Thursday Movie Picks: Female Cinematographers

ThursdayMoviePicks

Given today’s THURSDAY MOVIE PICK‘s topic is on female cinematographers, I thought I’d reblog this post I did last November.

Check out my appreciation for the fabulous work of Charlotte Bruus Christensen, Rachel Morrison, Maryse Alberti, Mandy Walker, and Ellen Kuras

FlixChatter Film Blog

I’d been wanting to do this post for a while, but somehow haven’t got around to it. Well, thanks to last week’s Thursday Movie Picks on favorite cinematography, which I had actually missed, I thought I should make up for it this week.

The awesome topic came from Brittani who went with films highlighting female cinematographers on her post, so for this list I’m picking five female DPs whose work I admire, and it’s safe to say they’re some of the best DPs working today.

Before I get to that, I must say that perhaps more so than other key players in filmmaking like directors/writers/producers, DPs are still very much a man’s world. Based on WomenAndHollywood.com, of the top 300 films from 2016 to 2018, 97% were male and 3% were female were credited as the director of photography (DP) across the top live action films, which translates…

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Chadwick Boseman 1976-2020

Rest in Power and Love, Chadwick Boseman – a real life superhero

This weekend we lost a young but powerful figure of cinema… Chadwick Boseman, who died at the age of 43 after a four-year battle of colon cancer. I was in the midst of watching a movie on Friday night, specifically a miniseries, on Amazon Prime that I had been wanting to watch for ages. I usually left my phone away while watching a movie, but I somehow checked on it in between episodes, and was absolutely flabbergasted.

If you’re like me, most likely you had been totally blindsided by the fact that  Boseman had been sick all these years. The statement on his Twitter account read that he was was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016 and thus he filmed many movies during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.

Looking at his IMDb profile, there were no less than eight films that he must have filmed while he was undergoing treatment:

  1. Da 5 Bloods
  2. 21 Bridges
  3. Avengers: Endgame
  4. Avengers: Infinity War
  5. Black Panther
  6. Marshall
  7. Message from the King
  8. Captain America: Civil War

All the while he kept his condition and suffering privately, instead, Boseman chose to bless others with his talents… not just in his astounding performances, but also to his many, many fans. Such as this moment where he surprised many of his fans on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon:

I remember being moved to tears by his genuine gentleness and grace, and you could tell he really appreciated his fans and they knew that. Perhaps Boseman was excellent in portraying real-life heroes, Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, not only because he was a gifted actor, but also because he too, was a real-life hero.

Many film fans knew him as King T’Challa aka Black Panther, in the smash hit Marvel superhero movie. It was definitely one of my top 10 favorite MCU movies, as Black Panther was more than just a superhero movie… it became a phenomenon and statement of success for representation and diversity. It’s as if the #WakandaForever became a defiant force for the under-represented in Hollywood that people of color ought to have a voice and when they’re allowed to shine, the world will respond in kind. Yes, the film was a state of the art, competently made by Ryan Coogler & his team, and filled with terrific supporting actors… but it’s the power, grace and dignity of Boseman who lead the film that made us believe in T’Challa’s heroism, and what he stood for.

As Boseman was a private person, there were few known facts about him when he lived… and I really respect that. I read a bunch of articles in the past couple of days, simply trying to get a glimpse at who Boseman was, not just as an actor but as a human being… and many of the facts confirmed just what a hero he was in real life.

Here are seven lesser-known facts to me that I thought you might find interesting:

He fought to give An African Accent To T’Challa

Per this article, before filming began, Chadwick was presented with two options: keep his American accent or take on a British one.

Chadwick felt that either option implied that Wakanda had been colonized. He worked with a dialect coach to produce his accent in the film, which is based in the Xhosa language.

He received his Bachelors in directing

Per The Things website, initially, Boseman wasn’t going to become an actor. He wanted to become a writer and director instead. Even when he was at school, he wrote and staged a play. Then Boseman went on to study to Howard University and majored in directing there. After graduating, he moved to Brooklyn and began pursuing his career — writing and directing small off-Broadway plays. Boseman decided to take acting courses only to better understand the actors better. “I really only started acting because I wanted to know what the actors were doing, how to communicate with the actors.” 

