Category: Celebrity Gossip

‘Atlanta Skips A Grade

What is “Atlanta,” exactly? It’s a fair but limiting question.

Fair, because, look, if one week you were watching a show about a couple who might have br28oken up at a German-culture festival, and then the next week they’re gone and you’re watching a road comedy about an exasperated rapper and his pathologically distractible barber, and the episode after that is a mini horror film built around a different character trapped in the mansion of a kooky human mannequin, the changeups might feel destabilizing. But the question is limiting since so much TV in general right now resembles no TV that’s come before it.

“Atlanta,” whose second season wrapped up on FX on Thursday night, proudly embodies that development. No episode looked or felt the same as the one before it.

[Read our recap of the Season 2 finale of “Atlanta”]

The show has four central characters — Earn; Alfred; Darius; and Earn’s sometimes ex-girlfriend, Van — who veer in and out of friendship, selfhood, personal clarity and, often, the show itself. In a classic television sense, “Atlanta” is about them. But it’s also increasingly about itself: what its makers can do with the medium, yes, and also what’s possible for the twinned comedies of race and status. It knows the assorted bars a half-hour “sitcom” faces and sets out to raise, vault over and demolish them, to prioritize “sit” over “com.” “Atlanta” is like a rapper obsessed with his own brilliance. You want to see if the show can top itself because that self-regard is part of the hook. But loving this show means worrying that it might be devoured by its own genius, that it’s too great to last, that, eventually, conceit will cannibalize concept. This second batch of episodes was more obviously, aggressively ambitious. The show became cinema (one ominous aerial shot of a vegetal forest canopy made me want vinaigrette) and appeared to have on its mind the ideas in “Get Out,” the moods of “Moonlight,” the hypnotic ambiguities of David Lynch. Some of that reach toward movie-ness nudged the show into self-conscious precocity, the equivalent of skipping a grade.

Bravo Greenlights 4-Part Special ‘Xscape: Still Kickin’ It’ (Working Title)

screensceneAs TV One preps its previously-announced unauthorized biopic on the group, Bravo Media has giving the greenlight to a four-part special “Xscape: Still Kickin’ It” (working title), chronicling the much-anticipated reunion of one of the most successful, chart topping, female R&B groups of all time. Coming this fall, the series will follow Xscape’s former members Kandi Burruss of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” Tameka “Tiny” Cottle and sisters LaTocha and Tamika Scott.

Xscape exploded onto the music scene in the 90’s and emerged as one of the most prolific girl groups of all time. The women had three consecutive Platinum albums, with six of their top-ten songs hitting the Billboard 100. However, fans were shocked at the group’s seemingly sudden split and have been persistently calling for a reunion ever since. With the upcoming 25-year-anniversary of Xscape’s first album release, the women have decided to reunite for this special milestone and most importantly as an ode to their loyal fans.

“We are so excited to team up with Bravo and give our fans an up-close-and-personal look into our lives as we get ready for Essence Fest!” says Xscape. “This process has been a whirlwind with so many ups and downs, but we are loving every minute of being back together, and cannot wait to share the love, laughs, and craziness with you all!”

Each episode will document the group as they attempt to heal past wounds and reconcile after nearly two decades apart, all in an effort to make beautiful music together culminating at Essence’s 2017 Festival.”Xscape: Still Kickin’ It” (wt) is produced for Bravo by Truly Original and Monami Entertainment. Steven Weinstock, Glenda Hersh, Lauren Eskelin, Lorraine Haughton-Lawson and Thomas Jaeger (Truly Original) and Mona Scott-Young and Stephanie Gayle (Monami Productions) serve as Executive Producers.

15 films you should be excited for this year The second half of 2017 looks set to be a big one for cinema.

As summer blockbuster season gets underway, you might be forgiven for thinking there’s a lack of imagination in cinema this year. But fear not. Between the 80s reboots and top auteurs at work, the rest of the year on the big screen looks thrilling. Here’s 15 of the best to watch out for.

