Monthly Archives: September 2010

Hate the thief or love the man?

By Wendy Simmons

Oscar award winner Ben Affleck does triple duty on his new film The Town released to theaters nationwide today (Friday, September 17th).

As the writer, director and main character Affleck leads the cast through a classic tale of love and betrayal taking place in Charlestown, Massachusetts. I’m warning you now; you will be hit in the face with the Boston accent while munching on your popcorn.

Charlestown is the real life-leading city for bank robber breeding. This line of “work” is passed down from generation to generation. Although the film was not based on real life accounts, it did a great job of drawing you into a tug of war with your feelings for a man and a thief.  You want to hate the thief but you want to root for the man.

Doug, played by Affleck, is an ex hockey pro construction worker by day and masked robber by night. He and his cocky crew of four rob armored trucks and banks. Jeremy Renner gave a convincing performance as Jim, Doug’s best friend and coconspirator. Jim’s the hotheaded unruly ex-con who cares deeply for his love ones but doesn’t give a damn about anyone else.

Along with two others, these skilled professionals were almost untouchable. So much so that they gave no qualms about briefly kidnapping a hostage after a successful bank heist. But that hostage could be the very one to finger them or to help them. The kidnapped woman, Claire, played by Rebecca Hall, became the romantic love interest of Doug after he tailed her to see if she was in cahoots with the feds. We saw the compassion that he held for her during the robbery and he acted upon those emotions once she made contact with him.  Unknowing to her, she was sharing her feelings, scares and evidence with the very man that helped to take her hostage.

With Claire being a tunnie, an outsider of Charlestown, and Doug being a fully-fledged rep for the town they enjoyed what was different about each other. Her growing feelings weren’t enough to steer him completely away from a life of crime but it did help to show him that his underlined abandonment issues hindered him from moving forward. Once Doug decided to take a leap of faith and leave his comfort zone, he wanted her to join him. But like all good caper films, the thief must complete one last huge heist before taking off. And with the feds watching him, his friends and Claire it’s not going to be an easy walk through the garden.

The men are genius thieves but all great things it must come to an end, on one side or the other.

The Town was an exciting film with a fresh cast. Affleck may regain respect for his craft after this one. Although his copulation of worthy actors, a fine script and direction made this occasionally funny romantic crime drama, a great choice for a matinee the story moved a little too quickly for the impact of their actions to appear realistic making me question just how clever these superb thieves really were.

 Grab a date and some snacks and head to an early show. I give it $$$

Ranking =
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$$$ Matinee Prices
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Movie Trailer: “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf”


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Stepping Straight to DVD…Good Thinking!

By Wendy Simmons

I know some folks may be a little disappointed to know that Stomp the Yard: The Homecoming, sequel to a film baring the same name did not make it to the big screen and after seeing it I understand why.

Don’t get me wrong…it’s not a horrible film but it’s not a blockbuster either.

It keeps in tradition with the original and takes place at the fictional black university Truth revolving around the fraternity Theta Nu Theta, who once again are desperately vying to win the annual Sprite Step Competition.

For those of you that are foreign to this popular tradition stepping is a dance form that has been associated with African American fraternities and sororities since their existence beginning in the early 1900s. To the many Greek organizations in the world, it’s a big deal!

However, what may hold the Theta’s back from winning this competition is the hot headed new inductee Chance, played by Collins Pennie.  He’s an extremely gifted dancer who has gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd while battling in underground dance competitions off the school’s campus. Chance hides this fact from his family, friends and fraternity brothers causing them to be surprised once his seedy interactions resurface and confront Chance head on. People are out to hurt him and are willing to go through whomever in order to get to him.

Along with dodging past transgressions Chance is also trying to cope with the premature death of his mother which has caused a strain on he and father’s relationship…he’s being taunted by an ex-temptress trying to weasel her way back into his life…as well as arrogantly battling the rival fraternity for step supremacy of Truth’s campus. He is too arrogant for his own good and we hope that he eventually revels in the fact that the world does not revolve around him, there are others to consider.

For dance movie fans, there are a lot of action packed dance sequences that will have you feeling like jumping up and giving it a whirl. For people like me…college based movie fans…it gives you a similar feel as the classic Spike Lee joint School Daze.

Accompanying the outstanding dance choreographer and nostalgic feel of college good times there’s plenty of eye candy for the ladies. Pooch Hall of the sitcom The Game costars and Columbus Short, the star of the original Stomp the Yard also makes a cameo. In fact, there are many recognizable faces throughout the film. Jazmine Guy, Teyana Taylor and Terrance J from BET’s 106th and Park also costar.

Although it’s more dance than substance it’s a classic tale of perseverance trumping adversity. 

Not worth the price of admission but good enough to enjoy at home.

