Category: cinema

Russell Simmons Documentary Premieres Amid Controversy

PARK CITY, Utah — Outside the Sundance Film Festival premiere of “On the Record,” the documentary about women who have accused the hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct, a truck flashed an electronic sign in support of survivors: “Hold sexual abusers accountable.” Inside, the directors were thanking the festival for its support after Oprah Winfrey backed out as an executive producer.

Drew Dixon, a central figure in “On the Record,” in a scene from the film.Credit…Omar Mullick/Sundance Institute

Simmons has denied the accusations, and Winfrey has said creative differences with the directors led to her withdrawal. But she acknowledged this month that the Def Jam founder had tried to get her to abandon the project: “He did reach out multiple times and attempted to pressure me.”

At the film’s premiere on Saturday, its two directors, Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick, seemed to refer to the controversy when Ziering told the crowd, “Thanks to Sundance for standing strong and never blinking.” She added, “These are difficult times. It’s important to stand up for truth, justice and moral authority.”

The audience — which included the Netflix chairman and chief executive Reed Hastings, the CNN chief Jeff Zucker and the actresses Rosanna Arquette and Frances Fisher — was mostly silent during the screening. But applause broke out when the film’s central figure, Drew Dixon, who has accused Simmons of raping her, said, “It’s time to take seriously the plunder of black women.” The crowd also applauded when “On the Record” showed a group of hip-hop D.J.s affirming their support for the accusers.

After the screening, Dixon along with two other women from the documentary, Sil Lai Abrams and Sherri Hines, went onstage to a standing ovation and took part in a Q. and A. along with the directors.

Asked whether the fact that Ziering and Dick are white was one reason the documentary faced pushback, Dixon alluded to deep divisions among African-Americans over the #MeToo movement and whether black men were singled out for their race. The filmmakers “aren’t subject to the incoming pressure that even powerful black people are subject to,” Dixon told the audience. “They listened and deferred to us and centered us.”

Before Winfrey pulled out of the project, she had sought changes in the film to address the broader cultural context of the music industry. What the audience saw on Saturday reflected those changes.

“On the Record” follows Dixon as she weighs whether to take her sexual abuse claims public. Dixon, a 48-year-old former music executive, claims that Simmons raped her in 1995 when she was working for him as a young executive. Simmons has denied all accusations of nonconsensual sex.

Ziering and Dick, who have spent the past decade revealing sexual assault in the military (“The Invisible War”) and on college campuses (“The Hunting Ground”), begin tracking Dixon in the wake of the #MeToo movement, after an explosive column by the screenwriter Jenny Lumet alleging abuse against Simmons. Dixon’s claims are similar, and the film focuses on her as she grapples with her fears about how the black community will respond.

She also admits to idolizing Simmons when he first hired her: “Russell Simmons was who I wanted to be,” she says in the film. “I couldn’t have scripted it better.”

Recalling Anita Hill’s claims against Clarence Thomas when he was nominated for the Supreme Court, and Desiree Washington’s accusations against Mike Tyson, Dixon agonizes over whether she wants to go public, fearing that she is up against a force much larger than herself. “I’m never going to be that person,” she says in the film. “The black community is going to hate my guts.”

The documentary also discusses the culture at the time: misogyny in the music business, both in specifics when it came to hip-hop, and in general terms, pointing out that the rap genre didn’t invent the use of degrading images of women in its music videos. #MeToo founder Tarana Burke is also a frequent voice, adding commentary about black women’s place in the movement, and their feelings of alienation. “Black women feel like they have to support black men,” she said.

The movie returns to the Simmons case and other women’s stories: Abrams, a former model who had a relationship with him, tells her abuse story and the aftermath, when she tried to kill herself. “I’m a failure, a chew toy for men of power,” she says in the documentary. Hines, from the all-female hip-hop group Mercedes Ladies, also tells her story, agonizing over its consequences.

The film concludes with a tearful meeting between Abrams, Dixon and Lumet. The three join together for a survivor’s reunion, part commiseration over their shared experiences, part celebration of their recovery.

