Promised Land

Matt Damon re-teams with the director of Good Will Hunting.

River of No Return

Marilyn Monroe explores the Wild West.

Satellite Boy

Pete lives with his grandfather in an old abandoned outdoor cinema.

Wuthering Heights

Forbidden love in the United Kingdom.

Cafe de Flore

Vanessa Paradis in an emotional French tale.


Poster - Sunset Song

The title and poster appealed to me right away. Then I watched the trailer, and I knew that Sunset Song had the kind of cinematography I could fall in love with. 

The cinematography for Sunset Song looks gorgeous. Glorious! It's the kind of film that embraces the beauty of land, and nature. The first image in the trailer is stunning, and every new clip fills our eyes with beautiful images. 

Sunset Song is about "the daughter of a Scottish farmer who comes of age in the early 1900s." 

With a film this visually appealing I can only hope that it's full of substance and depth. 

Sunset Song hits theaters on May 13th.  


Melina Matsoukas, Beyoncé's "Formation" and Why Black Cinema Needs A Terrence Malick

Beyoncé's "Formation" is a relevant example of everything I'd like to see happen in the ranks of black cinematography

I've had several conversations about how indie black filmmakers should be she studying Beyoncé and Rihanna's music videos for technical purposes, to learn from their craft and visual artistry. Whether you like their music or not is irrelevant, their music videos are ground-breaking, and offer great lessons in lighting black skin, and framing a "wow" shot. 

Bradford Young
has become a master of cinematography, and he is at the heart of the Subtle Core movement. His repeat collaborations with Andrew Dosunmu and Ava DuVernay have yielded stellar visual achievements. Selma, and Restless City are beautifully shot. Gorgeous works of art, that offer visual beauty with character and story depth.

We need more black filmmakers and cinematographers to become rising stars in Hollywood. For their visuals: cinematography. 

Steve McQueen. Amma Asante. Gina Prince-Bythewood. Dee Rees. Justin Simien. And many others are out there crafting these kind of visually stunning masterpieces. But we need more filmmakers. More opportunities. More chances for black art to shine... Which brings me back to Beyoncé's "Formation." This music video has the kind of potent images, stylization, and cultural impact that black cinema needs more of. 

Melina Matsoukas has become a music video auteur with Beyoncé's "Formation" and Rihanna's "We Found Love." She orchestrates these weird, and wild, visual concepts that "wow" us with her visual style and artistry. And that's what black cinema needs... Stunning scenes that illustrate deep focus, and deep staging, breath-taking shots that fill the frame in wonderfully original ways. Black cinematography needs a Days of Heaven, a Terrence Malick kind of grand entrance. The kind where the cinematography takes the forefront. Where the cinematography is a character of its own, where the cinematography "steals the show" and gets the bulk of the spotlight and is at the center of all the write-ups and articles.

It's happening. Slowly. We need more films like Middle of Nowhere, Belle12 Years A Slave, and Bessie. I've heard great things about Nate Parker's The Birth of A Nation. It is happening. Black filmmakers are elevating, and excelling in cinematography. I want Hollywood to get to the point where black filmmakers get the same kind of financial backing, and creative freedom to craft weirdly artsy films like The Tree of Life with A-List talent who agree to a project without seeing the script and just go-with-the flow because "hey, it's Terrence Malick." Black cinema needs that. Hollywood needs that. It could produce some amazing films. 

Labels: ,

Why Matthew A. Cherry should a get a shot at directing Creed 2

In a perfect world Ryan Coogler would direct the sequel to Creed. But, in the same perfect world, maybe it's okay if Coogler doesn't direct Creed 2. What if Coogler has opened the door, paved the way, for other black filmmakers to build upon the successful legacy of Rocky with a new chapter in the series following Adonis' boxing saga.

Coogler will be wrapped up bringing Marvel's Black Panther to the big screen. That's a huge deal. An amazing gig to score for any filmmaker, especially a black filmmaker. But I think we're all hoping that even if Coogler can't direct Creed 2 that he'll still have some kind of hand in the sequel, producing or maybe being a co-writer on the script. Something along those lines.

Which brings me to indie filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry. You may, or may not, be familiar with his work. Cherry is a former pro NFL player turned filmmaker. He's directed several music videos, and his feature film debut The Last Fall premiered at SXSW and starred Lance Gross and Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow). 

