All Articles Tagged "Quentin Tarantino"
In an op-ed piece for The Hollywood Reporter, director John Singleton spoke about the problem with black stories in Hollywood being told without the help of black folks behind the scenes, and particularly, black directors being an afterthought. In recent years, white directors have been bringing to life a lot of the big films that have done well at the box office, and while Singleton lauded the movies that got it right (Taylor Hackford directing Ray, Norman Jewison for The Hurricane, and recently, Brian Helgeland’s 42), he shared some inquisitive thoughts about the importance of black folks being the behind the scenes to authentically share the stories of our icons and our people in general. Here are some tidbits from the piece that definitely stood out:
Hollywood’s black film community has always had a one-for-all-and-all-for-one attitude, openly cheering the success of any black-driven movie in the hope its box-office success will translate into more jobs and stories about people of color. But, at the same time, the success of black-themed movies like The Help and this year’s 42 points to a troubling trend: the hiring of white filmmakers to tell black stories with few African-Americans involved in the creative process.
What if the commercial success of “black films” like 42 and The Help, which also had a white director, are now making it harder rather than easier for African-American writers and directors to find work?
That is exactly what people in certain Hollywood circles are debating. When I brought up the issue with a screenwriter friend, he replied, “It’s simple. Hollywood feels like it doesn’t need us anymore to tell African-American stories.” The thinking goes, “We voted for and gave money to Obama, so [we don't need to] hire any black people.”
…I could go on and on about the white directors who got it right and others who missed the mark. But my larger point is that there was a time, albeit very brief, when heroic black figures were the domain of black directors, and when a black director wasn’t hired, the people behind the film at least brought on a black producer for his or her creative input and perspective. Spielberg did that on The Color Purple(Quincy Jones) and Amistad (Debbie Allen). Tarantino had Reggie Hudlin on Django Unchained.
…But now, that’s changing; several black-themed movies are in development with only white filmmakers attached, including a James Brown biopic. That’s right, the story of “Soul Brother No. 1, Mr. Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” is being penned by two Brits for Tate Taylor, director of The Help…it gives one pause that someone is making a movie about the icon who laid down the foundation of funk, hip-hop and black economic self-reliance with no African-American involvement behind the scenes. One of Brown’s most famous lines was, “I don’t want nobody to give me nothing; open up the door and I’ll get it myself.” How is that possible when the gatekeepers of this business keep the doors mostly locked shut in Hollywood?
What Hollywood execs need to realize is that black-themed stories appeal to the mainstream because they are uniquely American. Our story reminds audiences of struggles and triumphs, dreams and aspirations we all share. And it is only by conveying the particulars of African-American life that our narrative become universal. But making black movies without real participation by black filmmakers is tantamount to cooking a pot of gumbo without the “roux.” And if you don’t know offhand what “roux” is, you shouldn’t be making a black film.
Of course, the usual audience for The Hollywood Reporter (predominately white folks) gave Singleton’s piece the thumbs down, but he makes some very honest points that black folks have been talking about for years. I don’t even have to always have a black director behind a major film (because directing is not for everybody), but the concept of doing a black story with no black people involved definitely sounds preposterous. But what do you think?
Check out his full piece over at THR.
I could say, “I know what you’re thinking, we’re still talking about Django??” But then again, you clicked so you’re probably interested. Though the movie was cast, filmed, put on DVD and Blu-Ray, won a few Academy Awards (including for Best Original Screenplay for Quentin Tarantino), the question was most recently posed by Entertainment Weekly as to why Will Smith, who was one of the first actors Tarantino allegedly met with for the film, passed on the opportunity to play the title character. His decline made room for Academy-Award winner Jamie Foxx to come through and embody (and kill) the role.
According to Shadow And Act, while Smith was a big fan of the screenplay, he once told media that he couldn’t do the film because he was working on Men in Black III, and didn’t have the time to sit with Tarantino to discuss and hash out different issues he had with the movie. However, he went in depth with EW and basically said that Django, despite the title of the movie, wasn’t the lead character. Therefore, Smith wasn’t trying to play second fiddle to anybody, including Christoph Waltz, who of course won an Academy Award for his role as Dr. King Schultz, the Best Supporting Actor role actually:
“Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead!”
“Smith says that before he left the project, he even pleaded with Tarantino to let Django have a more central role in the story. “I was like, ‘No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!’”
“But no hard feelings: Smith was a big fan of the final product. “I thought it was brilliant,” he says. “Just not for me.”
