many are weaned on streaming, physical media is ironically both scarcer and yet more important and arguably esteemed and sought after, than ever before.

Because those in the know, understand streaming giveth and streaming taketh away, based on the uninformed whims of the lynchmob. You want your favorite film, available to watch when you want, and in the cut of the film you remember, there is no replacement for physical media. There just is not.

Here endeth the soap-box interlude. 🙂

You can take it, or you can leave it alone. 🙂
Either way, be well.

 

 

 

News you can Use : Intriguing News from Around the Web!

Facebook said earlier last week that it has no issues with allowing lying ads or nazi publishers on its platform

Why anyone continues to use facebook, after repeated abuse of the public’s rights and reason, remains beyond me.

 

Sharp 80% rise in liver cancer deaths in UK

 

50 great tracks for November from Dua Lipa, Destroyer, Selena Gomez and more

 

ACLU sues feds to get information about facial-recognition programs

And not just the municipal/’public’ cameras. Yes your smart phone,  WE, Xbox, Ring and wifi security cams, VR headset, all that stuff you are using for fun or your security, is placing all that data of your face, body, and your surroundings in huge databases, that someone that is not you, gets to sift thru and use. Welcome to MINORITY REPORT. :). 

 

SECURITY Breaches at Network Solutions, Register.com, and Web.com

 

Trump Is in Denial About Getting Booed Again, This Time at a UFC Fight

Also not accepting reality? Fox & Friends.

 

Arrogant Stupidity and prideful ignorance, is the enemy of reason.

 

DNS over HTTPS Will Give You Back Privacy that Big ISPs Fought to Take Away

PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID and Walks across Hell

BILLY: You know, I believe ole Pat has lost his sand.

DEPUTY BELL: You ought not to talk about him that way. You and him used to be pretty close.

BILLY: He ain’t the same man… He signed himself over to Chisum and every other goddamned landowner that’s trying to put a fence around this country. Hell that’s what you been doing, ain’t it, Bell? Selling us out and getting fat.

Which version of PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID should you see?

You didn’t know there were multiple versions? Unfortunately there are.

This is why I dislike multiple versions of a film. A film is a touchstone to a culture, it’s one of those key moments where you could say ‘I saw Star Wars’, and all of you can agree what the movie was, and what scenes you loved. You can have a conversation based on a shared cultural memory, a shared moment that in the crosstalk, connects us across time and across class or ethnicity or gender. That’s the very core of culture, these communal touchstones that bind us. That bind us all.

“Billy they don’t like you to be so free.”

And multiple versions of a film take away from us having this easy cultural shorthand with each other. Because the films and the moments that should bind us may not be there, depending on the version of the film we saw.

PAT GARRET AND BILLY THE KID unfortunately is like that. Depending on which version you see will determine if you walk away thinking it’s a masterpiece or overrated, bordering on inane.

There’s the TURNER MOVIES 1988 cut that finally restored the movie to its full length, and then there is the inexplicable 2005 version.

Avoid watching the 2005 version first, as your introduction to the movie, as it is… in ways deep and decisive, a betrayal of what the film is (If you listen to the commentary on the 1998 version, by ‘experts’ on Peckinpah that I typically find interesting, you hear the art by committee, art by consensus, ‘back seat’ driving and editing that leads to the butchered 2005 version. People who confuse being fans of a creative person, with being able to create in that person’s name. And as the 2005 version shows, that’s just not the case). Let’s just take the opening scene as an example, where, if you lose the power of that… you might as well just turn the movie off.


Jailer: Repent you son of a bitch.

Billy: Sweet Jesus I repent.

Jailer: Not till you taste the fear of the lord! I’ll show you! I’ll take you for a walk across hell on a spider web.

—(This is one of the great iconic lines of the film, of any film, and the actor (not the writer) came up with it, similar to how Rutger Hauer added the best line in BLADE RUNNER, the monologue about ‘tears in rain’. And the above line, “A walk across hell on a spider web” is completely cut out of the 2005 edit. Whoever the moron or morons are who are responsible for the 2005 version they should never work in film… ever. In fact I would sign off on a good stoning! 🙂 It’s one of multiple lines they either change, or yank out of the film. Unbelievable that someone could think they were doing anything but butchering the film by making these changes. Amazing.)

The 2005 version cuts the heart out of that first scene. The risqué joke that Billy and Pat share, removing some of the pauses and freeze frames, and shortening the conversation, and cutting out the pivotal final exchange of:

“he’s my friend”
“he aint no more”
“I reckon”

That exchange, the moments between those lines, and Billy’s quiet acknowledgment that times may indeed… have changed, is essential to the next scene and the rest of the movie.

It’s like they want to rush the movie, and that flies against the very heart of the film. Allegories and myths should not be rushed.

It’s a film about the pauses, what is not said between characters, it’s about a jail-break staged unlike any jail-break in any film, ever. Where it’s not about the jail break, it’s about a town, and a time, and a song, and a held moment of myth. It’s about the history that these two… once friends, share. That story is told in much that the 2005 version cuts out.

