Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire had its gala screening at the Toronto International Film Festival and in attendance was director Lee Daniels, actors Paula Patton, Sherri Shepherd, Mariah Carey and newcomer Gabby Sidibe, and of course, executive producers Tyler Perry and Oprah. Mary J. Blige, who wrote the song “I Can See In Color” on the movie’s soundtrack, and Sapphire, author of Push, were also in attendance for the screening. Lucky for me, I had the opportunity to not only see them on stage to introduce the film, but also watch this incredibly powerful movie before it was released into theatres nationwide. Now the winner of TIFF’s People’s Choice Award!
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)
Dear Zachary is a powerful documentary by Kurt Kuenne, whose sole intent for creating the film was to memorialize his murdered best friend. But as the story unfolds, the film evolves into so much more. At its premise, Dear Zachary is about how one man’s life was needlessly and viciously taken away from his loved ones, an act that we later on learn was entirely preventable, had the system been more stringent. There are moments of joy, moments of anger and moments that will leave you in tears. Word of advice: have a box of tissues handy. It’ll also make you wonder why. Why did the system fail, and so tremendously so, causing innocent lives to be lost?
Sex and the City the Movie (2008)
Four years ago, our New York City foursome in Manolo Blahniks, Jimmy Choos and, well quite frankly, all the designer shoe labels that I can barely afford without leaving me in the poor house, left our television screens. Or at least left our screens in the new episodes sense, because I’m sure many of us have been watching reruns or re-watching episodes on DVD since then. Lo and behold, the Sex and the City feature film was announced, then filming started happening all around New York City, pictures started turning up all over the web, and I (along with the legion of other SaTC fans) began anxiously awaiting the release of the movie.
Coopers’ Camera (2008)
Coopers’ Camera, which premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, is a film brimming with Canadian talent. It’s written by The Daily Show‘s Jason Jones and Billable Hours‘ Mike Beaver and directed by Warren P. Sonoda. It was also filmed in Canada. But don’t let all the “Canadian-ness” scare you, it’s not a film with obscure references about Canadian culture (nor do Mounties make an appearance). Coopers’ Camera happens to tell the comedic story of family dysfunctional in a universal way.
Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007)
Followers of my blog (all two of you!) may remember my previously voiced criticism and discontent over news of the live-action adaptation of Alvin and the Chipmunks. I understand the dilemma of trying to remold something that was popular many years ago to something that bears relevance to the culture and society of today, while still trying to keep the “essence” of that thing in tact. But what can I say? It’s a segment of my childhood that is so ingrained into my memories that the mere thought of Hollywood potentially ruining the formerly popular franchise was just exasperating and yet, I’m guilty to admit, somewhat intriguing. I wanted to see what they came up with and if my worst fears would come true.
The Bridge (2006)
The Bridge is a controversial film that documents the “suicide phenomenon” at The Golden Gate Bridge. In the span of January through December 2004, filmmaker Eric Steel continously filmed this bridge, known to be a mecca of sorts for those who want to end their lives, and was able to capture 23 of 24 suicides on film. It features real footage from these real suicides and suicide attempts, along with interviews with grieving family members, friends and witnesses to those suicides. The keyword here is “real”. It’s unlike comfortably watching a Hollywood movie with its professional stunts as a detached viewer, knowing it is all “just for show”. At first glance, it sounds kind of morbid and in many ways, it is. We are, after all, witnessing the final moments of someone’s life and this is all presented as a form of entertainment. But there seems to be some morbid curiosity innate in all of us, a curiosity about death, and this film really addresses that curiosity.
Hollywood: Ruining One Childhood Memory at a Time
I’ve known about the movie development of popular, classic cartoon from the 80s (and, originally, the 50s) Alvin and the Chipmunks for awhile now. Upon seeing the first poster, with its image of our beloved chipmunks “hip-hop-ified”, which is a strange sight in itself, I was apprehensive about this news of a Hollywood adaptation of a cartoon that has been so entrenched into my childhood memories.
Shut Up and Sing (2006)
You might remember, back in 2003, the huge uproar caused by one Dixie Chick’s dissenting words against George W. Bush. Words from one single person said in jest in a London concert made its way overseas and back home resulting in huge controversy. Treason, they called it. Un-American! Traitors! Every single adjective and noun related to unpatriotism was slung against the group. This was in the days before the anticipated invasion of Iraq. It was a time when approval ratings for “Dubya” was high and patriotism was in full swing.
The Boys of Baraka (2005)
The Boys of Baraka is an inspiring documentary that follows the lives of four 12 to 13 year old boys from the, quite literally, “urban ghettos” of Baltimore, Maryland. It’s an area inundated with crime and poverty but even amidst such hardships and with all the odds stacked up against them, these four boys have hopes and dreams that transpire above it all. Aspiring for more than what Baltimore and its educational system can offer them, they are offered an opportunity of a lifetime.
An opportunity to study abroad at the Baraka School in Kenya, East Africa for two years.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
The much buzzed about Little Miss Sunshine, with its numerous nominations and critical praise, is a movie that doesn’t really fit into any conventional mould. Its premise is about a little girl named Olive Hoover (Abigail Breslin) and her dysfunctional family trekking from New Mexico to California in a yellow Volkswagen van to make it to a beauty pageant in two days. And hijinks and hilarity ensues.