While some would definitely say that Django was the lead, Smith might have a point. And did anybody else notice that come awards time, there really wasn’t much conversation or talk surrounding Foxx (who didn’t pick up any of the big nominations from the Golden Globes, Bafta, Screen Actors Guild or Academy Awards), but rather, just Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio? But either way, as Smith said, the role of Django just wasn’t working for him, and in the end, the role ended up in the right hands, so clearly there’s no love lost for anybody. But what we can learn from all this is that when it comes to Will Smith, he’s earned leading man status (see those box office numbers) and he’s not taking anything less than that. Not mad at him!
What do you think of Smith’s reasoning behind passing on the movie? Does he make a good point?
Quentin Tarantino sparked something quite interesting or just beat all other filmmakers to the punch.
Seven more ‘slave’ themed films are scheduled to premiere this year. One IdieWire.com writer speculates Hollywood is on a celebratory kick, commemorating the 150-year anniversary of the Civil War.
Read more at EurWeb.com.
‘What Would Django Do?’: Controversial Pro-Gun Group Attempts To Win Over Minorities With New Campaign
Just last Sunday, controversial pro-gun organization Political Media sponsored Gun Appreciation Day, which was a day where the group encouraged people to show up at various public places with the United States Constitution in-hand and signs that read “Hands of my guns”. Now, according to the Hollywood Reporter, the group is launching a new campaign, which they hope will win African-Americans over in the gun control debate entitled, “What Would Django Do?” Yes, “What Would Django Do?”
Political Media president, Larry Ward is not only launching a campaign, but also a nonprofit organization with the same name. He revealed that he has not been granted permission by The Weinstein Co., which is the studio behind the production of Django Unchained or Quentin Tarantino to bear the Django name. This isn’t too surprising considering that Tarantino has gone on record stating that firearms are to blame for the tragic Newtown school shooting.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Ward says of his unauthorized use of the name.”We’ll make sure we aren’t violating copyrights, and if we are, we’ll have to change the name. But Django is perfect for what we’re trying to do, which is to promote gun rights to minorities. We’ll tackle the issue on the Democrats’ own turf.”
Ward is partnering with columnist Jonathan David Farley, who recently penned an article published to Absoluterights.com entitled What Would Django Do? Arms And ‘The Man’ in which he discussed why Blacks should shun gun control and expressed that Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Malcolm X were all in some way, shape or form in support of the second amendment.
“Racism in America is now gone like an exorcized ghost, but African-Americans would do well to remember our history when it comes to gun control,” wrote Farley.
Racism is gone? No comment.
It’s interesting that Ward and his organization think that all they have to do is slap Django on a campaign and it will somehow woo Blacks into joining the ranks of the pro-gun supporters.
What do you make of all of this?
Jazmine Denise is a news writer for Madame Noire. Follow her on Twitter @jazminedenise
Django Unchained continues its roll. First the Quentin Tarantino film proved to be a box office hit in the States, now it is controlling the movie theaters overseas. The flick starring Jamie Foxx came in at number one at foreign box office this weekend, raking in $48 million. Even heavy snow in Europe couldn’t keep folks away from seeing the movie.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Django made its overseas debut in 54 markets. The Best Picture Oscar contender also topped Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds on the foreign theatrical circuit. Sony, which handled Tarantino’s movie overseas, estimated that Django opened 30 percent ahead of Inglourious Basterds.
Django opened atop the box office in at least 23 markets including the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, and Poland, reports the magazine. In Germany, it earned an impressive $9.6 million at 620 sites; the take in France was $7.3 million from 612 theaters; in Russia it had a box office worth $5.4 million from 936 movie houses; $4.8 million at 580 U.K. sites; $4.3 million at 517 venues in Italy; and $3.3 million at 470 theaters in Spain. It would be interesting to hear what these different international audiences have to say about the movie.
Have you seen it yet?
Spike Lee Is A ‘Conniving And Scheming Uncle Tom’: Luke Campbell Reacts To ‘Django Unchained’ Comments
Feelings were mixed when Do The Right Thing director, Spike Lee spoke out against Quentin Tarantino’s latest blockbuster Django Unchained. No one was in complete shock that Lee openly admitted that he couldn’t get with the slavery revenge flick, as he is known for being quite outspoken and opinionated. But, his reasoning behind not supporting the film shocked many. Lee claimed that he refused to even see the Quentin Tarantino directed film because it would be “disrespectful” to his “ancestors” in an interview with Vibe. Most people simply wrote the comments off as Spike being Spike and some even publicly defended Tarantino against the Red Hook Summer director. The most interesting rebuttal came from Luther Campbell of the infamous 2 Live Crew. The Florida native went completely off on Spike, giving him a complete mouthful for his Django comments in an opinion piece for the Miami NewTimes and let’s just say he was not above name calling.