It’s a film that lives in the pauses.

“She was laughing like the devil when I caught her, but she was smiling when I left her.”

PAT GARRET AND BILLY THE KID is, in the purest sense of the word an existential movie, a movie (not a biography, Peckinpah is not interested, and neither are we, in the reality of these men, but in the mythology, in the romance) that is not about rushing to the next scene, but a movie that in the pauses and in the held shots says something about existence; and the 2005 edit of the film, doesn’t want to give it the time… to exist.

I’m saying avoid the 2005 edit, and stick to the 1988 Turner version with all those scenes still there (Both versions are available in the same box set available here, just make sure to watch the 1988 version).

To see any other version of PAT GARRET AND BILLY THE KID is not to see it at all.


BILLY: To ole Pat. Sherrif Pat Garrett, sold out to the Santa Fe Ring. How does it feel?

PAT: It feels like… times have changed.

BILLY: Times maybe, not me.

The Cinema of Hollywood— Black Faces, White Messages

I, as a rule, avoid stupid people.

Because they are vexations of the spirit, and in the truest sense of the word… wastes of time.

But every so often, I feel that a positive discussion can be distilled, or needs to be made, out of one person’s negative.

Someone posted on line for “flicks where there are NO BLACK PEOPLE?”

On the surface it’s the kind of ignorant discourse that has become common place in the increasingly unmoderated world of YOUTUBE and CRAIGSLIST and IMDB and insert other online site here. Increasingly companies shirk their responsibilty to moderate discourse under the guise of liberty, when in truth it’s about being a haven for hate, confusion, and disconnect, and the antithesis of communication. It’s about sites creating an uncivil experience.

But I thought such moronic statements, occasionally warrant an answer, not for the moron who posted it, but for those stumbling honestly on it, and who may take away only the fool’s foolishness, I wanted to give the other side of the story.

or

One moronic topic deserves another.

or

We need more films with characters and directors of color, and preferably more than the stupid tokenism prevalent in “Hollywood” films. Cause trust me I hate the token, shoe-horned in, poorly written single Black character in a film otherwise filled with pale faces more than anything. I mean what was that damn RESIDENT EVIL movie. Don’t bring the Black character in the film or show… just to be the sum of your stereotypes.

I mean I really fucking hate that.

And I hate the Black actors who are in the films to do nothing more than reinforce white messages. Be walking stereotypes. It’s one of the reasons I hated SIN CITY (beyond it being just a god-awful movie) or the otherwise excellent DAY AND NIGHT that was ruined for me in the last 5 minutes with an inexplicable introduction of one of the most annoying characters in all cinema.

So the search should be for movies without poorly written Black characters. And it’s a search, that I back up with dollars. As a rule films with strong characters of color, multiple characters of color, smartly written, get my attention and my dollars. And those without… do not.

One of the reasons HANCOCK (that was marketed to be a failure) was one of the highest grossing movies of its year. Making over 300 million, just shy of IRON MAN, and the blockbuster that was DARK KNIGHT, was the same reason most critics hated it, and most people of color loved it, it was a film with an unconventional 2nd half where the character of color, transcended the box that hollywood designs for them… of crook, fool, or comedy relief, and got to be a hero, while also being a quite brilliant and forlorn love story.

That’s the cinema, I like paying for. And it’s the cinema I want to see more of. The cinema… of transcending. And more than that it’s a cinema, our youth desperately needs more of.

We do not rise above our dreams. And mass media, movies, music, tv, teaches youths of color, to dream very poorly indeed. To be sidekicks in their own lives at best.

And it’s the reason I LOVE movies like CITY OF GOD (or the equally brilliant TV series CITY OF MEN), CAPUCCINO, And we need more of them.

Thing is there are brilliant films and filmmakers (SOUNDS OF SAND, LIFTED, EL BENNY, THE DISCIPLE, THE ASSASSIN, ALGENY, DARSALAM, BLACK DYNAMITE etc), but they don’t get picked up for distribution, and our cinemas instead get flooded with the 8 million copies of moronic comedies, or the same old, tired, boring, and ultimately eurocentric tripe.

And we are all… diminished, by the lack of diversity and dumbing down of American culture. Our cinema and our songs. There’s a reason films and music are stuck in the 80s, regurgitating and recycling it. It’s because the new has always come from the ground up. The culture of those on top, always dependent on the culture of those on the bottom. You get no country music, no rock and roll, without negro spirituals, and blues, and jazz.

And today our inner city youth our devoid (devoided) of culture. And mainstream America has nothing to copy, so we get stuck in this loop, of listening to the good old days, or remaking the good old movies.

We become a cannibal nation, eating its own tale.

Because people in positions to give us the new, are afraid. And they crush innovations, new voices and new dreams… not realizing, that ultimately the dreams they crush, of that young filmmaker or actor or musician of color… is everyone’s dreams. They have always been, these people of color, the engines of our tomorrow.

All our tomorrows.

So the search must ever be, for more visions, and more visionaries… of color.