Friday, August 31, 2012

Think Like A Man - Review


Directed by Tim Story

Produced by William Packer, Glenn S. Gainor, Rob Hardy, Steve Harvey, & Rushion McDonald

Written by Keith Merryman & David A. Newman (Based on the book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey)

Cinematography by Larry Blanford

Released: April 20, 2012 (USA)

Kevin Hart as Cedric
Michael Ealy as Dominic
Taraji P. Henson as Lauren
Romany Malco as Zeke
Meagan Good as Mya
Regina Hall as Candace
Terrence J as Michael
Gabrielle Union as Kristen
Jerry Ferrara as Jeremy
Steve Harvey as Himself

As a rule I don’t watch too many romantic comedies or as they are want to be called “rom coms”. Not that I’m against a good romantic comedy, it’s just that they always seem to come off as false, predictable and otherwise maudlin. When I do find one that hits all the right notes I sure recommend it and Think Like A Man is such a film.

Kevin Hart in Think Like A Man
While it definitely follows the rom com playbook, it offered many fresh and innovative takes. The freshest take is the mirthful humor of Kevin Hart. I didn’t know how the stand up comic would fit in in a comedic acting performance, but he did and was hilarious! I didn’t think he would steal every scene he was in, but he did.

The film also found clever ways to introduce Steve Harvey into the film, which at times seemed like an infomercial, but it still somehow works especially when the book is integral to the plot.

In an ensemble comedy there is/are always someone/some people of that ensemble that you don’t really care about, but I liked everyone in the ensemble (all mentioned above) and their romantic pairings.

Michael Ealy and Taraji P. Henson in Think Like A Man
I read on the Nother Brother Twitter account (@NotherBrother) that Taraji P. Henson as “Lauren” and Michael Ealy as “Dominic” had great chemistry and they did! No matter the script, if you can’t find two actors with chemistry in a romantic story all is lost. Fortunately that was not the case here.

Romany Malco and Meagan Good in Think Like A Man 
Even though I liked all the pairings, my favorite was Romany Malco as “Zeke” and Meagan Good as “Mya”. They both gave really great performances which led to them becoming a standout couple for me.

I was pleasantly surprised at how good this picture was and definitely one of the funniest and most enjoyable films I’ve seen this year.

Since Think Like A Man’s release in April, I’ve been reading about its fantastic box office success.
Think Like a Man grossed over $33.7 million during its opening weekend, an accomplishment which ended The Hunger Games' four-week run at the #1 spot at the U.S. box office. The romantic comedy film remained on top of the competition during its second week as well, edging out new releases to bring in a still-impressive $17.6 million.

As of June 24, 2012, Think Like a Man has earned $95,326,341 in both the United States and Canada, along with $3,779,136 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $99,105,477. The movie's production budget was $12.5 million.

As of today August 31, 2012 the worldwide gross is $95,722,698 (Sources: Box Office Mojo, MTV News & CNN Entertainment)
I also posted here on the ‘Nother Brother Entertainment blog a link to a great interview the producer of the film Will Packer did right after its release, that laid out his marketing plan for the picture that led to its box office success.

It should come as no surprise then that on June 28, 2012 Screen Gems announced plans for a sequel to be made of the film, with the original screenwriters Keith Merryman and David A. Newman also writing its script. No director, title, nor release date has been given. (Los Angeles Times)

I think the main attribute of the film’s success was that it was you know…actually good. Sometimes a film CAN succeed without a large and well financed marketing plan just for being good. Congratulations to the studio Rainforest Films. (Our congrats on our Facebook page)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Cinematography of 'Red Hook Summer'

One of the things I was amazed at in the newest Spike Lee Joint Red Hook Summer was the cinematography. 

Poster for Red Hook Summer
Red Hook Summer is a film written and directed by Spike Lee, his sixth in the "Chronicles of Brooklyn" series following She's Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Crooklyn, Clockers and He Got Game. The film was released on August 10, 2012 in the select theatres of the New York City area and was released in other parts of the northeast United States on August 24, 2012. —Wikipedia
Spike said in The Hollywood Reporter "I'd just bought this Sony camera, an F3, and I said, "We've got the means and ways and have to make do. " 

I don't what know type of lens he used (it's all about the lens yo), but the film really looked good! Well the lighting also plays a part in making a film look good as well.

To that end I want to *APPLAUD*  the all around great cinematography by Kerwin DeVonish (pictured below) in REAL locations! 

Kerwin DeVonish
Like many low budget films, everything in Red Hook Summer was shot on location and DeVonish did an awesome job of lighting up and shooting in those locations especially the small church and Red Hook projects apartment the main character lived in. Stills from some of those scenes pictured below.