He was a playwright

Per TheaterMania, Boseman wrote his first play in high school. Crossroads, which was performed by students, was written in response to the death of a classmate, a young man on his basketball team who was shot and killed.

More about his theatre roots from that article:

After graduating, Boseman taught acting to students in the Schomburg Junior Scholars Program, at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. He immersed himself in the hip-hop theater scene, working with Howard classmate Kamilah Forbes to create the play with music Rhyme Deferred, which toured the United States and appears in the Hip Hop Theatre Anthology The Fire This Time. He wrote and directed the play Hieroglyphic Graffiti, which was produced at Negro Playwright’s Theatre, Kuntu Repertory, the National Black Theatre Festival, and the Hip Hop Theatre Festival.

Boseman’s most well-known play is titled Deep Azure, which was commissioned and produced by the Congo Square Theatre Company. It earned him a 2006 Jeff Award nomination for Best New Play.

He did not have to audition for Black Panther

Due to his history of biopics and tremendous roles, Boseman didn’t even have to audition for Black Panther. After seeing the actor in Get On Up, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige knew that it was the man he wanted to see as King T’Challa. “I think it was 24 hours between saying his name in a creative story meeting and talking to his agent and getting on a phone with him and offering him the role of Black Panther, which he accepted,” Feige said,

It’s incredible given the fact that Boseman had just been acting in films for about five years prior to his Black Panther role. His big movie break came in 2012 (when he was already in his 30s) when he got the career-breaking role in 42 as Jackie Robinson. He was up against 25 actors for the role of the baseball great. According to this article,  it was rumored that Robinson’s widow was initially unhappy with the casting and had hoped that Denzel Washington would play the role. However, she was happy with the final result of the film and has since become friends with Boseman.

He was a Christian

I read in several articles that Boseman was raised a Christian and he still kept his faith. Per Christianity Today, Boseman grew up in the church, and it has been reported that his former pastor praised him for always being involved in serving at the church and helping others. Baptised and raised as a Christian, Boseman maintained his Christian faith through his development into Hollywood stardom.

In the video below in his tribute to Denzel Washington, he referenced a Bible verse of Ephesians 3:20, saying, “May God bless you exceedingly and abundantly more for what’s in store than He ever has before. God bless you.”

He owed a lot to Phylicia Rashad + Denzel Washington

Following graduation from Howard University, Boseman studied at the British American Dramatic Academy in Oxford, England. Thanks to his acting mentor, Phylicia Rashad (from the Cosby Show) that Denzel Washington ended up paying for his tuition, plus nine of his fellow Howard theater students, at Oxford University.

He was trained in Martial Arts

Per that TvOverMind article, Boseman was also trained in martial arts. This came in handy for his role as Black Panther and he was well prepared for the action scenes. However, he and other cast members had to attend a boot camp to fully prepare them for the physical aspects of their roles. The stunts in Black Panther’ were predominantly performed by Boseman and the cast members rather than by stunt professionals.


The Yasuke Movie

The hard-working actor had a lot on his plate and one of the films he had signed on to do was to play Yasuke, the first and only black Japanese Samurai.

Per Deadline, Yasuke was a native of Portuguese Mozambique who was brought to Japan as a slave to Jesuit missionaries. The first black man to set foot on Japanese soil, Yasuke’s arrival aroused the interest of Nobunaga, a ruthless warlord seeking to unite the fractured country under his banner. A complex relationship developed between the two men as Yasuke earned Nobunaga’s friendship, respect — and ultimately, the honor, swords and title of samurai.

Photo courtesy of thegedsection.com

This is what Boseman said about the role in that article written in May 2019:

“The legend of Yasuke is one of history’s best kept secrets, the only person of non-Asian origin to become a Samurai,” Boseman said. “That’s not just an action movie, that’s a cultural event, an exchange, and I am excited to be part of it.”

