2 Oakland movies getting buzz at Sundance Film Fest

Boots Riley yells directions on a megafone on Franklin Street in downtown Oakland, Calif., on Friday, July 14, 2017. Riley is making his director debut, shooting scenes throughout Oakland for the drama, "Sorry to Bother You". (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)

Oakland takes center stage in two buzzed-about movies debuting at the Sundance Film Festival.

“Blindspotting,” an edgy comedy starring and co-written by Oakland native Daveed Diggs (a Tony Award-winner for “Hamilton”) was one of the famed festival’s opening night screenings Thursday. Diggs told the Associated Press the film was drawn from his experiences growing up in Oakland and by what is going on there now. It focuses on an Oakland man who is trying to finish out his probation period without getting into further trouble, as he and his friend deal with gentrification, racism, police violence and more. “Blindspotting” was co-written by and co-stars Diggs’ longtime friend and collaborator Rafael Casal. It was directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada, marking his feature film debut.

The film drew generally positive reviews. Variety called it “the most exciting cinematic take on contemporary race relations since ‘Do the Right Thing,’” while Los Angeles Times writer Tre’vell Anderson praised its response to #BlackLivesMatter and the financial pressures plaguing cities like Oakland.

Just walked out of #BLINDSPOTTING. I loved it. Beautifully captures the enduring effects of police overuse of power on black folks while commenting on a changing (gentrifying) Oakland.

And @DaveedDiggs’ bars and delivery… GRIPPING!

— Tre’vell Anderson (@TrevellAnderson) January 19, 2018

Meanwhile, the feature film debut by Oakland musician, activist and filmmaker Boots Riley is slated to premiere Saturday at Sunday.

“Sorry to Bother You” is described as a sci-fi comedy set in a present-day (but very strange) Oakland in which a telemarketer (Lakeith Stanfield) achieves sudden and baffling success at work. Tessa Thompson and Armie Hammer (as the company’s orgy-loving CEO) co-star. The New York Times called it one of five movies to watch at the festival.

Boots Riley was filming “Sorry to Bother You” in downtown Oakland in July.” …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

Omarosa’s latest cliffhanger: She may have secret West Wing recordings, report says

Whatever liaison job Omarosa Manigault ostensibly had in the White House, her formative professional years took place on reality TV shows like “The Apprentice.”

As writer Rhonda Garelick says in The Cut, Manigault was called upon to play a certain part on President Donald Trump’s former NBC show: the “va-va-va-voomy” soap opera troublemaker. On “The Apprentice” and on “The Ultimate Merger,” a subsequent dating show she developed with Trump, Maniguault had to learn certain theatrical tricks of the reality TV trade, including the use of interpersonal conflicts and cliffhangers to heighten drama.

So are some of those theatrical tricks coming into play now, with the newest Manigault revelation?

According to the New York Daily News, the former White House staffer may have taped confidential West Wing conversations and fears being caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

The Daily News cites “sources” for its report. Of course, we can’t know who these sources are. Manigault herself?

But in any case, these sources are telling the Daily News that Manigault, 43, has held exploratory meetings with several high profile attorneys for potential representation. These attorneys include Lisa Bloom and Monique Pressley, former lawyers for, respectively, Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby.

Manigault apparently believes she may become a subject of Mueller’s investigation into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

As for the possible existence of recordings, Manigault was known by “everyone” to love recording people and meetings using the notes app on her iPhone, a source told the Daily News.

“Don’t be surprised if she has secret audio files on everyone in that White House, past and present staffers included,” the source said.

Manigault , who the Cut said retained her TV-diva ways in the White House, either was fired or resigned from her White House job in December.

She told “Good …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

Movie review: ‘Forever My Girl’ spins tale of love lost — and found

Romance novelist and screenwriter Nicholas Sparks has cornered the market on the sub-genre he essentially invented — pleasant, epic romances in the South involving young, attractive, white, Christian, heterosexual couples.

These dramas appeal overwhelmingly to a female movie-going audience, so it’s high time female filmmakers take their place behind the camera to shape the voices and perspectives in these stories. Writer-director Bethany Ashton Wolf has done just that, adapting Heidi McLaughlin’s novel for the new screen version of “Forever My Girl,” a tale of love lost and found.

Love is lost when homegrown Southern country-music star Liam Page (Alex Roe) ditches his high school sweetheart, Josie (Jessica Rothe), at the altar during the frenzy surrounding his first hit single.

Years later, after he’s become the Justin Bieber of contemporary country music — instantly recognizable and pursued by mobs of photographers and rabid fans wherever he goes — sad news from his place of birth sets Liam on a course back home, much to the chagrin of his manager Sam (Peter Cambor) and Hollywood publicist Doris (Gillian Vigman).

Once he arrives, no one at home seems too pleased to see him — not his dad, nor Pastor Brian (John Benjamin Hickey) and definitely not Josie. When she sees him, she gives him a good, hard slug.

The only one who seems remotely interested is — drumroll! — 7-year-old Billy (Abby Ryder Fortson), who turns out to be the daughter Liam didn’t know he had. The precocious Billy becomes the catalyst for Liam and Josie to reunite, and for Liam to leave behind his bad-boy ways and embrace fatherhood. But Billy feels more like a plot devise than a real character. Her dialogue is a bit too pointed, and her name is a reference to Liam’s late mother.

In trying to address “what happened,” the film gets twisted …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

TV tonight: ’20/20′ delves into the Turpins’ child-torture case

TV picks for Friday, Jan. 19
WATCH THIS:

“Hell’s Kitchen” (8 p.m., Fox): The remaining All-Stars must instruct athletes Candice Park (WNBA), Jordan Wieber (2012 Olympic Gold Medalist), Ricky Williams (Heisman Trophy Winner), Shawne Merriman (NFL football linebacker) and Reggie Miller (NBA Hall of Famer) to cook their signature dishes – using only verbal instructions.

“Taken” (9 p.m., NBC): When a plane carrying Bryan Mills and a key witness in a murder investigation (guest star Alexander Draper) crashes, a wounded Mills must call upon the survival skills his father taught him to overcome the elements, find a way out of the woods and protect the witness from a lethal team of mercenaries on their tail. Meanwhile, Santana organizes a ‘go big or go home’ plan to locate the downed plane.

“Blue Bloods” (10 p.m., CBS): When Henry is the key witness on Danny and Baez’s case, his meddling pushes Danny’s buttons until he leads them to valuable information. Also, Nicky shocks her family by siding with her activist friend, Chrissie (Naian González Norvind), who defaced the NYPD flag at One Police Plaza, and Jamie and Eddie learn a parole officer is taking advantage of his power over parolees.

“20/20” (10 p.m., ABC): This week a story made national headlines when, according to authorities, 13 siblings were found captive inside a California home. The siblings ranged in age from 2 to 29 years old and were only discovered when one of them — a 17-year-old-girl — escaped and called 911. The local sheriff’s office reportedly found some of the children “shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks.” “20/20” has the latest reporting on what life was like inside what authorities are characterizing as a house of horrors and on parents David and Louise Turpin, who were arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment. …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

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