The Last Fall is one of the best "sports dramas" I've seen because it deals with an athlete's life after the spotlight. It explores the "dark side" of professional football, the under-belly, and paints a wonderful picture of the self-doubt and angst that is rarely associated with elite athletes. In The Last Fall we get to see the man behind the game day jersey, and get a glimpse of his vulnerability. It's a solid and poignant tale. The Last Fall offers the kind of moody "Subtle Core" heartbeat that made Creed and Rocky so good. The beautiful thing about Rocky films (and Creed) was what happened outside of the ring, what made these men, these characters, worthy of the fight. Cherry's work with The Last Fall is an impressive example of how he could expand upon the layered depth of Adonis, and Rocky. Coogler got two Oscar-worthy performances from Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. They were at the top of their acting game. 

What becomes of Adonis now that he's become a "star" in the boxing world? How does he deal with the fame? Will the fame re-shape his relationship with Bianca (Tessa Thompson)? These are the kind of questions that I hope Creed 2 covers, and these are all things that Cherry has shown the range to skillfully craft.

I'm not saying that Matthew A. Cherry  is the only director that should be in the running to direct Creed 2. But Cherry should definitely be a serious contender.

Labels: , ,

Nate Parker is The King of Sundance with Birth Of A Nation

Nate Parker's Oscar campaign has officially began. Birth Of A Nation had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this week and the film got a "standing ovation" and the largest deal in Sundance history. According to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter Birth Of A Nation has landed a "record breaking" $17.5 million acquisition from FOX Searchlight

Long-time fans of Parker are familiar with the mention of his passion project about the story of Nat Turner. I feel like I've been hearing about it for at least a couple years, and I had hoped that it would be good. But apparently it's great! According to the reports out of Park City, film critics (and fans) are pretty much calling Birth Of A Nation a masterpiece.

Nate Parker wrote, directed, and stars in Birth Of A Nation. The film is about "Nat Turner, a former slave in America who leads a liberation movement in 1831 to free African-Americans in Virginia that results in a violent retaliation from whites." The film also stars Aja Naomi King (How To Get Away With Murder), Gabrielle Union (Being Mary Jane), and Armie Hammer (The Social Network). 

And let's not forget Parker's excellent performance in Beyond The Lights as Officer Kaz Nichol. That film was under-represented at last year's Academy Awards, only getting a Best Song nomination when it deserved so much more. 

Hopefully this time next year the Oscars won't be so white, and Nate Parker (and Birth Of A Nation) will have several nominations including Best Actor, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture. 

Labels: ,

TV Tonight - Watch Jessica Parker Kennedy on Black Sails

The 3rd season of Black Sails returns on Starz tonight with fresh tales of high-seas drama. Even if you're new to the show and have no idea who's who... you can jump into the inevitable wild fun that pirates bring. 

This show originally caught my interest because:

1. Pirates are cool.  2. Starz has solid programming and 3. Jessica Parker Kennedy got cast in the show.

If you've been following Reel Artsy, you'll remember that we interviewed Kennedy back when the Canadian actress first started getting cast in American roles. She played the quirky best friend in a made-for-TV teen movie, and she's been on my radar ever since. Kennedy has booked roles on various TV shows (Smallville, The Secret Circle, 90210) and been in some movies (50/50, Bad Meat, In Time). She's had steady work, but I'm still looking forward to her landing a starring role in a big film that pushes her career to the next level, and truly showcases her range as an actress and leading lady.

On Black Sails Kennedy plays a savvy prostitute with ambitious goals to carve out a niche for herself in the male-driven pirates' world of Captain Flint. 

The show is a bit of a prequel to the famed Treasure Island story so you can expect all sorts of ruthless pirate action on Black Sails. 

If you're still catching up like me, be prepared to binge watch while you tune into the new season. Black Sails premieres tonight at 9pm on Starz

[Photo cred: Starz, Maxim]


TV Tonight - The 100 starring Eliza Taylor

The 100 returns for its third season tonight, 
and it has quietly become one of the best TV shows on the air. A real sleeper hit. It's thoughtful, and action packed; full of weighty issues and complexities that make for good sci-fi. 

Clarke (Eliza Taylor) is somewhat of a Katniss Everdeen for the small screen: fierce, gutsy, and a real game changer. Season 2 left Clarke in disarray after she made a serious life or death decision for the sake of her people. She bares the weight of being a leader who's had to sacrifice a piece of herself for the greater good. And the longer she stays on earth, in this fight for survival, she loses her grasp on what truly is "good" anymore. It's a beautiful thing to watch, the strength she showcases to others while her inner solace starts to fade. 

Tune into The CW tonight at 9pm to see how this sci-fi saga continues its epic tale.