First, he implied that Spike’s sole reason for disliking the film was because he didn’t direct it and that he is envious because Tarantino is a better director:
“Lee needs to get over himself. He’s upset because Tarantino makes better movies. The man who put Malcolm X on the big screen is Hollywood’s resident house negro; a bougie activist who wants to tell his fellow white auteurs how they can and can’t depict African Americans.”
“Lee could never pull off a movie like this. When he’s not being an A$$ from his court side seats during New York Knicks games, he’s making bull crap films that most African Americans cannot relate to.”
He then defended Tarantino’s heavy n-word usage in the film, stating that it was somewhat necessary to make the movie realistic:
“He complains that Tarantino uses “n*****” too much (100 times) in Django Unchained, but show me a white man in the 1800s who wasn’t dropping n-bombs left and right.”
And finally, he called Lee out as a “Uncle Tom” and compared him Sam Jackson’s character in Django Unchained:
“Spike is upset because Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the movie is just like him: a conniving and scheming Uncle Tom.”
If you’ve had the privilege of seeing the movie or even a preview of it, you know how much of an insult this is.
Do you agree with Luke? Is Spike Lee being a hater?
Jazmine Denise is a news writer for Madame Noire. Follow her on Twitter @jazminedenise
Celebration! “Beasts of The Southern Wild” Star Quvenzhané Wallis Is Youngest Best Actress Oscar Nominee Ever At 9
While you were sleeping, Academy Award nominations were being announced this morning (and we’re talking EARLY since it’s still early as I type this), and out of all the nominees, snubs and surprises, the nomination that has us most excited is the one little Quvenzhané Wallis received for her role in the movie, Beasts of the Southern Wild. She is up for the Best Actress Oscar, pitting her against seasoned actresses and “It girls” like Jennifer Lawrence, Naomi Watts and Jessica Chastain (ya’ll remember her as the lovable ditzy wife from The Help?). Wallis is now the youngest woman–er, young lady, to be nominated in the Best Actress category ever, at just nine years old. What in the hell was I doing at nine???
If you missed out on Beasts of the Southern Wild, an extraordinarily touching piece of work, Wallis plays six-year-old Hushpuppy, an optimistic and independent child thanks to her father, Wink, a single dad who teaches her how to be able to fend for herself. So much so that he can come off kind of cruel. It also helps that teachers at her school teach the local children how to prepare for the arrival of a prehistoric creature called an Auroch, which plays a big part in the movie. After a storm hits and the life around her starts to crumble, Hushpuppy is forced to put everything she’s taught to good use and goes in search of her long-lost mother, who she pined for in a majority of the movie.
I’m so happy to see not only this little girl, but this movie receive its just dues from the Academy. I was shocked to find that the Golden Globes and other big awards shows didn’t nominate Wallis, the director, Behn Zeitlin, or the movie as a whole, so I was expecting a big snub like Pariah received last year. But someone must have wised up because Wallis will be sitting pretty on Oscar night, as well as Zeitlin, who was nominated for Best Director and for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the movie received a Best Picture nom. Please check out this gem of a film if you can find it, because it is available on DVD. I had the opportunity to check out it sometime last year, and was blown away by this little lady, as well as by how visually emanate the film was at all times. If you didn’t know Quvenzhané’s name already, it will be stuck in your head now! Congrats!
And on a side note, congratulations are also in order for Denzel Washington once again, who has been nominated in the Best Actor category for his role in Flight, another amazing film. And Django Unchained received a Best Picture nomination (and Best Original Screenplay for Quentin Tarantino), though Christoph Waltz was the only actor from the film nominated. I know Leo DiCaprio is somewhere fuming…Big ups to all!
Celebrity brands are big business. They’re the stories that drive the drama on reality shows and let fans know what to expect. Some famous folk have made their name by being scandalous and messy, others have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. But whether they’re chosen or earned, there are some celebrity brands that we just can’t get behind.
Karrine Steffans-McCrary: Sleeping Your Way to the Top
Supahead’s “fame” started the trend of women “coming up” by taking it off for videos, strip club audiences, rappers and basketball players and I personally can’t wait until sisters find another way to make names for themselves.
The relevance of Django Unchained has been debated by African Americans (and others) on social media for the last month. While some people are eager to see the Quentin Tarantino film that centers around the issue of slavery, others voiced concern over the use of the N-word (100-plus times during the movie). Still others outright panned the flick before it had even hit the theaters. (Looking at you Spike Lee.)