As a filmmaker I'm always fascinated by the technique of films. I'm even fascinated by the cameras as indicated by my post about the Olympics DiveCam. LOL. 

Besides wanting to see this Spike Lee film, excuse me "Joint", I've been reading about for over a year, I wanted to see how the film would LOOK on such a low budget and this camera Spike bought to shoot it with. 

Seth Shire of the blog Unpaid Film Critic said “Red Hook Summer” has been nicely photographed by cinematographer Kerwin DeVonish.  The movie has been digitally photographed and has an eye popping color palette." I couldn't agree more. 

The colors in Red Hook Summer POPPED. The cinematographer is responsible for creating this look through lighting and lenses. Again DeVonish did a great job doing this. Those apartment scenes and the church scenes were very small locations that didn't look like it allowed enough room to rig lights, but DeVonish did it—to great effect.

You can read more about the Sony F3 camera by clicking the picture below

You can check out Kerwin DeVonish's IMDb profile here

CLICK the button below to read all the news posts about Red Hook Summer at our Sista blog Cool Black Media

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tony Scott (1944 – 2012)

Listen, I’m not going to go and say that Tony Scott (pictured above) was one of my favorite directors because he has passed away. I can say that I had tremendous respect for his body of work and I can call him an auteur…something I don’t say about many directors.

Because I’m a Denzel Washington fan, I have seen every Denzel Washington/Tony Scott directed film and enjoyed every one of them. That’s FIVE films I can say I enjoyed by ONE director and I also can’t say that about many.

Those five films are Crimson Tide (1995), Man on Fire (2004), Déjà Vu (2006), The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) and Unstoppable (2010). I also enjoyed the Tony Scott films The Last Boy Scout (1991) and Enemy of the State (1998).

My favorite Tony Scott film though is absolutely Man on Fire.

Picture I took of my Man on Fire BluRay and posted online after I read about his death. 
Man on Fire is also one of my favorite Denzel Washington films. Aided by a great screenplay by Brian Helgeland who wrote the screenplays for L.A. Confidential and Mystic River, I think Man on Fire is a magnificent piece of work and Tony Scott’s magnum opus.

I thought Tony Scott imbued Man on Fire brilliantly with Mexican culture through the gritty realism of the setting and its use of Spanish music. According to sources cited at Wikipedia, "20th Century Fox wanted the film to be set in Italy. An early draft of the film script was set in Naples. Scott argued that if the setting would be Italy, then the film would have to be a period piece, since by the 2000s kidnappings became a rare occurrence in Italy. Mexico City became the setting of the 2004 film because Mexico City had a high kidnapping rate."

At first I didn’t get the “tremor effect” in the film, but I grew to not only accept it, but love it! I thought it was the perfect aesthetic for such a film.

The true driving force of Man on Fire though was the chemistry between its two leads Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning. Without their chemistry you would never believe the whole plot of the movie which was the revenge factor. Even though he was personally on a downward spiral, you felt that his love of the little girl gave him something to live for and when she was taken—something to kill for. If you didn’t believe their love it would have just been another empty “shoot em up” picture.

I was looking forward to more films from Mr. Anthony David Scott, but at least we have his visual body of work to watch for years to come. May he rest in peace.

 More Man on Fire Trivia 

Denzel Washington was cast in this film because of a trip to a doctor. He ran into director Tony Scott in the waiting room of a medical office and the two men started chatting. Scott had not seen Washington in person since they worked together on "Crimson Tide". Scott happened to see Dakota Fanning in "I Am Sam" the night before and seeing Washington made Scott think using of the two actors together.

A. J. Quinnell (writer of the source book) had a favorable reception to this adaptation, mainly because the film used many of the book's lines. Quinnell said that usually screenwriters "like to leave their mark on the product." Quinnell added that even though he usually dislikes film adaptations of books, the writers "did a good job with Man On Fire and I loved the chemistry between Creasy and the girl" and "When I first heard Denzel was playing the part of Creasy I missed a couple of heartbeats but he played the part brilliantly. The film is violent and if the anger is not portrayed properly, the result can be awful."

In A.J. Quinnell's novel Dakota Fanning's character in Italy was named Pinta. After director Tony Scott's changed the film's setting to Mexico and discovered that "Pinta" is Mexican slang for "whore", he had the name changed to "Pita" and made her full name Lupita.

The kitchen scene between Creasy and Pita where she asked him about concubines were mostly ad-libbed by both actors. It started when they "accused" each other of smiling.