The Beguiled
Sofia Coppola’s much anticipated retelling of the 1971 Don Siegel film, reimagines the story from a female perspective. The Beguiled sees wounded civil war soldier (Colin Farrell) turn up at the door of a girls boarding school in the south, and con his way into each woman’s heart. Nicole Kidman is the headmistress while Elle Fanning and Kirsten Dunst co-star. They do not, it seems, take this lying down.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Luc Besson is back with a new, visually stunning, sci-fi epic. Based on a French graphic novel, Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne star as two human operatives sent to safeguard Alpha, an ever expanding metropolis where diverse species gather together. The director of The Fifth Element gets to run wild with his imagined future.

You Were Never Really Here
It’s been a long time since Lynne Ramsay’s last feature length outing, the psychotic child drama We Need to Talk about Kevin, but this adaptation of another novel (this time the work of Jonathan Ames) sees her in equally hard-hitting territory. In You Were Never Really Here, Joaquin Phoenix is an army vet who tries to save a young girl — played by Ekaterina Samsonov — from prostitution.

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami
Originally titled Grace Jones  The Musical of My Life, this documentary from Sophie Fiennes began way back in 2005. Mixing personal footage with staged musical sequences, Fiennes says that for her biopic, Jones “made the bold decision to unmask.” If that’s the case, the results should be cracking.

Slice
In what may be the first film to tackle the perils of zero-hour contracts, Chance the Rapper stars as a local outlaw framed for killing off all the local pizza delivery boys. There’s also a werewolf element to this first feature by Austin Vesely, Chance’s video director and frequent collaborator. So expect more gore ‘n’ gags than socio political commentary.

God’s Own Country
This Yorkshire-set gay romance won a Special Jury award when it premiered at Sundance, and is set to be one of the most buzzed about British films of the year. Rightly so. Writer, director, and local Yorkshire lad, Francis Lee’s story about a young, gay farmer (Josh O’Connor) who forms a relationship with the hired help, a Romanian migrant worker (Alec Secareanu) is a raw, revelatory beauty.

It
If you cannot wait until Halloween for the second series of Stranger Things, the It remake should stave off your retro 80s scary cravings. This timely reimagining of the 1986 Stephen King novel about a dancing clown who haunts the kids of a small town in Maine, looks like a visually nostalgic treat, terrifying as hell, and even features Stranger Things alumni Finn Wolfhard as, you guessed it, an 80s kid investigating the local shapeshifter.

David Lynch: The Art Life
By the time this David Lynch doc arrives in cinemas, you should be well into his Twin Peaks revival; perfect timing then to hear from the man himself as he explains the events that helped shape his enigmatic art. Just don’t expect him to tell you what’s in the Mulholland Drive blue box.

The Death and Life of John F. Donovan
Xavier Dolan made his name at Cannes, but this drama — his 7th film — is only his second not to premiere at the French festival. Dolan announced that, between the trolling he received in 2016, and the fact The Death and Life of John F. Donovan wouldn’t be finished in time, the French-Canadian wunderkind wasn’t going to enter it for selection. Time will tell if Cannes has lost out on premiering another winner from Dolan, but the premise sounds strong: it’s about a pen-friend relationship between an adult TV star (Kit Harington) and a young actor (Room’s Jacob Tremblay) that spirals when publicly exposed.

Flatliners
Less of a remake and more of a sequel to the 1990 original, in which medical students experiment with near-death experiences. That one starred a young Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland. The latter returns in 2017, alongside Diego Luna, Kiersey Clemons, and Ellen Page.

Blade Runner 2049
Arrival director Denis Villeneuve has huge expectations to meet with this sequel to Ridley Scott’s much-loved sci-fi noir classic. It’s 30 years on from the original’s 2019 setting, but everything looks pretty similar in dystopian L.A. K (Ryan Gosling) is the man charged with hunting down replicants, while also searching for Rick Deckard, the original Blade Runner (Harrison Ford, reprising the role). 

Mute
Duncan Jones’s Moon was one of the best sci-fi films of recent years and Mute, 12 years in the planning and set in Berlin 40 years in the future, is directly connected to his debut work. Alexander Skarsgård stars as a mute bartender who journeys into the underbelly of the city.

Mother!
Little is known about Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky’s latest project, but the recently released first look at the artwork suggests an absolute creep show. The official blurb sounds earthbound enough, a story about a couple whose relationship is tested by uninvited guests. But the teaser poster, with Jennifer Lawrence’s character offering a bloody heart torn from her chest, suggests we might be in for something altogether more ghoulish.

