Clifton Powell and Paul Rodriguez - Clifton Powell, Trevor Wright and Paul Rodriguez Jr. New York City, USA - HBO presents the 'New York Intl. Latino Film Festival at the DGA Theatre' - Day 1 - Arrivals Tuesday 22nd July 2008
Hopes were high walking into Woman Thou Art Loosed. Here were a male screenwriter and a male director tackling under-acknowledged issues, led by an actress with amazing talent, Kimberly Elise (Beloved). The film starts with a powerful revival scene in which Elise walks in, straining to hold back a multitude of emotions as she pulls out a gun and shoots, we know not at what or whom, but whatever happened landed her in jail confessing to the very Reverend who led the town meeting.
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Foxx's tribute, solidified whenever he breaks into Charles' signature grin, goes beyond mimicry to find the soul of one of America's most gifted songwriters. You'll undoubtedly leave Ray talking about Foxx's career performance. The discussion may continue right up until Oscar night.
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Describing the plot for Never Die Alone is like eating tomato soup with a fork: It can be done, but Lord knows how. (The reason why a little later.) Rapper DMX, who also produced, plays King David, a drug dealer who returns to the East Coast hoping to make amends with his former boss, Moon (Clifton Powell). During a payoff involving two of Moon's thugs and King David, all hell breaks loose.
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As Frances Shepard (LisaRaye) enters Whitehead Correctional Institute -- a maximum-security prison for women -- she does not fit in with her fellow inmates, who are hardened criminals, drug-addicts, and murderers. She was a young mother and nurse, but after accidentally killing her abusive husband, she was convicted of murder. Fellow prisoner Little Momma (Lark Voorhies) -- 17 years old and pregnant, and also the prison's resident preacher -- quickly befriends and informs her that she's just joined the most lucrative businesses in the country: the prison industrial complex.
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Before its last-reel nosedive into bullpucky about a parallel world of the dead, the hip-hop horror flick "Bones" is gutsy, stylish and inventive.
Building on the foundation of a haunted house plot, director Ernest Dickerson mixes great B-movie goosebumps with a revenge fantasy that takes aim at how drug culture has overrun black neighborhoods turning them into ghettos.
He introduces a trio of young urban entrepreneurs who plan to renovate a long-abandoned, ominously cathedral-like brownstone in a bad neighborhood, opening it as a nightclub when they're done. But we know from the get-go that the deck is stacked against them. In the movie's opening scene, two white-bread frat boys looking to score dope get dragged into the place and gored by a red-eyed demon dog that the whole 'hood likes to pretend doesn't exist.
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"You know fellas, I've realized something here tonight. Maybe women aren't the problem. Maybe it's us."
With dialogue that insipid, do you really need to know anything more about "The Brothers" before running as fast as you can away from the movie theater?
An ironically misogynistic, "Waiting to Exhale"-style talker disguised as a male-oriented buddy picture, "The Brothers" is the latest in a string of predictable films about yuppie African-American guys in Hugo Boss suits slowing getting it through their thick skulls that maybe being a player isn't what life's all about. (Think "The Wood," "The Best Man.")
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After writing and starring in the funny homeboys-and-hemp comedies "Friday" and "Next Friday," rapper-actor Ice Cube isn't quite out of ripe screwball ideas, but "Friday After Next" spreads them pretty thin. In fact, the "Pink Panther"-styled cartoon opening credits are the biggest laugh in the movie.
Story proper begins with slapstick cousins Craig (Cube) and Day-Day (Mike Epps) back in Compton after spending the last film in the suburbs. Desperate for rent money after a "ghetto Santa" breaks into their apartment at Christmas time, swiping presents and cash, the guys take seasonal security jobs at a dilapidated strip mall where their grumpy, squabbling dads (John Witherspoon and Don "D.C." Curry) have a barbecue joint.
Armed with nothing but a second-hand uniform and a whistle, thickwit Day-Day thinks he's suddenly a supercop, rousting church-lady carolers for loitering, but running away from gangbangers when he rubs them the wrong way. Meanwhile Craig has his eye on a drop-dead gorgeous salesgirl (K.D. Aubert) at the strip's new clothing outlet, Pimps & Hos. (Other stores include Holy Moly Donuts, check cashing, liquor and 94-cent stores, and Toyz in the Hood.)
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"Never Die Alone" opens with an overhead, open-casket coffin shot of a pimp and pusher who called himself "King David," and with the dead man's salvation-seeking voice-over in which he muses, "If I had it to do all over again...."
But aside from paying back a fat chunk of money he stole from a drug kingpin some 10 years before, there's not a scrap of evidence in the rest of the film that this guy has any regrets -- even though he continues his insincere chin-wagging about redemption throughout.
Towering, tough and handsome rapper DMX plays King, and he's so good in the role that he probably had to shower twice a day during the shoot just to keep his conscience clean. But since King spends his every scene of this told-in-flashback story earning that pine box and then some, it's more than a little contemptible that the character comes off as some cool, suave, mack-daddy fact of life.
Continue reading: Never Die Alone Review
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