Oh how awesome would it be to see Boseman in this film… he’s so perfect for the role, and his martial arts training would’ve been put to great use. Alas…

It remains to be seen what would happen to this project. I sure hope it would still get made after Boseman is gone. One thing for sure though, I do NOT want to see Black Panther 2 get made without Boseman… I simply cannot imagine another actor for the part. I think Disney/Marvel should scrap the sequel idea, as it would be disrespectful to recast him and I don’t think it would’ve been successful anyway as fans would refuse to watch it.


I’m still trying to come to terms with Boseman’s untimely death… he’s gone far, far too soon. My heart goes out to his family and friends… and to his wife Taylor Simone Ledward whom he apparently married before he died. I pray the Lord would comfort them during this painful times.

In his relative short career, Boseman made such a huge impact – as a human being AND as an artist. I know he will be missed by many, me included… but for sure, his legacy shall live on.

THANK YOU, Chadwick Boseman… for everything you had done. May God rest his soul.

 

Happy 51st Birthday Paul Rudd! My favorite Ant-Man scenes in the MCU

Apparently today’s Paul Rudd‘s birthday! Can you believe it this guy is 51 years old!! He doesn’t look a day over 30. Like Keanu Reeves, there must be a secret fountain of youth these guys ought to tell us!

I was reading a bit about Paul Rudd, as I don’t really know much about him. Here are a few interesting facts about the New Jersey-born actor.

  • His parents were born in the United Kingdom, his father from Edgware and his mother from Surbiton, both in London.
  • When he was ten, Rudd’s family moved to Lenexa, Kansas. His family also spent three years living in Anaheim, California, because of his father’s occupation as a historical tour guide.
  • Rudd spent three months studying Jacobean drama at the British American Drama Academy based in Oxford, U.K.
  • He made his acting debut in 1992 with NBC’s drama series Sisters – (first time I saw Rudd was in Clueless)
  • In 2003, Rudd married Julie Yaeger and the couple has two children: a son, Jack Sullivan, and a daughter, Darby.
  • Rudd reveals fans still ask him about his Clueless days more than any other role.

*Thanks to Useless Daily, Facinate for the trivia info


Rudd’s definitely one of my favorite actors in the MCU. He’s just so perfect and fun to watch as Ant-Man. I enjoyed both films, though my favorite scenes of Ant-Man is actually in Captain America: Civil War

… especially this one when he first meeting–and geeking out over–Steve Rogers 😀 I literally always rewind THAT scene more than anything else in that movie!

I know you know lots of super people… so thinks for thanking of me…


… and that epic and hilarious airport battle scene w/ giant Ant-Man!!

“O..kay tiny dude is big now, he’s big now”


What’s YOUR favorite Paul Rudd role(s)?

TCFF 2019 Documentary Spotlight – ‘Seeing Is Believing: Women Direct’ + Interview with director Cady McClain

On its 10th anniversary, more than 60% of Twin Cities Film Fest’s 2019 program are driven by female filmmakers. It’s something I’m happy about of course, but I wish the general statistics about women in Hollywood is something to cheer about. As of right now, according to Women And Hollywood stats, women only make up for a mere 4% of directors.

So naturally I’m intrigued by documentaries that highlight women filmmakers. I featured the doc Be Natural about Alice Guy-Blaché (the Mother of Cinema). This time I had the privilege of chatting with Cady McClain, the director of Seeing Is Believing: Women Direct.

It’s a documentary film which emphasizes the opportunity for women to use their voice through media to change the social and political landscape and achieve full equality. Focusing on inspiring and uplifting young female storytellers through the mentorship and leadership of four diverse directors, Seeing is Believing: Women Direct opens the conversation up to ask “What is the broader role of storytelling in our society and how can women use filmed media as a unique opportunity to catalyze progress?”

The best documentaries are entertaining, insightful and fascinating. Well, this is one of those documentaries and then some. I love that there are clips from their projects along with the filmmakers’ interviews. I also adore the the stunning animation by Chilean artist Xaviera López that supports the themes of the doc.

I learned that Cady McClain is planning of turning this doc into a podcast series with female filmmakers and I really hope that would happen!


Check out the trailer:

Q&A with Director, Producer, Editor Cady McClain

1. What triggered you to make this film as your first feature? I read that it had started off as a 28 minute short, then an 58-minute version before this one (84 min) doc feature?

I actually started out with the idea of doing a feature. But there were two other women who wanted to make a similar feature and we each have our own vision. We all wanted to support each other but also wanted to have our own journey of going about it, which is kind of crazy but that’s how it turned out. So I didn’t want to compete by making another feature, so I thought I’ll make a series. So the short was supposed to be the first episode, the pilot. So I sent it to Soho Film Festival and they called me and said, ‘you should make it into a feature because they think it would be really competitive in their feature doc category.’

When a film festival called you, it was the encouragement I needed. I mean I never made a documentary before, I’ve never trained in documentary, but at least the short helped me understand what documentaries are. Plus I could build it from there, and the 84-minute film ended up winning the Audience Award at Soho International Film Festival which was amazing.

Then we also had a distributor come around who said, this isn’t long enough for iTunes (because it was under an hour). Now I have a little more understanding of how to make the doc feature I had wanted to make in the first place. So I went back and added more women [filmmakers] that I had wanted to but I hadn’t figured out how to fit them in. It’s like weaving a giant quilt to form a certain pattern, and you’re making the patterns as you go along.

2. Out of the filmmakers that were interviewed, I particularly love Lesli Linka Glatter, Li Lu and Sarah Gavron… I love their stories and the way they tell their stories. So how did you choose your subjects?



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A lot of it was happenstance. It was who I knew and who people I knew knew… you know, how certain people connect me to certain people. Suffragette [movie] happened while I was making this film, one of my friends who was a member of the DGA invited me to that screening and I was so blown away by it that I wrote to her agent. She said she was too busy touring for this film, but if you fly to London she’ll make time. So I flew to London to interview Sarah Gavron. I was also so inspired by the careers of the people I interviewed.

One was Joanna Kearns (best known for Growing Pains), who was an established actor before she became a director. Some people said it might be easier the fact that we started off as actors, but it’s still very hard to make that transition and to earn your place [as director]. And also with Lesli Linka Glatter, there is a lot of happenstance that comes in any one’s career. As she said in the film, if she hadn’t met that one man in the coffee shop in Japan, she wouldn’t have gone into directing. I learned that no career is a straight line. It’s helpful for me because intrinsically, you don’t just go to film school and then have a film career. It’s a lot to do with the people you’re in school with, the connections you made there, what’s being made now, what are you inspired to make, how you craft your forward movement, etc. Nothing is guaranteed And if you didn’t go to film school and want to be a director, you really have to look around you, what resources are available to you, who are the people you know and what stories you’re inspired to tell. You really have to work with the circle you have around you instead of thinking it’s out there or you’d have to come to LA and expect things to happen.

3. How has your background as an actress help you as a director?



I feel like I could help comfort the actors, even when they push back. Some actors could get very insecure and some deal with their insecurity by becoming very tough. I learn not to take it personally, and just read it as total insecurity as that’s all it is. They need me to be the one in control, to be the strong one. If I’m not the strong one then they get afraid and nervous, ‘oh she’s not in control.’ So they need to know that ‘I’ve got it. You can be nervous and I’m holding the line here for you and I’ve got your back. Everything’s gonna be fine.’

4. Seeing the grim statistics about women in film, what do you think, from your perspective as a female filmmaker yourself, needs to be done in the industry level?

I think there is a comfort factor for the guys. When they work together there is a code of behavior, I don’t know if I would call it a pack mentality, but there’s an unspoken code of behavior. They call it the ‘Boys Club’ for a reason, it’s like in an athletic club you know, if you think about it like that, there is a code of behavior that’s been long held that they’re comfortable with. So when you introduce a randomness, which is the female into that space, they’d have to get into a learning curve. So is this a friendly person, is she going to judge us for our code? What’s their take?? So as a female leader, I feel like I have to be kind about that, and not be like ‘I’m coming in to blow your game away.’ The way I’d do it is to say, ‘I’m coming in to make your show great, to respect the work that you’ve done thus far and respect your set up here, but now I’ll bring in my intelligence, my talent and ability to the story.’ It does take a certain kind of crafting in that conversation, so we can move from a gender conversation but more about ‘let’s talk about the work.’

