An extensive preview of 50 films coming out within the next four months, from "Sully" to "Toni Erdmann."
After years of speculation and delays, "The Tree of Life," Terrence Malick's long-awaited film that took viewers from the beginning of time to 1950s Texas, proved to be worth the wait, according to the Chicago Film Critics Association. The CFCA gave "Tree of Life" four awards including Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actress for newcomer Jessica Chastain and Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki.
This introduction to Odienator's Fourth Annual Black History Mumf, a celebration of what we used to call African-American Popular Culture, needs no introduction. Especially to Scanners readers, who've been following it since he challenged Miss Ross's fashion designs in 2008. Of those early days, Odienator (think Odie N. Ator, as in Frank N. Furter, or possibly Meatloaf Aday) now writes:
When I started this series in 2008, I made fun of the Black History Month curriculum we were fed every February in grammar school. I wanted to make my own version of that curriculum, using movies and TV and events from my life to fill in all the holes where public school was lacking. All they told us, in a nutshell, was that we were slaves, we were freed by Abraham Lincoln, and then Martin Luther King showed up. This happened every year, usually sponsored by Budweiser. Boy was I snarky about the lack of depth and detail back then! But now I've been humbled, because as anemic as it may have been, at least they told us the truth and didn't try to change it.
"The truth is, Black History Month was started by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a Black historian fed up with the lack of historical representation of people of color. In 1926, he pioneered Negro History Week, putting it on the same week as Lincoln and Frederick Douglass' birthdays. That's how February became associated with Black History Month, not some attempt to play us cheap. So, my apologies to Dr. Woodson. Mea culpa to the Man as well, though as my Mom used to tell me after erroneously beating my ass for something I didn't do, "you probably deserved this for something I didn't catch.' "
Odienator is back, and he's beautiful! The self-described "bald, Black, half-blind kid" has returned to Big Media Vandalism for his second annual "It's Black History Mumf, Odienator" Film Festival, aka "Odie 2: Electric Boogaloo." (And he's filing some of it from a business trip to Dublin, Internet willing!)
"Since Obama has made Black History every month until at least January 2013," he writes, "I am now claiming February as my own." Yes he does. So far you'll find inimitably Odienesque personal essays on "Devil In a Blue Dress," "Beat Street, "Baadasssss!," "Eve's Bayou," "Cotton Comes to Harlem,"Something the Lord Made," "Lady Sings the Blues," "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka," Scary Black Movies (including "Blacula," "Abby" and "Candyman") -- and appreciations of "Sanford and Son," actor Roscoe Lee Browne, and the late Bernie Mac, Isaac Hayes and Rudy Ray Moore, aka Dolemite. (Odiebama also makes a couple guest appearances.)
... and channels roles from the entire career of James Earl Jones. That's the premise of this very funny short, "Vader Sessions," from Akjak Moving Pictures, in which the Imperial Villain speaks in Jones' voice through sound clips from "The Great White Hope" to "Clear and Present Danger" to "A Family Thing." (I kept waiting for him to announce: "This... is CNN.") I know: Is it possible for yet another "Star Wars" parody to be funny? I think these guys have demonstrated that it is. I'd love to know the sources of all the dialog used -- so feel free to post a comment with whatever you recognize.
(Thanks to Alonso Sobrado in Costa Rica!)
Q: I've been revisiting the original "Star Wars" trilogy in preparation for "Episode III." I was shocked to see at the end of "Return of the Jedi" the ethereal image of the older Anakin Skywalker replaced by Hayden Christensen's younger version. The change didn't make any sense, any more than if George Lucas had replaced Sir Alec Guinness with Ewan McGregor. I didn't mind all the other little tweaks, but this left me feeling cheated. More than that, don't you think it's disrespectful to Sebastian Shaw? Jimmy Jacobs, Columbia, S.C.
Q. Lucasfilm has been threatening to withhold further promotional materials for "Star Wars -- Episode I: The Phantom Menace" from theaters if the posters and preview trailers are not returned by January 14, 1999. Why must all the promotional materials be withheld from the public as collector's items? (Jeff Young, Lake Elsinore, CA)
Q. There's been a lot of discussion about the success of "Seven." One thing really sang out to me. The picture was written not by a committee but by a single writer, and one who obviously had some education. This is in sharp and dire contrast to the usual run of bang-bang movies in which musclemen with oiled pectorals blow hoods away with dialogue on the order of, " **** you, *******." I grew up on films written by real authors, including Hecht and MacArthur, and, like most novelists, I cringe at the "Hollywood-Speak" of so-called screen "writers." The writer of "Seven" deserves an Oscar nomination. (John Jakes, Hilton Head Island, S.C.)
Q. The premise of "Indecent Proposal" might not actually be as outlandish as it sounds. The next time you see Elizabeth Taylor, give her a jolt by suddenly and unexpectedly asking her about the time FRANK SINATRA offered to pay her a MILLION DOLLARS for a single night's roll in the hay. -- Hank Cleary, White Plains, N.Y.
Billy Dee Williams has been called the black Clark Gable and, if pressed, he'll agree that the comparison has some merit. Now 38, Williams spent a long apprenticeship on Broadway, in television and as a supporting film actor before he made his breakthrough as Chicago Bear Gale Sayers in "Brian's Song " in 1971.