“I wish I could have come forward earlier,” Lumet says regretfully. “He could have left everyone else alone.” SOURCE OF THIS STORY: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/25/movies/russell-simmons-documentary-controversy.html

Margot Robbie and Michael B. Jordan Compare Notes on Boxing, Acting Naked, and Harley Quinn vs. Killmonger

Margot Robbie and Michael B. Jordan seem to effortlessly check all the movie star boxes: Megawatt charm? Check (those smiles!). Actor clout? No problem (having Martin Scorsese and Ryan Coogler launch their respective careers can’t hurt). Lucrative blockbuster movie franchises? Yep, that too (Robbie in Suicide Squad and Jordan in Creed, with a memorable detour into Wakanda). So, as it turns out, they have a lot to talk about—and not just about fame and their good fortune. Here, as part of our annual Best Performances portfolio, Robbie, who starred in the recent palace-intrigue period drama Mary Queen of Scots, and Jordan, who returned in Creed 2 and dominated the screen in Black Panther this year, sit down with W‘s Editor at Large Lynn Hirschberg to share not only how it is they make morally questionable villains like Harley Quinn and Killmonger into magnetic antiheroes, but also their totally embarrassing early email addresses, their most memorable red carpet fashion faux pas, and their frankly amazing first kiss stories.

So Michael, what’s the first album you ever bought?

Michael B. Jordan: First album? Ah, man, that’s a good one.
Margot Robbie: Oh, that is a good one.
Jordan: I want to say, on cassette tape… um, Usher’s My Way.
Robbie: That’s a good answer.
Jordan: You’re taking me back. I want to say I rode my bike to the music store that was, like, down the street.

What was the first album you ever bought, Margot?

Robbie: I think the first album I bought was, um, AFI’s Sing the Sorrow. I was in a bit of a heavy metal phase. But I think the first single I bought was Blink 182, “All the Small Things.”
Jordan: Okay. So the heavy metal. Are you still in that phase or did you pass that?
Robbie: Occasionally.
Jordan: Occasionally?
Robbie: Occasionally.

Have you ever gone through a heavy metal phase, Michael?

Jordan: I have not.
Robbie: [Laughs.]
Jordan: But electric guitar solos are my thing. Like, I love, the Ernie Isleys of the world, the “Who’s That Lady” solo is pretty incredible. [Michael Jackson’s] “Dirty Diana” is pretty good.

Do you play air guitar?

Jordan: Air guitar? All day. [Laughs.]
Robbie: I can air guitar. That’s about the extent of my musical prowess, really.

Michael, did you box before Creed?

Jordan: I never officially boxed but karate, martial arts, and stuff like that. And then I kinda segued into boxing.

And you, Margot, have you ever boxed?

Robbie: I’ve done a bit of boxing, yeah—mainly to prepare for fight training, like stunt work. And I really, really like it. I have stupidly long arms, like, they’re too long for my body. So actually it’s kind of good when you’re boxing.
Jordan: The reach is incredible.
Robbie: An extra long reach. And it looks good on camera. Having long limbs on camera makes your punches—
Jordan: Your punch is a little wider, yeah, yeah, yeah. She knows what she’s talking about.

What I love about both of your performances in different movies is that although you kind of play superheroes in both Suicide Squad and in Black Panther, you’re also kind of antiheroes at the same time. There’s a kind of dichotomy to the characters.

Robbie: A lovable rogue.
Jordan: That’s right. I like that. I mean, those are the most interesting characters to me sometimes, like when I’m watching films that, on screen, are the ones that you can empathize with. Like, they want you to root against ’em. They want you to not like them. But somehow you can still understand where they’re coming from and that’s important.

Do you have a favorite villain? Other than Killmonger.

Jordan: Yeah, because he’s tough. I mean, honestly, it’s between [Michael] Fassbender’s Magneto and Heath Ledger’s Joker. Honestly. Those two are pretty up there for me. [To Robbie] What about you?
Robbie: I’m totally stealing someone else’s answer. I’ve heard someone else say this, but I do truly think this is a genius villain: HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Jordan: Ohhh. Man.
Robbie: It’s just such a cool villain. That was genius.

But it is also kind of weirdly sympathetic.

Robbie: Totally. The best villains are sympathetic.

With both these characters, you act with very little clothing on. Is it difficult to act when you are basically naked?

Robbie: Uh …
Jordan: I’m always naked, actually.
Robbie: Honestly, for me, as Harley at least, the more skin showing the longer it takes in hair and makeup ’cause she’s got, you know, white skin and a million tattoos. So if anything outside, god, the scenes where I don’t even have the jacket on, that’s an extra 20 minutes in the makeup trailer.
Jordan: Yeah, same here. Killmonger, all the scars and stuff like that, the makeup, it took a long time to put the prosthetics on.
Robbie: Yeah, you want to be more covered up.