5. I’m glad you included Alice Guy-Blaché in your film. I watched her doc Be Natural last year and I felt so guilty that I hadn’t heard of her. So who’s been your fave female filmmakers, or those who have helped path the way for you as a filmmaker?



I saw the film ORLANDO, directed by Sally Potter and I was so blown away by it. It’s such a huge production and it’s a stunning story about gender… a person, a being, moving through bodies, through time… yet there is something so inherently similar no matter whether she was a male or female.

Tilda Swinton in ORLANDO

There was a glimmer of me ‘Could I do that? Is that possible?’ I was trained intensely by my mother that no, it isn’t something I could do. ‘She [Sally Potter] was British, it’s different over there.’ That old argument… You see, my mom was, you know the 1950s mentality, where if you’re going against the patriarchy if you will, the consequences would not be small. You’d have to have a lot of resilience to buck the status quo. I don’t think she felt she had that external or internal support, she was fighting different battles. She wants us to be safe, you know, she wants us to be happy, to survive. Unfortunately, her understanding of the world of what is possible is so limited. I think for her, standing up for what’s right is more satisfying for her.

What’s next for you? I saw you’re in the process of directing two dramatic features (Paint Made Flesh and Journey to Now)?



I’m afraid I can’t say anything about the projects I’m working on, but yes I’m definitely excited to be working on a narrative feature. Storytelling is what I’m about. Although I enjoyed making a documentary, I don’t want to be branded that I’m only doing certain type of things. I like to jump from medium to medium, I’m glad that these films found me and it resonated in our conversations. It worked out, they like me and then I got attached, so now we’re in long conversations of developing something into being. It all came about in a happenstance way, someone I met while making the doc recommended me for one, and someone else I met through the the process of finding more women directors recommended me as a female director, ‘hey think about Cady McClain.’ I think people who saw the documentary thought ‘oh she could tell a good story.’


Follow the film journey online:


Thanks Cady McClain for chatting with FlixChatter!


TCFF screening time:
 Tuesday, October 22nd 4:15PM

TCFF 2019 Spotlight: The Ringmaster documentary + Interview w/ creator/producer Zach Capp

What do world-famous onion rings, legendary band KISS, a beloved chef from Minnesota and a former gambling addict have in common? A loving tribute to a special family in Minnesota.

Hi everyone, Ruth here. This is perhaps one of the most unusual documentaries I’ve seen… it’s rare that a documentarian ends up being part of the subject of the film he’s creating, but that’s what happened here. Zach Capp initially wanted to make a film about a film about the Worthington chef and his famous onion rings, but The Ringmaster is what I would call a ‘meta’ film as it turns the camera on the filmmaker and ends up documenting the efforts and almost-failures over a 3-year journey. The result is something extraordinary… bizarre, sometimes even painful to watch, but also fascinating and endearing. I think the film is a sweet love letter to chef Larry Lang and perhaps even the town of Worthington as well. Zach said to me at the beginning of our chat that the film reminds us of an onion – the more you peel away the layers the more you discover. 

Before I get to the interview, let me share a bit about the background behind the film, and Zach Capp specifically.

Zach’s subject, shy, quirky chef Larry Lang, is loved by his town, Worthington, MN and known for making the best onion rings in America (as verified by food critic Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post). Zach’s mother is from MN and his family vacationed in southwest MN when he was a young boy. Zach never missed an opportunity to sample the world-famous rings at Michael’s which was the Lang family’s restaurant. Larry’s father Michael created the “secret recipe” in 1949 – the 70th anniversary in 2019.

 Zach’s beloved grandfather, Martin Capp spent his formative meager beginnings in St. Paul and later in life became a huge philanthropic figure in the Twin Cities area. His name appeared on downtown hotel towers in Minneapolis and St. Paul and thousands of families would live in houses built by his company, Capp Homes, which pioneered affordable pre-fabricated housing in the postwar years. Martin and wife Esther Capp aided many charities in the Twin Cities including the Minnesota Children’s Museum.

