Reiterating a suggestion I previously made… if you’re a filmmaker/producer/distributor reading this, and your film is streaming on Netflix, please let me know. Netflix unfortunately doesn’t have what I feel should be a more efficient search/sort method, and it can be quite a chore trying to find something worth watching. So, help me out if you can.
The same goes for non-filmmakers. If you stumble across any titles that you think should be featured in this series, let me know!
Without further ado, here is this week’s list of 5:
3 – Blood And Bone. – I remember when I first decided to check this out years ago; I went into it not expecting very much at all. But I watched it, and was pleasantly surprised. It’s actually not bad at all. Maybe even a little under-rated.
It’s a genre film; action-packed (just look at the title) B-movie, and doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is. But it’s well-made.
Its star, Black Dynamite himself, Michael Jai White, the muscle-bound, martial arts pro (and the rest of the starring cast), helps elevate the material.
Mr White kicks ass, and more ass, and more ass, and never smiles, nor blinks! He’s the ultimate bad-ass, and fun to watch!
Of course, there is a story there; in short, an ex-convict named Isaiah Bone (played by White) falls into a mob-controlled street fighting ring in the back alleys of Los Angeles, in order to keep a promise to a dead friend.
It co-stars Nona Gaye (looking, sounding and acting uncannily like a younger Angela Bassett) as the supposed love interest, but not really; Brit Eamonn Walker as a sword-wielding villainous kingpin, and a cadre of other players.
It’s predictable and cliche-filled, but, entertaining. Like I said, it knows exactly what it is, and doesn’t try to be anything more, or less. It’s one setup after another, with each usually ending with a fight sequence, involving Jai White, leading up to the inevitable final showdown that you can see coming a mile away. But, oddly enough, you still anticipate it.
This was director Ben Ramsey’s 2nd feature film; he’s African American, by the way; He previously directed Love And A bullet, which starred Treach from rap group Naughty By Nature. He also executive produced Dennis Dortch’s A Good Day To Be Black And Sexy.
And one final note, before Steven Soderbergh put her in Haywire, Gina Carano did some acting, and fighting in Blood And Bone.
4 – Before you see his latest film, Blackbird (his 5th feature, starring newcomer Julian Walker, Isaiah Washington and Mo’Nique), which premiered the Pan African Film Festival in LA last month, check out the third feature film from Patrik-Ian Polk, director of indie films Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom and Punks (a film described as a male Waiting To Exhale that garnered a 2002 Independent Spirit Award nomination), and creator of the Noah’s Arc series for the Logo network.
The Skinny tells the story of a group of four young, black, gay men who arrange to meet up in New York City one year after their graduation from Brown University. Their plans for a weekend of fun start off well, relaxed in each other’s company, as only old friends can be. But, as you might expect, old tensions quickly resurface.
The project also features original music written and performed by Polk.
With The Skinny, which was released theatrically in 2012, Polk strives to address issues facing the LGBT community, including date-rape, infidelity, and HIV/AIDS awareness. For the film’s release, he also partnered with the Black AIDS Institute to promote the importance of health in the LGBT community. The Institute sponsored appearances, receptions and panel discussions in cities where the film screened.
It later premiered on the Logo Network.
5 – The Iran Job, a feature-length documentary highlighting the peaks and valleys experienced by Kevin Sheppard, a pro American basketball player, who accepts a contract to play in Iran.
What begins as a typical job-for-hire, ends in an emotional roller coaster as Kevin forms an unlikely alliance with three Iranian women against the backdrop of revolutionary upheaval in Tehran. Thanks to these women, his apartment turns into an oasis of free speech, where they discuss everything from politics to religion to gender roles. Kevin’s season in Iran culminates in something much bigger than basketball: the uprising and subsequent suppression of Iran’s reformist Green Movement – a powerful prelude to the still unfolding Arab Spring.
It took the filmmaker behind this informative and entertaining project, Till Schauder, some 4 years to complete it, as he basically moved with Sheppard to Iran, and followed him around on a daily basis, for the entire basketball season. The end result provides American audiences with a side of Iran rarely shown in American media (everyday working people in Iran, who are just as passionate about their basketball, as even the most rabid NBA fans). In that sense, it’s a movie that’s more political than it is a sports documentary.
After finally being acquired by Film Movement, it screened theatrically in the USA, although in a very limited release, and was part of the National Black Programming Consortium’s season 5 of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange last year.
The film received national press attention, even including some Oscar buzz, although it didn’t make the nominations short list.
Check out the trailer below: