Saturday, November 13, 2010

WINNERS - 2010 Cassone Channel Honors - Season 10

Congratulations to the winners from Season 10 for the 2010 Cassone Channel Honors. These are the final results. Be sure to visit http://www, to see the full winning webisodes.

John W. Cheeves III, location Producer;
The Georgia Aqaurium, Atlanta, GA; Antonio Cassone, director, producer, concept, sound mixing & editor.

Robert Haines, model, vampire makeup & styling. A.D., location producer. Antonio Cassone, photographer, music, special effects, video slideshow director, producer & editor.

Judy Charrington

Jenaya Jones Reynolds

David Bork, "217 & 218: A Far and Distant Friend Nearer to Me, Parts 1 & 2”
Robert Haines, vampire makeup & wardrobe styling, "Model: Rob in 'The Vampire Set' - Photography by Cassone's June 2010 Feature, Volume 2"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: 'The Social Network' Reels You In and Hooks You, but...

The Social Network --Columbia Pictures.
Directed by David Fincher
Screenplay Adaptation by Aaron Sorkin, based on Ben Mezrich's best selling book The Accidental Millionaires.
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Josh Pence, Joseph Mazzello, Rooney Mara and Brenda Song
Film Editors: Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
My Rating: B

Aaron Sorkin's manic paced dialogue propels The Social Network and David Fincher gets the best performance out of the subject the film is based on itself, as opposed to any one actor. That is a good thing, actually. I say that because the main character, truthfully speaking, is Facebook. The drama surrounding Mark Zuckerberg (a solid performance from Jesse Eisenberg) and how his empire came about from the beginning just seven short years ago with all of it's subplots, dramas and innuendo. I came away from the film with the feeling that this is the story of a lonely guy that got hurt by a girl he liked - and he was gonna show her.

While the film has been critically praised, I can see some of the why behind the praise, but it certainly does not grab me as the 'movie of the year' as some critics seem to have touted. I think it is an important film worthy of some accolades, but I think just like it's subject being shoved down our collective subconscious throats - so is the brilliant marketing of the film. If I were to take the film and stand it by itself without all the hype and hoopla, I would say that it is a relative subject to today's society and how one man's loneliness lead him to much fortune and fame, but at the end of the day he still doesn't have that one special friend. Very Hollywood.

As for Awards buzz, because I always go there whenever I talk movies...perhaps, it will be on everybody's Best Picture list - despite my personal feelings...but who am I? While Eisenberg is definitely wonderful, and maybe even deserving a Best Actor nod; I am not sure he will make the cut in a category that always seems to have more possibilities than it can contain. However, Andrew Garfield, as his patient, yet jaded business partner and friend and Justin Timberlake's slick, if not slithering portrayal of Napster founder Sean Parker are both on my list for possible Best Supporting Actor nods from the various awards groups. Timberlake actually surprised me, because through all the reserved and intellectual, though oft times tense back and forth dialogue it was Timberlake's performance that had me leaning forward in my chair just a tad. Maybe because my blood pressure raised just a little. Just not sure if it was due to the fact that his Parker was taking advantage of a good situation or that Eisenberg's Zuckerberg seemed so far removed from the situation half the time that you wondered truly, where was this guy coming from?

Along with Aaron Sorkin's, per usual, golden pen; Fincher's well-paced direction and Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall's beautiful film editing...I am sure this film will be on many lists come awards season. As for the social commentary, I almost wish the film would have went just a little further and covered its subject when it reached past the college campuses and became the global phenomenon it is today. Other than that, I definitely would recommend a viewing.

MOVIE REVIEW: For Colored Girls - Tyler Perry's Most Important Film to Date On Many Levels

For Colored Girls -- Lionsgate
Directed by Tyler Perry
Screenplay by Tyler Perry, based on Ntozake Shange's choreo-poem stage play, for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf
Cast: Janet Jackson, Kimberly Elise, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose, Kerry Washington, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Whoopi Goldberg, Macy Gray, Michael Ealy, Omari Hardwick, Richard Lawson, Hill Harper and Khalil Kain
Film Editing: Maysie Hoy
Costume Design: Johnetta Boone
My Grade: A