Despite or because of the social media debate, African Americans have turned out in droves to see The Weinstein Company (TWC) film, starring Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington, when it opened on Christmas Day.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that 42 percent of Django‘s initial audience was black, according to exit polling data. “TWC estimates that the percentage now is holding steady at about 30 percent, while a look at the top-performing theaters for Django further confirms that it has crossed over, playing to both white and black moviegoers,” according to THR.
“[African American turned out] because of the hype around the film. There are certain segments of the African-American community that want to be associated with what’s perceived to be ‘hot’ or ‘in’ without any consideration given to the actual merit of the project,” says Gil Robertson IV, founder of the African American Film Critics Association. “Now in this case, although Django was not at the top of my list of things to do over the holidays, I think the interest in the film is good if seeing the film will inspire more African Americans to have healthy dialogue on the history of race and slavery in America.”
According to THR, three of the top ten theaters currently showing Django Unchained draw a mostly black crowd: the Cinemark Egyptian 24 in Baltimore, the AMC Hoffman Center in Alexandria, VA, and the AMC Southlake 24 in Atlanta. Two of the theaters draw a mixed crowd: the AMC Empire 25 in New York City and the Regal Atlantic Stadium 16, also in Atlanta.
Thus far the movie has grossed $77.8 million in North America, and THR speculates that it may just become Tarantino’s most successful film at the domestic box office, passing the $120 million earned by Inglourious Basterds in 2009.
And it seems that both black and white audiences gave the film good reviews. TWC tested Django by holding two simultaneous screenings in New York. “One audience was made up of African Americans, while the other was a mixed audience (about 15 percent was African American). The film received top, identical scores from the two audiences,” writes THR.
Have you seen Django Unchained yet?
When I first saw the trailer for Django Unchained, I just knew that we would be embarking on months of debate–It was just a matter of waiting to see who would start it.
And then Spike Lee said this:
‘‘I can’t speak on it ’cause I’m not gonna see it… All I’m going to say is that it’s disrespectful to my ancestors. That’s just me… I’m not speaking on behalf of anybody else.”
I hear ya, but sorry Spike, as well as those calling for a boycott of the film, because I saw the film opening day. While I can’t speak for the other few dozen or so black folks who saw Django, but a film about a black person taking revenge on an evil slave master sure sounds like a hell of a good time to me. If it is any consolation, I saw it for a discounted price at the matinee and I didn’t get extra butter on my popcorn – although I did have Raisinets…
Not giving too much of the film away, I thought the movie was all right. I give the film points for not following the standard stereotypes, which always seem to befall black characters in cinema. And it was interesting to see a white guy play buddy/sidekick to a black main character for once. However, many of the other characters seemed cartoonish, particularly Leonardo DiCaprio, who at any moment I kind of expected to see twirling his evil, diabolical mustache. And don’t forget Sam Jackson’s character, who was giving us a live action version of Uncle Ruckus from The Boondocks. And parts of the story, particularly the action scenes and violence, felt rushed and anti-climatic. No shotgun up the butt, à la I Spit on your Grave? No metal rod through the body, as seen in The Woman? Not even a spike bat to the gonads (like Boaw!) as told in an intro to Method Man? This film, which billed itself as a hard-to-watch revenge film, could have been a bit more creative. I mean, the fate of the overseer, who whipped you and your lady to the point of permanent scarring, is in your hands! Take your time and beat him ’til we can at least see the white meat.
Halfway through Django, I began imagining how different this film might have been had a black writer/director actually made it. But then I started thinking, well, why aren’t we making more films like Django?
In an interview with the Guardian UK, Reginald Hudlin and Quentin Tarantino, co-writers and producers of Django, were very vocal about the passivity, which often arises in stories centered around black enslavement here in America, taking particular issue with the made-for-TV miniseries, Roots, which was based off of the book by Alex Haley. From the article:
“One thing both men agreed on was a scene in Roots that served as an example of what not to do in Django Unchained. The last act of the final episode features the character Chicken George being given the opportunity to beat his slave master and owner in much the same way he’d been punished and tormented. In the end the character chooses not to so he can be “the bigger man.”
“Bulls–t,” exclaim both Tarantino and Hudlin in unison as they discuss the absurdity of the scene. “No way he becomes the bigger man at that moment,” says Tarantino. “The powers that be during the ’70s didn’t want to send the message of revenge to African-Americans. They didn’t want to give black people any ideas. But anyone knows that would never happen in that situation. And in Django Unchained we make that clear.”