-Trivia from IMDb and Wikipedia

At Wikipedia Tony Scott

At The Hollywood Reporter

PHOTOS: Tony Scott's Films

From 'Top Gun' to 'Unstoppable' a look at his work. VIEW GALLERY

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Olympics DiveCam

2012 Summer Olympics Logo

I've been watching a ton of events in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and maybe it's the the filmmaker in me, but more than the actual athleticism I've been fascinated by what I called the "dive shaft" cam. 

Through research like the article below I've found out that it's called the "DiveCam". Below is a great article with the inventor of the camera and some more great camera inventions.


How does the 2012 Olympic freefall diving camera work?

The "Dive Cam" was done by the great Garett Brown, the inventor of the StediCam. The cool thing with the DiveCam is that is it just a camera triggered by simply letting go of a rope!

Garrett Brown Gives You a ‘God’s Eye’ View of the Olympics

Garett Brown
When seven-time gold medal winner Michael Phelps slices through the water in the Olympic Games next week, he’ll be followed by a torpedolike underwater HD camera that will capture his every move.

That camera, dubbed Mobycam, is just one of a half-dozen clever contraptions invented by Hollywood pioneer Garrett Brown, who also
invented the Steadicam.

The Steadicam (not to be confused with the $14 Steady-Cam) allows a camera to glide smoothly even in fast-action shots. It was used in Rocky to film Sylvester Stallone as he jogged up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Since then, Brown has gone on to be a camera operator for several motion pictures, including The Shining and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, plus sporting events like the Olympics and the Superbowl.

On Thursday, he spoke with about his Olympic gadgets and how he got started.

Garrett Brown’s Divecam follows Olympic divers as they splash into the pool. So how did this all start?

Garrett Brown: I was a filmmaker in the east — way far away from where Hollywood is — in the early ’70s, and I learned my trade by reading all the film books in the Philly library. That was sort of an idiotic way to do it, since it would teach you how to be a filmmaker in the ’50s. I thought I needed dollies and a studio … so I bought dollies, lights, and a studio and all that. It was a studio in a barn outside of Philly.

Then it became clear to me that I loved moving the camera, but to move it’d have to be on wheels. My 10-pound Bolex had to be on an 800-pound dolly, and that drove me crazy! And I just started pumping for some way to isolate the handle from the camera.

A couple of years later I had a device that was the Steadicam. One of the impossible shots in my demo was when my then-girlfriend and I dropped by the Philly art museum, and with the prototype I ran up and down the stairs. And the director of Rocky saw that shot on a demo, and asked, "How did you do that, and where are
those steps?" Which is basically why that shot ended up in Rocky. A few months later I made the shot where he’s running up the stairs.

The underwater Mobycam is pulled by a cable so it can track swimmers as they race through the water. How did you get involved in the Olympics? 

Brown: The Steadicam was a big hit and it got a lot of attention. And then I did one called the Skycam that flies over football games, [for] overhead shots.

The Barcelona Olympics called me and said can I do something really simple [for the swimming competitions]: It was a tiny little submarine that’s actually pulled by a human being with a crank who’s sitting on the sidelines just cranking it back and forth. We made it human powered because we were afraid if there were motors in the water the Spanish would chuck us out of there.

Then I got asked to do a bunch of things: cameras on wires, rails, the Divecam for NBC — that’s the camera that drops with the divers.

And all of that here [in Beijing], the Divecam and the Mobycam, are now in the hands of my Australian licensee which is channel 7 in Sydney.

They’re all high def now — pretty slick gadgets. There’s one called Flycam, an ultralight wired point-to-point one that weighs all of 24 pounds and flies 2,000 feet over the canoeing venue in Beijing. The trick was to stabilize that thing out in the
middle of a wire. What were some of your favorite projects?

Brown: I shot The Shining, which was amazingly fun; it went on for years. I did Rocky, obviously, which was a blast. I worked on three other Rocky movies just here and there. And I did Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: I shot the rope bridge sequence. A lot of stuff. I’ve had a hell of a good time.

Skycam glides over a field on wires to provide overhead shots of sporting events. Do you have any current projects or movies you’re working on?

Brown: I’ve retired this year from actual shooting, but I’m still working on a lot of new gear. I had a good run this year in making up wild new stuff. We keep raising the bar for the gear. And I teach everywhere — I’ve taught in Russia, this year in Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, teaching Steadicam operating. As you can tell, I like my moving camera shots to be smooth.

All of these gadgets are glassy smooth, and that is the way it should be, unless it’s an effect, like a point of a view or a creature lurking. Otherwise this is sort of a "God’s eye" view, an omniscient viewpoint, and I can’t think of any excuse for the frame to be shaking.

Photos courtesy Garrett Brown, article JonathanSantos

Additional: Check out the Wall Street Journal's interactive graphic