Thursday, September 17, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Journalists/Reporters for Print/TV


EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!

I've always wanted to say that.

The only reason I'm saying it is because the topic for this week's Thursday Movie Picks is journalist and/or reporters for print and/or TV. Make sure you check out Wandering Through the Shelves to see how to join in on the weekly fun. Anyhoo, lots and lots of movies out there that involve people who bring us news in some form or fashion. Yeah, I've seen that one. That one, too.  Okay, maybe not that one. But have you seen these?


Livin' Large
(1991)
One of the effects of Spike Lee's success in the late 1980s is that the early 1990s saw a spike in films by black directors and/or black themed films making it to the screen. Pardon the pun. This fits the latter category as director Michael Schultz is not black. However, he wasn't just some white guy trying to suddenly jumping on the bandwagon. This is the man helmed such 'hood classics as Cooley High, Car Wash, Krush Groove, The Last Dragon, and several Richard Pryor vehicles. This one has become lost within Schultz's own filmography and was even little seen at the time of its release. It follows Dexter Jackson (T.C. Carson), a young man who, through some extraordinary events, achieves his goal of becoming a TV news anchor. Truth told, this isn't the greatest film in the world, not by a longshot. Still, it has some interesting things to say about racial identity and conformity.


Brown Sugar
(2002)
Our two leads share a love of mine, hip hop, and they are making a living from it. The journalist is Sydney (Sanaa Lathan) who has just become editor-in-chief of XXL magazine (that is a real mag for the uninitiated). Her world is turned upside down when she finds out her lifelong friend Dre (Taye Diggs), a record company A&R, is getting married to someone else. Along with the standard rom-com machinations, it makes some poignant commentary about the direction of hip hop music that still holds water over a decade later. For people not into hip hop, it's a cute, light-hearted romance with a pair of extremely likable actors at the forefront plus Queen Latifah and the hugely underrated Mos Def in sizable supporting roles.


Resurrecting the Champ
(2007)
Since we hit TV and magazines, let's get a newspaper guy in on the action. That guy is Erik (Josh Hartnett), a struggling young writer for The Denver Times. He gets a bit of inspiration when he discovers Champ (Samuel L. Jackson), a local homeless guy. Erik soon discovers that Champ is any ol' bum, he's former heavyweight boxing contender Bob Satterwhite whom most people presumed dead years ago. Naturally, Erik sets out to write Champ's story. Champ has no interest in having his story told, but the two men strike up an interesting bromance. The cast also includes Alan Alda, Rachel Nichols, and Teri Hatcher. Still, this is Samuel L. Jackson's movie. He delivers an outstanding performance that hasn't been seen nearly enough.


Bonus Pick:

Friday Foster
(1975)
Because I can never pass up an opportunity to talk about Pam Grier. Here, she plays Friday, a photographer photo-journalist for “Glance” magazine who witnesses an assassination attempt on billionaire Ford Malotte (Godfrey Cambridge). However, we don’t get the normal butt-kicking Pam Grier. Instead, we see her both in super-sleuth mode and using her considerable feminine wiles. Pause. Extended Pause. Catch my breath. Okay…I needed a moment. I mean we are talking about Pam Grier here. Anyhoo, most of the action is handled by the rest of the cast. That cast is dripping with 70s goodness. It includes Carl Weathers as the featured henchman and Ted Lange (Isaac from The Love Boat) as a jive-talking pimp trying to recruit Friday for his stable. There’s also Scatman Crothers as a high-profile reverend and Eartha Kitt hamming it up as a famous fashion designer. Even Jim Backus, who played Thurston Howell III on Gilligan's Island, shows up. Throw in a plot to kill “all the Black leaders” (whatever that means), some random nudity and a 12 year old kid who gets left home alone, apparently for days on end, and you get a dumb but fun blast from the past.


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32 comments:

  1. Brown Sugar! Haven't thought of that in years. I always compare it to Love & Basketball in my head because I saw them both around the same time and they both star Sanaa Lathan, which is totally unfair because very few films are on Love & Basketball's level. But it is good.