I give it $$

Ranking =
$$$$ Evening Show Prices
$$$ Matinee Prices
$$ Rental Prices
$ Wait For TV

More Performers Announced For 2010 MTV VMAs

MTV announced this week that Cher, Ellen DeGeneres, Katy Perry, the cast of “Glee” including Jane Lynch, Cory Monteith, Chris Colfer and Amber Riley, in addition Rosario Dawson, Chris Pine, the cast of Jackass including Johnny Knoxville, Bam Magera and Steve-O, Kim Kardashian, “True Blood” cast member Joe Manganiello and Rick Ross are set to present at the “2010 MTV Video Music Awards.”

In addition, the list of performances grows as Mary J Blige and Swizz Beatz prepare to hit the stage with Drake, also Bruno Mars will make his VMA performance debut at the awards show, which will broadcast live on Sunday, September 12 at 9PM (Live ET/Tape delayed PT) from the Nokia Theatre L.A Live In Los Angeles, CA.

Previously announced presenters include: The Social Network’s Justin Timberlake, Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield, Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj, Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Trey Songz, Ashley Greene, Selena Gomez and Ne-Yo. As previously announced, comedienne Chelsea Handler will host the show.

Other performers on the show include Linkin Park, Usher, Eminem, Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Drake, Paramore, B.o.B, Florence + The Machine, along with Travie McCoy, Jason Derulo and Robyn who will perform with this year’s VMA house artist, deadmau5.

Viewers can vote for “Best New Artist,” by visiting through the show, live on September 12. In addition, text voting for “Best New Artist” is open to all wireless carrier subscribers by texting BNA to 97979.

J. Cole — Rebel with the Lyricist Coup

By Sommer Thornton

J. Cole is one of the most anticipated new comers in hip-hop. Following in the footsteps of successful sophomores Wale and Drake, J. Cole, who hails from North Carolina, offers what hip-hop has been missing for quite some time. That’s why his loyal fans packed Chicago’s Bottom Lounge for what was supposed to be a brief after party for Lollapalooza. Instead, J. Cole performed nearly 20 tracks from his mix tapes The Come Up (2007), The Warm Up (2009), and from studio sessions for his upcoming album, Cole World(2010), which includes his first single, “Who Dat.”

J. Cole’s rap style is a lyrical gumbo of the greats –Jay Z, Tupac, Kanye West, Eminem, and Common – some of which happen to be J. Cole’s inspirations. But Cole brings something authentic to the game. The Roc-Nation artist speaks from the perspective of a  bi-racial kid from the south who graduated from a big-city university with honors, yet endured the same hardships as the foster kid, the kid from the projects, the kid with the parent on drugs, the kid who dreams of going to college. J. Cole infuses passionate metaphors and inspiring messages in his verses, all while flaunting his intelligence. It’s clear that J. Cole refuses to dumb down his lyrics.  And his fans appreciate that. The multi-ethnic crowd rapped every line with J. Cole as he performed tracks that had never been released. At one point, he took the mic and put it to the audience. When the fans sang his lyrics on point, J. Cole blushed in gratitude.

While J. Cole’s swag is of the humble, smart- cool kid, he’s no doubt easy on the eyes. With same veracity he raps for positive change, he talks about stealing a guy’s girlfriend, gratuitous sex, and refuting haters. Songs like “Losing My Balance,” “Dollar and a Dream,” and “Lights Please,” are an honest snapshot in time, relevant to people around the world.

As eloquent as he is eclectic, J. Cole has already collaborated with some of the most prolific lyricist in the game-Talib Kweli, Wale, Jay Z and Mos Def. Now, J. Cole is producing his own tracks. And he doesn’t limit himself to one genre of beats. He samples classic music from everyone from Hank Crawford to Mary Love.  Though some try to place him in the category of “conscious rapper,” J. Cole’s style is a mixture of consciousness, passion, pain, reflection, and braggadocio. 

There hasn’t been this much support for a newcomer from rap vets and fans since – well since Drake, but it had been a long time prior to him. But unlike Drake, J. Cole speaks to the streets, to suburbia, and to hip-hops heads around the world. Instead of trying to be the hardest, the most conscious, the best dressed, or wear the brightest chain, J. Cole is focused on the basics, good music. And for that real fans salute him. 

Photo by Dan Locke

Budweiser Superfest hits Chicago

By Dan Locke

Universal Motown Records singer-songwriter-producer KEM has joined forces with R&B/soul singers Anthony Hamilton, Jaheim, Raheem DeVaughn, and Universal Motown label-mate Hal Linton for the 2010 Budweiser Superfest that kicked off last month (August).

Co-headlined by KEM and Anthony Hamilton, the anticipated summer powerhouse tour will make stops at a mix of arenas and amphitheaters across the U.S.

A live performer who commands the stage with his soulful vocal ability and captivating stage presence, KEM promises to deliver a standout live experience not to be missed. In addition to revisiting popular classics such as “Love Calls” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” the Detroit native will also showcase his new single, “Why Would You Stay,” plus other songs from his third studio album, “Intimacy,” that was released in August.

Photos by Dan Locke