Papa Martin with his grandson Zach Capp – photo credit: Zachary Capp

Martin Capp thought that his grandson Zach should pursue his passion and become a filmmaker. When Martin passed away, Zach decided to use the inheritance his grandfather left him to make a documentary. The young former gambling addict began a four-year journey filming onion ring chef Larry and sister Linda Lang with the intent of making them and their onion rings world famous. Much of the hundreds of hours of filming took place in Minnesota. Additional footage was shot in South Dakota and Las Vegas.

Larry Lang and his famous onion rings – Photo Credit: The Daily Globe

This documentary was made in loving memory of Martin Capp, who had such strong roots in The Twin Cities. Zach is continuing his grandpa’s philanthropic endeavors. Part of the proceeds from the film will go towards Alzheimer research.

Check out the trailer:

Listen below for the Q&A with Zach Capp:

1. Have you shown this documentary to Worthington residents who knew Larry? If so, how has the reception been?

2. In the doc, you said that ‘maybe I should’ve cut my losses and walk away.’ I’m curious as to the main reason why you didn’t walk away and persisted in telling this story?

Zach Capp & Larry Lang – still from The Ringmaster

3. Watching the doc, it’s evident that you really had a heart for Larry Lang and want to see him succeed. But it was evident that you faced some challenges in making this film. What was the toughest day filming in your 3-year journey?

4. How was working with directors Dave Newberg + Molly Dworsky?


Dave and Molly helped me see what I couldn’t see because I was too close to the story… they really reshaped the whole narrative, they breathe new life into this whole project. I’d say they helped the film find its voice.

5. Some people might see the film and think that you and the directors were unfairly coercing Larry into doing something he didn’t want to do. How do you feel about that viewpoint?

Larry Lang with a KISS band member and the band promoter – still from The Ringmaster

6. The part in the film with the KISS band and seeing Gene Simmons ate those famous onion rings, that must have been surreal. How did that scene come about?

7. Now that Ringmaster film is done. Are you still interested in making the American Food Legends series?


Thank you, Zach, for chatting with FlixChatter!


TCFF screening time:
Monday, October 21st 7:15 PM

Interview with Avengers: Endgame’s co-director Anthony Russo – ‘We Love You 3,000’ Tour

Marvel Studios celebrated the in-home release of Avengers: Endgame with the ‘WE LOVE YOU 3000’ tour. Those who have seen that movie knows the significance of that line, uttered by Iron Man‘s cutie-patootie daughter.

Nine cities and 3,000 giveaways, it’s Marvel’s way to thank fans who’ve invested 11 years in the MCU! Beginning in San Diego at Comic-Con International on July 20 and ending in Anaheim at D23 Expo 2019 the weekend of Aug. 23-25, special guests from Marvel Studios and the MCU greeted fans at various cities.

So, last Wednesday August 14, Best Buy hosted director Anthony Russo for fan meet-n-greet and signing. Thanks to Allied Global Marketing, I and three other MN film bloggers got a chance to interview Mr. Russo on the red carpet prior to the fan event.


On Display at Best Buy were a few props from Endgame, including the broken Captain America’s shield at the hands of Thanos’ mighty sword.


So I was part of the red carpet interview with fellow Twin Cities film bloggers, Paul McGuire Grimes from Paul’s Trip To The Movies, Jared Huizenga from Man Versus Movie, and Mark McPherson from TwinCitiesGeek.com. Each of us took turns asking Anthony Russo a question, but because of time constraints, we only got to ask 1-2 questions each.

Listen below for the Q&A with Anthony Russo:

Paul: I have to ask what your first thoughts were when Kevin Feige told you and your brother Joe that you’d be directing the last two Avengers movies?

Ruth: In regards to your time working in the MCU, what makes you the proudest?

I’m proud that we put our best work in and I’m also grateful that it ended up working for others.

Jared: Now that we’ve come to the end of the Infinity Saga and there are 21 films. Which one is your favorite?

Mark: There’s a lot of elements you juggled on Endgame. Was there any one key aspect that you wanted to maintain throughout Endgame as things were changing?

The important things for us is in regards to the character who’s going to die in the film. We made sure we give Tony Stark a proper arc, to give them the most we could do with that arc…

Paul: How has the technology changed now since The Winter Soldier. Was there anything that you could do in Endgame that maybe you could not have done in The Winter Soldier?

Ruth: How’s your working relationship is w/ the two writers, Christopher Markus + Stephen McFeely whom they’ve worked together for 4 movies. Was there ever any friction between all four of you, and if so how did you resolve that?

“Why my brother and I like to work as a team is because we have opposing points of views… it’s like point, counterpoint, point, counterpoint, it’s like a socratic dialogue we have all day long. We love that. So not disagreeing is actually a part of why the creative relationship has value, because it helps you heat up your ideas and pushes out of your comfort zone…”


Thank you Mr. Russo for chatting with us!
Your fans love you 3000 🙂


Have you seen Avengers:Endgame? Feel free to share your thoughts about the film and/or the interviews.

Guest Post: A tribute for the late JOHN SINGLETON

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On April 29, 2019 director John Singleton passed away after suffering from stroke. He was only 51 years old.

Singleton had a somewhat successful career in Hollywood. Even though he was the youngest film director ever to have been nominated by the Oscars for his first film BOYZ N’ THE HOOD, his career never reached the heights of some of the more well-known directors today (David Fincher, Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee and Ang Lee) that started their careers in the late 80s and early 90s. For the last few years before his death, Singleton has been working mostly on TV shows. He’s the creator of one of my current favorite TV shows called SNOWFALL.

As a tribute to his work, I’m listing my favorite films that he directed. In no particular order, here are some of his best work. Just a side-note, I didn’t see two of his films, BABY BOY and ABDUCTION.

Boyz n the Hood (1991)

Before this film came out, not many films dealt with the tough life in the ghetto of Los Angeles. To many outsiders, it was an eye opener of what life is like living in those rough neighborhoods. The film was a critical and commercial success. Not bad for a filmmaker who was only in his early 20s. The performances by Laurence Fishburn and Cuba Gooding Jr. were pretty great.

Shaft (2000)

After doing a few smaller budget films, Singleton decided to jump into a big budget studio film. A sequel to the 70s Blaxploitation films, it didn’t become the franchise starter the studio had hoped. In fact, the film was more well known for its behind the scenes dramas. According to reports, Singleton and his leading man Samuel L. Jackson constantly argue on the set. Singleton also had disagreements with the film’s producer and writer on the tone and script. So basically, it’s the usual nightmare that many young filmmakers would run into in their first big budget film.

The film opened in the summer of 2000, it did okay at the box office. Despite the difficult shoot, Singleton apparently wanted to do a sequel and tried to convince Sam Jackson to reprise the role. But Jackson was not happy with the film and also with the modest box office returns, Paramount didn’t want to invest their money on the sequel.

Rosewood (1997)

This might be one of the most underrated films of the 90s. A film about the horrific lynch mob attack on an African America community in 1923. For anyone who’ve never seen it, I would highly recommend it. It contains great performances by Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle and Jon Voight. When the film came out in 1997, it received mostly positive reviews but it bombed at the box office. Maybe because of this film’s failure at the box office that Singleton decided to jump into doing big budget studio films such as Shaft and Fast Furious 2.

Poetic Justice

A great performance by Janet Jackson and the late Tupac Shakur. I also loved this film’s soundtrack. This is a film I need to revisit soon since I haven’t seen since it came out over 20 years ago.

Higher Learning (1995)

This film’s about race relation in college campus is probably more relevance in today’s world than many would think back in 1994. I haven’t seen this film since I saw it on opening weekend with my friends back in early 90s, so I don’t remember much about it. I do remember that I liked it but some of the stuff that happened in the film were kind of over the top and a bit cliché. This is another one of Singleton’s work that I need to revisit.

Four Brothers

This was Singleton’s last big-budget production film. A kind of strange action thriller that I still didn’t know how it got green lighted by the studio. The film starred Mark Wahlberg playing Mark Wahlberg. It wasn’t bad, just wasn’t that interesting and the action scenes were pretty lackluster.

John Singleton was not one of my favorite directors but he had enough talents that I thought he can make a big comeback. Sadly, we’ll never know if he could but I appreciate his films.

Rest in Peace Mr. Singleton. 


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What are some of YOUR favorite films by John Singleton?