    LOVING the Pam Grier shoutout! Livin' Large has me intrigued.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed Brown Sugar. Wasn't sure anyone would have seen it. Livin' Large is an interesting watch.

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  2. Livin' Large was underrated. Especially for the moments where T.C. Carson sees himself as a white guy. Oh shit, that is scary.

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  3. Oh man, I haven't even heard of Resurrecting the Champ! How did I miss that one? It's going straight onto the watch list. Great picks!
    - Allie

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    1. That one flew under a lot of people's radars. Don't feel bad. Do give it a watch, though.

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  4. Haven't seen any of these movies unfortunately but two personal picks of mine would be Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford's portrayals of Woodward and Bernstein fro All the President's Men

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    1. That one is probably going on my Blind Spot list for next year since I still need to see it.

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  5. Resurrecting the Champ sounds a like a nice film, though I haven't seen any of choice. Must fix that.

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    1. It is a very nice film. Hope you give it a shot.

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  6. Oh man, It's been a long time since I've thought of Brown Sugar. I saw that in theaters.

    Mmmmmm Tay Diggs.

    I haven't seen the other picks, though I remember Resurrecting The Champ a little bit.

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    1. Thrilled with all the love Brown Sugar is getting.

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  7. Ach! I've only seen your bonus which was a fun film. Pam Grier is always worth watching. I've avoided Resurrecting the Champ because watching Hartnett act is akin to watching paint dry for me. Never heard of Livin' Large but it sounds decent. I had heard of Brown Sugar but didn't realize that Queen Latifah and Mos Def were in the cast, love them both so I'll go on the hunt and be checking that one out first. Thanks for the new possibilities!

    I’ve been looking forward to this week, this is one of my all-time favorite genres. I love serious stories on the subject and funny takes as well, the problem being I couldn’t stop! I ended up with six, down from an original 15, I couldn’t decide between so I split them in two.

    Broadcast News (1987)-Incisive look at the news division of a Washington D.C. station with a love triangle woven in. Hard driving and ambitious producer Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) is torn between her attractions to the handsome but cloddish Tom Grunick, a new reporter at the station who is on his way up and Aaron Altman a superior reporter who doesn’t have the right look for television despite his skill and who she sees as a brother figure. He loves her desperately and therefore feels a fierce competition with Tom who he sees as inadequate. Set against a station reorganization at a time when hard news departments were still bastions of respectability and fighting the incursion of entertainment news into their formats.

    The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)-An Australian reporter, a very young Mel Gibson, is on assignment in Jakarta during the political upheaval of Sakarno’s rule. He is taken under the wing of Billy Kwan, a brilliant Linda Hunt who won an Oscar, a photographer who worships the leader. Along the way he falls in love with an equally young and striking Sigourney Weaver. He is just starting to build contacts when the situation explodes and it becomes a race for life or death. Filmed with an oppressive atmosphere and tense direction by Peter Weir.

    Libeled Lady (1936)-When his newspaper accidentally prints a false story about an heiress and she threatens to sue for libel he concocts an elaborate scheme to make it appear true, pulling an old friend and his own fiancée into the plan. Things naturally go awry. Classic comedy with four great stars, Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy and William Powell working at the top of their craft. Harlow and Powell were engaged at the time this was made but she died the following year before their marriage could take place.

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  8. The first one in this set is one of my top 10 favorite films. I think it's just about perfect.

    All the President’s Men (1976) - Compulsively watchable chronicle of Woodward and Bernstein’s relentless investigation of the Watergate break-in for the Washington Post. For a drama that is all talk this is a fascinating viewing experience with exceptional work from the entire cast and perfectly judged direction by Alan J. Pakula.

    The China Syndrome (1979)-While on location for a documentary on energy at a nuclear power plant reporter Kimberly Wells and her crew witness a near catastrophe which her cameraman secretly films. When they get back to the station and want to broadcast the story they hit a wall of resistance from both the network and the plant. During further investigation Kimberley discovers how much peril they, and the state of California, were in coming close to “the China Syndrome” and the fact that the issue has not been repaired and the threat remains. Incredibly timely on release, while this was playing in theatres the Three Mile Island accident occurred in Pennsylvania turning the film into a monster hit.

    June Bride (1948)-Carey Johnson (Robert Montgomery), a combat journalist just back from assignment is forced to take a job covering a June wedding for a bridal magazine run by Linda Gilman (Bette Davis), the fiancée he jilted, much to her displeasure. Off they travel to Indiana, with the rest of the crew, in the dead of winter for the “June” shoot. When they arrive Carey immediately starts looking for an angle to his story causing trouble for all involved but most of all for himself. Slight but breezy comedy with a great supporting cast including Mary Wickes, Fay Bainter and Tom Tully. Keep an eye out during the wedding scene and you can spot Debbie Reynolds in a wordless bit, her screen debut.

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    1. I've seen Broadcast News, but it's been so long I need to watch it again. And I badly need to see All the President's Men. And yeah, Josh Hartnett is bland. Very bland.

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    2. It took me a long time to rediscover Broadcast News. It came out when I was managing a rickety movie theatre, the small chain Sam-Eric was on the verge of bankruptcy and repaired nothing, and the projector leaked oil all over the print which of course made it brittle and prone to tears which it did often. Eventually we lost so much of the film, or it was blurry, that it barely made sense then we lost most of the final scene and had to warn people before they went in that they were forewarned and there would be no refunds but they could have passes to anything else that was showing. Incredibly some people still insisted on seeing it and then came back out and complained that there was something wrong with the movie!!! Obviously all that colored my perception of the film, just thinking about it now gives me agita!, but over time I've been able to separate my recollections from the film itself and see it as a fine movie. I can't say the same for The Last Emperor, which caught on fire during a matinee, I hated it then and I hate it now.

      Would love to hear what you think of All the President's Men once you've watched it. As I said it's one of my top films, really in my top 5, and I find it endlessly rewatchable. I did just that to prepare for the week and enjoyed it as much this time as I did the first.

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  9. Pam Grier, woot woot!
    Love Brown Sugar too. Everyone's so good in it!

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    1. Yay! More love for Brown Sugar. And I'll join you with a mighty Woot Woot for Ms. Grier.

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  10. I have not seen any of these films. i have heard of Resurrecting the Champ but that's it. I would also just love to see Friday Foster-those 70's "black" films were just great!

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  11. I have to endorse Front Page Woman from 1934. Bette Davis is a reporter and her boyfriend (George Brent) is a reporter for a rival newspaper. He's a sexist ass (because it's 1934) and he frequently patronizes her and minimizes her skills as a reporter.

    Then there's a murder and they make a wager: If he solves it first, she has to marry him and quit being a reporter and if she solves it, he has to admit that women can be good reporters, Yeah, it's a crap wager, but it sets up a charming and frequently funny 90 minutes of a murder mystery where the two reporters follow the clues in totally different ways based on their individual strengths and weaknesses.

    There were a lot of great movies about journalists in the 1930s and I should probably be suggesting His Girl Friday - which is a great movie and was available on Netflix streaming last time I looked - but Front Page Woman is a fun little romp from Bette Davis's early career and should be getting more attention.

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  12. I haven't seen any of these, but that shot of Hartnett and Jackson gave me serious...Soloist vibes and it scared me a little.

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    1. There is a little of that, but Jackson is not going "full retard" like Foxx did.

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    2. Haven't seen any of them too. Was the Soloist bad?

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    3. I thought it was...OK, but it could definitely be cloying.

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  13. I watched Resurrecting the Champ for the first time last month, and I really enjoyed it as well. Jackson was incredible; I agree, more people need to see that one.

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    1. It's an unjustly ignored performance in an underseen film. Glad you like it.

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  14. I've only even heard of Resurrecting the Champ. Always seemed like a good one.

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    1. It's one of those movies that just got lost in the crowd, but it's a good one.

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  15. Josh Hartnett tends to put me off seeing a film, but the premise of Resurrecting the Champ sounds worth watching. Is there anything Samuel L Jackson doesn't amaze in? :)

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    1. I agree with all of this which is why I watched it.

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