Considering the repercussions, which were bound to happen to not just you, but anyone of the same hue as you, Hudlin and Tarantino might be indulging in a little Monday morning slave-quarterbacking on that one. However, I do have to admit to having a visceral reaction to watching Chicken George and his clan knee-slapping, dancing and fiddling their way away from slavery in the last scene. I didn’t feel satisfied or hopeful. I just felt sad.
For some reason, our cinema is passionate about black folks taking the higher road – even if it is an imaginary road. Even in Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna, a largely fictional story about four black American soldiers fighting Nazis in Italy during World War II, sure they were heroes, but they were heroes who died saving white people from other white people — oh, and in the midst of fighting over a white woman. And that’s no shade to Lee. After all, he did give us the movie Malcolm X. But while I am both well-aware and vocal about Hollywood’s misrepresentation of us in film and television, there is something to be said about the kinds of stories we tell ourselves, even when it is not financed by the system.
Over the summer, I showed the first two episodes of Black Panther, the animated series, to a number of neighborhood children at an event I was hosting through work. Basically, the cartoon, which is based off the Marvel comic of the same name, is about a fictional African king of some made up African country, who protects his people from imperialism, colonization and white supremacy. Despite the series being a few years old, this was the first time that any of the children had ever heard of the show – let alone the Black Panther comic strip. Even though the series featured some A-list black actors, the show only ran one season in Australia and was largely unavailable to American audiences. And despite co-producing it with Reginald Hudlin, BET even passed on airing the show for a few years, claiming that it was “too male.” However, watching how engrossed these children were at the series, as well as the collective moan, which occurred when the two episodes finished, I realized the importance of seeing defiant, self-motivated heroes.
It is a bit monotonous seeing ourselves as only victim or somebody else’s martyr. I’m tired of the black man being the first killed in horror films. I’m tired of watching films where the purpose of the black female character is to be the crying shoulder or literally cleaning up the mess of white women. I’m tired of watching films where black men sacrifice themselves so that the white protagonist can then go on and save the world/share the story/be the hero. Black people have survival instincts too. And most importantly, I’m tired of our only purpose in films being to teach white folks how to love/be peaceful/gain some understanding and practice tolerance. F**k that Green Mile bulls**t. My life is not for the purpose of their self-discovery.
Black people had – and in lots of other ways still continue to have – a moral and political right to rebel. And throughout history, there are plenty of real stories in which we were willing and did resist. Like the 25 enslaved black men armed with guns and clubs, who burned houses and killed nine white folks in New York City; and Gabriel Prosser and his brother Martin, who recruited over a thousand enslaved blacks for a major rebellion in Virginia; and the 300 fugitive black slaves, who fought alongside Native Americans in a battle with U.S. Army troops in Florida; and the Maroons of Jamaica and Surinam; and all the untold stories of the ancestors who escaped through the underground railroad. We need the younger generation, particularly those caught up in the frays of violence and poverty and dealing with self-esteem issues based around race, to know that in addition to fictional stories about being patriotic soldiers for America’s interest and surviving as the help, we were also were The Spook Who Sat by the Door.
One of the most poignant scenes in the film came actually in the first few minutes, when Dr. King Schultz, who is played by Christoph Waltz, comes upon white slave traders transporting Django as well as half a dozen other enslaved black men to the auction. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that there is a commotion, one of the traders dies and the other is trapped under a horse. After freeing Django, Dr. Schultz turns to the other enslaved black men and give them an option; you can either free the trader from under the horse and carry him back to the nearest town or you could kill him, bury him deep and escape to “one of the fairer parts of the country.” I’m not going to tell you what the men decided to do, but let’s just say, Chicken George wouldn’t have been fiddling.
A bit of self-referential irony is that without Dr. Schultz’s intervention, Django would have been gone to the slave auction. And probably if it had been anybody else black directing the film, this movie probably would not have been made to begin with. And why is that? I know that there has been talk for a couple of years of a big budget action film based around the life of Toussaint L’ Ouverture, whose slave rebellion sparked the Haitian Revolution. Actor Danny Glover is producing the film, with a little (11 million dollars) assistance from Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, and according to the film’s IMDb page, the film is slated for release in 2013. However, in a recent interview, Glover would not give a definite release date, and he admitted that the film, which had names like Angela Bassett, Wesley Snipes and Mos Def attached, hasn’t even started shooting. I don’t know what the hold-up is, but when Glover gets that together, I too will be first in line, opening day, with my popcorn and Raisinets. And I’ll even splurge for extra butter.