First of all, this is a time when a film comes along that I wish the Academy, like the Screen Actor's Guild Awards had an ensemble acting category. I will come back to that point in a moment, but I must first begin this review with a poignant question to mass media film critics. Is Tyler Perry on some sort of list? I say that, because I could not get over the numerous negative critiques this film received citing everything from accusing Perry of hacking Shange's original poetic masterpiece to smithereens with formulaic melodrama, very little character development and Janet Jackson coming from the Meryl Streep school of Miranda Priestley a la Devil Wears Prada - actually THREE reviewers had that same insight. I found it curious. Did they have a meeting? I only bring this up, because this is one case where I must compel you to not listen to the mass media critics on this one. The other thing that seemed to be across the board with these critics is they felt that the interwoven poetry of Ntozake Shange's original work with Perry's dialogue would go way over his 'usual' audiences head. What the hell is that supposed to mean? As a person familiar with the original piece, as well as Perry's work - I can tell you that it didn't go over my head. People get it!

It is as though the mass media critics have written him off as comedy, not to be taken too seriously with the Medea films and what not. Sure, Hollywood can count on him to rake in the box office come opening weekend, but he'll never be considered for anything more than that. I wouldn't write him off just yet. This could very well be Tyler Perry's best film. In fact, it is a borderline masterpiece in social commentary. Without giving away any spoilers, unlike some of those aforementioned critics, the issues brought about through both the original play and this film are ones that are not only viable, but that need to be put on the table. If not, unapologetically, put in your face - as they are so eloquently and grittily displayed in the film.

My hope is that not only mass audiences give this film a chance, but that it gets some recognition come awards season. The depths of the cast alone, with each of the central actresses portrayals having at least one, what I affectionately call 'Oscar reel' moment. Of course, I have my favorites. I mean, in an ensemble this deep and gifted, who do you nominate or recognize? Kimberly Elise definitely could come up come awards season, as well as Thandie Newton - as both brought the bravura to their roles.

The best thing about Perry's direction of the film lay in it's nuances - and there are several. There is a scene between Newton and Whoopi Goldberg where they exchange lines from one of Shange's wonderful poems - both beginning in the same place, then drifting separately; each actress not missing a beat and then meeting up to a conclusion from where they first began. I was on the edge of my seat. Phylicia Rashad is brilliant as the wise, if not matronly apartment manager who definitely goes above the call of duty on several occasions. Rashad's performance is timed so well... It is as though she shows up, and it makes all the sense in the world. Every time... Loretta Devine shines in what I think is the best role I have seen her in, 'like you've never seen before.' Even Macy Gray's one scene will have you feeling so on edge and in the moment, if you just go with the suspension of disbelief...yes, people; (ie those critics) run with it.

Get into these characters. There is so much meat here, and for critics to just toss it away like 'whatever' really got under my nail a tad. It is the movies people. I also have to make mention of the men that are in these women's lives. Michael Ealy, in what must be the most unlikeable role an actor could have - his character definitely has some major issues, but Ealy makes you feel for him; just brilliant. Omari Hardwick, Richard Lawson, Hill Harper and Khalil Kain are all solid, as well.

Then there is that exchange between Janet Jackson's Jo/Red and her husband (Hardwick) near the end of the film. No spoilers here, but let's just say that it is a subject that I am glad somebody finally put very much in your face; in not just the African-Amercian community, but in the world community as well. Jackson's sweet soliloquy with all of it's tears and reserved rage, hurt and emotion has got to be her shining moment. I have always been a fan of Janet Jackson, but in a lot of her previous movies I always felt like I was watching Janet Jackson playing a role. Not here. This is the real deal. Pure, raw acting.

The ensemble is so important to this film and I hope audiences do go see it, get into the characters, stories and the wonderful poetry and just go with it. If you are familiar with the play, accept that this is a film based on the material and don't get caught up in trying to compare one with the other. We don't do it every time a Shakespearean piece is turned into a film, why start now?

Also, of note - if, by chance, this film gets recognized come awards season two other artist's work shines as well and that is the amazing Maysie Hoy's film editing and the masterful costume design of Johnetta Boone. Boone's task was not as easy as one would think. The costumes in this film were very important from Goldberg's clean white garb for her religiously fanatic Alice and Loretta Devine's costume jewelry to the pastel shirt worn with metrosexual fit-to-a-tee suaveness of Hardwick's suit as he's talking to Jackson's Jo on his cell phone, while walking down the street. You better believe that every outfit in this film had a reason and a purpose.

Yes, it is the details and when you have woven them altogether you have what could very well be Tyler Perry's first step at being considered a serious filmmaker; a contender if you will - damn the naysayers.