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New Drama Of 'Dark Obsessions' From Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Films


Oprah Winfrey Kate Forte Alan Ball

Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films are developing a new drama in conjunction with HBO. As yet untitled, the show will tell the tale of the first black president of a liberal arts club, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The central character is “thrust into national headlines,” along with his family, “forcing them to present an idyllic public façade, all while engaging in agonizing personal battles and struggling with dark obsessions.”

The exact nature of those dark obsessions, of course, is not for us to know, just yet but we’re excited to watch the show take shape. The playwright Thomas Bradshaw (The Bereaved, Southern Promises, Dawn) is on board as a writer and to act as an executive producer, alongside Oprah herself and Harpo’s Kate Forte. Bradshaw, 32, is already the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and is a professor at Northwestern.

Continue reading: New Drama Of 'Dark Obsessions' From Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Films

The Great Debaters Review


OK
Told with the against-all-odds mentality reserved for most underdog tales, Denzel Washington's The Great Debaters -- inspired by a true story -- recounts how a plucky debate team from all-black Wiley College systematically defeated anyone who dared oppose them until they earned an impossible title shot against the scholars of Harvard University.

Washington, who also directs, plays Melvin Tolson, a hard-nosed instructor who, in 1935, coaches his co-ed team through racially motivated obstacles while simultaneously protecting a secret that threatens to derail his team's historic run. A self-righteous leader, Tolson fills his vessels with the knowledge that a proper education is their lone ticket to a balanced life. The school's president, played with stubborn dignity by Forest Whitaker, echoes this credo in quiet scenes with his son, who happens to be on Tolson's team. "We do what we have to do," the educator exclaims, "so we can do what we want to do." Part of Tolson's method is to drill mantras into his debaters' skulls. The judge is God. Their opponents do not matter. And the only way they will succeed is by telling the truth.

Continue reading: The Great Debaters Review

Tuesdays With Morrie Review


Good
I didn't read Mitch Albom's book, Tuesdays With Morrie, which spent about two jillion years on the bestseller lists. But based on the movie, I can see why so many people bought the book and why it's ripe for criticism.

As Brandeis University professor Morrie Schwartz's body deteriorated from Lou Gehrig's Disease, former student Albom decided to record the man's thoughts on an array of topics. If the movie is anything like the book, then Morrie sounds like the world's foremost pop psychologist.

Continue reading: Tuesdays With Morrie Review

Beloved Review


Bad
Long-awaited before its release, most viewers of Beloved have tried to forget the multi-hour ordeal of a train wreck that their beloved Toni Morrison novel became on the big screen. As befits any Oprah pet project, Beloved the movie is indulgent, egocentric to its star (Winfrey, of course), heavy-handed, and sanctimonious. The story of emancipated slave Sethe (Winfrey), her daughter Denver and the drooling, gibbering zombie named Beloved (Thandie Newton, in a role that is as embarrassing as it is horrific) is somehow simplistic and utterly nonsensical at the same time. Director Jonathan Demme is also at fault for failing to exhibit even a modicum of restraint in making this film. After 3 hours of excrutiating torture on screen (costumes and set design aside), you'll probably agree with me that the worst thing about Beloved is that it's simply too long. By about 3 hours.
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