So, Michael, what was the very first thing you ever auditioned for?

Jordan: Ooh.
Robbie: Hmm. I’m trying to think of the first thing I auditioned for.

Let’s say the one you got.

JordanThe Sopranos. I don’t know what season it was, but Tony [Soprano] was having a flashback. And I played a bully in his childhood who bullied him on the boardwalk on his way home one day.

Really?

Jordan: Yeah, I was Bully #2, I think.

Was it a speaking role?

Jordan: It was, but we were just yelling shit at him. I don’t know. I was improv-ing, actually. I was living in the moment—
Robbie: (Laughs.) I was so present
Jordan: I was…
Robbie: —that I now can’t remember.
Jordan: … locked into Bully #2.

READ MORE:https://www.wmagazine.com/story/margot-robbie-michael-b-jordan-harley-quinn-killmonger

Blindspotting Official Trailer #1 (2018) Daveed Diggs Drama Movie HD

 

  • Collin (Daveed Diggs) must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning. He and his troublemaking childhood best friend, Miles (Rafael Casal), work as movers and are forced to watch their old neighborhood become a trendy spot in the rapidly gentrifying Bay Area. When a life-altering event causes Collin to miss his mandatory curfew, the two men struggle to maintain their friendship as the changing social landscape exposes their differences. Lifelong friends Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal co-wrote and star in this timely and wildly entertaining story about friendship and the intersection of race and class set against the backdrop of Oakland. Bursting with energy, style and humor, Blindspotting, boldly directed by Carlos López Estrada in his feature film debut, is a provocative hometown love letter that glistens with humanity.
  • West Oakland. Collin Hopkins, a black man who works for the Commander Moving Company as a mover, is a convicted felon on the last three days of his one year parole. Among the many restrictions contained within his parole are living in a halfway house which has its own additional rules, having curfew, not being allowed outside of Alameda County, and no possession of firearms, contravention of any of these items which could extend the length of his parole or worse send him back to prison. Collin, whose felony was largely a matter of unexpected circumstance, wants to do the right thing and lead a straight life. And despite having made it through the first three hundred sixty-two days of his parole, it isn’t a guarantee that he will make it to the end clear, let alone make to the end at all due to the environment in which he lives, which includes people like him of a lower socioeconomic standing having to adjust to the gentrification happening within the community. One of the larger threats is his association with Miles Jones, his married best friend since they were kids and his moving partner. Miles, a Caucasian, feels like he has something to prove being white and living in West Oakland, something that Collin inherently doesn’t have to prove being black. But what could be the biggest threat to Collin is being haunted in witnessing a white police officer shoot a fleeing black man to death in the back late in the evening of the third to last day of his parole, being shot for no reason by the police something that black people like Collin face every day. Through it all, Collin tries to negotiate his relationship with Val, his girlfriend before his incarceration and the dispatcher at Commander, she who is taking more outward steps to improve her life to match that gentrification which may not include associating personally with someone like Collin, especially in light of having seen the aftermath of what sent him to prison.

 

Shonda Rhimes, Jada Pinkett Smith, Gabrielle Union-Wade Sign on as Producers of Broadway’s ‘American Son’

The drama about systemic racism in America begins performances Oct. 6, starring Kerry Washington, Steven Pasquale, Eugene Lee and Jeremy Jordan.

RHIMESA handful of big names will bolster the ranks of Broadway producers for American Son, which marks Kerry Washington’s return to the New York stage. Shonda Rhimes, Jada Pinkett Smith, Gabrielle Union-Wade and her husband, NBA star Dwyane Wade, have joined an existing team that includes Washington’s Simpson Street, Jeffrey Richards, Rebecca Gold and Will Trice. Also newly on board is businessman Steve Stoute and NFL veteran-turned-actor and producer Nnamdi Asomugha, who is married to Washington.

The team of heavy hitters stands to draw added attention to Broadway newcomer Christopher Demos-Brown’s intense four-character drama set in a Florida police station, where an estranged married couple converge in the middle of the night in a desperate search for their missing 18-year-old biracial son.

The play examines how we deal with family relationships, love, loss and identity. It won the 2016 Laurents/Hatcher Award for best new work by an emerging playwright. READ MORE: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/shonda-rhimes-jada-pinkett-smith-gabrielle-union-wade-sign-as-producers-broadways-american-son-1146766