Call Me by Your Name
A Bigger Splash director Luca Guadagnino finds romance in the mid-80s Italian summer. On a vacation of the most cultured kind with his professor dad and equally smart mother, 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) falls in love with Oliver, his father’s 24-year-old teaching assistant (Armie Hammer). A grand, queer, sun-soaked romance follows that will steer the course of Elio’s life.


Phantom Thread
Paul Thomas Anderson’s first film with Daniel Day Lewis since There Will Be Blood in 2007 has a working title of Phantom Thread, and is currently being filmed in Whitby, North Yorkshire. The film will take place in the “couture world” and will follow a man commissioned to design for high society. Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood is on scoring duties. The film is due for a Christmas 2017 release, teeing it up nicely for Oscar glory in 2018. But that’s another year in cinema…

Why Denzel’s Already Won (And He Doesn’t Need An Oscar To Prove It)

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If Denzel Washington wins the best actor Oscar this month, it won’t break any obvious records; the actor won his first Academy Award in 1990. However, his role as Whip Whitaker in “Flight” (now available on XFINITY On Demand™) stands out for a reason made plain by the film’s review in the New York Times: “Flight Stars Denzel Washington as an Alcoholic Pilot.” Newspaper headlines have to say a lot with little, but these eight words demonstrate how much ground Black men have covered in Hollywood since Denzel Washington accepted his first Oscar from Geena Davis 23 years ago. He gripped the statue and gave it a long look as the camera panned to a beaming Morgan Freeman. Denzel soaked up the applause and adjusted his tux before he made his acceptance speech that concluded with an homage to the “Black soldiers who helped to make this country free.” The moment was a watershed in American culture. Not only did we get to witness the rise of a modern-day Sidney Poitier who moved with a showman’s swagger, but we also saw the birth of a nuanced presence for Black men in Hollywood. In the 23 years since Denzel Washington won, we’ve moved from a Black man portraying a slave who becomes a heroic soldier to portraying a drug- and alcohol-addicted airline pilot whose heroism can’t outweigh his own flaws. We are in a time where storytelling about black lives lean toward the individual rather than the collective “We” that long typified movies made about Black Americans. In her essay collection “The Black Interior,” cultural critic Elizabeth Alexander characterizes the period in which Washington came-of-age as revolutionary. “Washington has made very precise career choices, and there are no careless moves in his filmography,” she writes. “To portray Black historical characters was the necessary work of the 1980s and 1990s as opportunities for Black actors and directors expanded and Black people took more control of the image-making onscreen.” The care with which Denzel Washington and his advisors crafted his career is nothing short of remarkable. For most Black actors, their glory is summed up in one or two memorable roles. Haven’t we all heard the argument that there aren’t enough good scripts written for Black talent? However, Washington’s half-dozen Oscar nominations track the evolution in his filmography from historical heroic figures to more deeply flawed creations in which the character’s race may be the least interesting element.

His first nomination came in 1987 as a supporting actor for his portrayal of martyred anti-apartheid activist and journalist Steve Biko in “Cry Freedom.” That was followed by his Oscar-winning turn as slave-turned-soldier Private Trip in “Glory” (1989), then as the titular “Malcolm X” in 1993 (his first Best Actor nomination). In 1999, he was Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the legendary middleweight boxer who was falsely accused of murder, in “Hurricane.” And then with “Training Day” (2001), as corrupt Los Angeles police detective Alonzo Harris, he crossed the rubicon: He won the Oscar with a character who was complex, unredeemed and entirely fictional. “Flight” arguably raises the stakes even higher: While Det. Harris was a very smart twist on the gangsta characterizations of so many films, the story of pilot Whitaker wasn’t attached to any race; as many films have already proven, addiction struggles can belong to anyone. Washington has been liberated to do what Poitier was never allowed to be on screen: fully human. Poitier acknowledged as much in an interview with the Academy shortly after Washington won for “Training Day,” on the same night that Poitier received an honorary award representing his body of work.http://www.oscars.org/video/watch/mi_spoitier_denzel.html

Noted Poitier, “It represented progress. It represented… a kind of democracy that had been very long in maturing. His following me as he did, he had taken the concept of African-Americans in films to a place where I couldn’t, I didn’t. I thank him for that. He helped me that evening to a closing of my artistic life.”