Monday, August 3, 2020

Louis Gossett Jr's 'The Cuban' Plays At PAFF


By Darlene Donloe

For decades Academy Award winner (An Officer and a Gentleman) Louis Gossett, Jr. has been plying his acting craft in film, television, and on stage.

During that time he has turned in some memorable performances including drill Sergeant Emil Foley in An Officer and a Gentleman, Fiddler in Roots, and Will Reeves in HBO’s The Watchmen.

He recently added to that list with the role of Luis Garcia in The Cuban, a drama making its U.S. premiere at The 28th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival.

The Cuban, directed by Sergio Navarretta, is a coming-of-age drama that centers on Mina (Ana Golja), a young Afghan immigrant who gets her first job in a nursing home. Her unexpected friendship with Luis, an elderly former well-known Cuban musician reignites her love of music and changes her life forever. Mina, who is pressured to pursue a career in medicine instead of pursuing her love of music, lost her parents at a young age and was sent to live with her aunt in Canada.

With no will to live, Luis sits in a wheelchair all day, retreating inside as he’s looking off into the distance.  He’s suffering from Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia and has frequent moments of lucidity and joy. When Mina plays Cuban music for him and cooks his traditional food for him, something triggers Luis who comes to life.  The music sparks something inside of him as he has memories of a bygone era.

At its core, The Cuban is about the power of music over Alzheimer’s and how it can literally change someone’s life. It’s also a touching story about life-changing relationships.

The movie is beautifully shot. Each character’s personality has layer after layer that is being peeled back.

The nursing home is stark and colorless.  But when Luis hears Cuban music or eats traditional Cuban food, or is taken out of the nursing home for a quick jaunt to a Cuban music club, the colors are rich and vibrant.

Louis Gossett, Jr.

Gossett, who founded The Eracism Foundation in 2006, turns in yet another sterling performance as a one-time popular guitarist. Gossett’s eyes tell the story. His hands tell the story. His slow movements tell the story.

He’s brilliant. It’s wonderful watching his master class.

Navarretta said the role was written for Gossett.

“We stalked him for the role,” he said.

Although there are more than 200 films in the Pan African Film Festival, this one is a must-see.

The Cuban does not have U.S. distribution. It will be released in Canada on April 24.

The Cuban, directed by Navarratte, and written by Alessandra Piccione, stars Gossett, Golja, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Lauren Holly, Giacomo Gianniotti, Shiva Negar and Jonathan Keltz.

Running Time: 1 h, 49 min





Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Louis Gossett Jr Talks About Role In 'The Cuban'

 
Louis Gossett, Jr.

Legendary actor Louis Gossett Jr. recently made an appearance at the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) in support of his latest film, The Cuban.

The drama made its U.S. premiere at PAFF

In the film, directed by Sergio Navarrette, Gossett plays Luis Garcia, an elderly former well-known Cuban musician who now finds himself in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer's.

The Cuban is a coming-of-age drama that centers on Mina (Ana Golja), a young Afghan immigrant who gets her first job in a nursing home. Her unexpected friendship with Luis reignites her love of music and changes her life forever.

With no will to live, Luis sits in a wheelchair all day. When Mina plays Cuban music for him and cooks his traditional food for him, something triggers Luis who comes to life.

At its core, The Cuban is about the power of music over Alzheimer’s and how it can literally change someone’s life. It’s also a touching story about life-changing relationships.

For decades Academy Award winner (An Officer and a Gentleman) Louis Gossett, Jr. has been plying his acting craft in film, television, and on stage.

During that time he has turned in some memorable performances including drill Sergeant Emil Foley in An Officer and a Gentleman, Fiddler in Roots, and Will Reeves in HBO’s The Watchmen.


In The Cuban, he’s added yet another to his impressive list of characters.

I spoke to Gossett (LGJ) about his role in the film.

DD: It’s good to see you.

LGJ:  I’m grateful to be here. In fact, I’m grateful to be anywhere.

DD:  Anything you want to talk about.

LGJ:  I just want everyone to know we can’t make it until we make it together.

DD:  Why do you say that?

LGJ:  There seems to be a disconnect between families. All generations need to reconnect.

DD: I’ll be sure to let people know you said that. In the meantime, I’d like to ask you about The Cuban and the character you play.  Who is Luis Garcia?

LGJ: He’s an ex-patriot refugee. He’s a fish out of water who is trying to find his way.

DD: How did you go about developing Luis?

LGJ: It’s not too much of a stretch to play Luis, who is Latin or someone like a Sam Cooke.

DD: Why?

LGJ:  Because with Luis and Sam it’s like the resurrection of an old culture.

DD: Ok, then let's talk about what was the most difficult part of playing Luis.

LGJ:  The Spanish words. I really wanted to know the Spanish words that I was speaking, but I couldn’t quite get it. I just couldn’t master the words.

DD:  How did you come to be involved with this film?

LGJ:  I got a call from Sergio (Navarrette, the director), who said the role was written for me.

The Cuban opens virtually in theaters July 31.

The Cuban, directed by Navarratte, and written by Alessandra Piccione, stars Gossett, Golja, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Lauren Holly, Giacomo Gianniotti, Shiva Negar and Jonathan Keltz.

Running Time: 1 h, 49 min





Friday, July 17, 2020

Nia Long and Omar Epps Star in 'Fatal Affair'

(l-r) Omar Epps and Nia Long star in the Netflix drama, Fatal Affair

By Darlene Donloe


Nia Long is an actress known for being proficient in both comedy and drama. This week she flexes her drama muscle alongside the equally adept Omar Epps in writer-director Peter Sullivan's Netflix thriller Fatal Affair

While the film is slick, there are no surprises to this by-the-book thriller. Long, Epps and Stephen Bishop, who plays Marcus, Long's husband, all give worthy performances, but there just isn't much to hold on to in this drama. 

The story goes like this. Long plays Ellie, a successful lawyer with a college-age daughter (Aubrey Cleland) and a supportive husband (Bishop). Although Ellie thinks her marriage isn't popping like it should, she tries to hold on - that is - until an old friend named David, played by Epps decided to reenter her life after 20 years. 

Well, guess what happens? David gets a job with Ellie's firm. Whatta surprise!! As expected, the two meet at a bar for drinks and wham, bam, David makes his move. The two end up in a restroom where they very nearly have sex. It turns out David knew where Ellie worked because he wanted a reunion.

It turns out David her anger management issues and has delusions about his relationship with Ellie.  Things really start heating up after he shows up to Ellie's house with her friend, Courtney, for a dinner party. Courtney is unaware that the two of them know each other. After his persistence becomes a problem, the real drama and terror begins. 

Sullivan plays his hand early, opening the film with a murder scene involving David's ex-wife and her boyfriend. 

There are a number of ways Sullivan could have gone to present this drama, instead, he chose to make it a Fatal Affair

On the DONLOE SCALE, (D) don't bother, (O) Oh, no, N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah), and E (excellent), Fatal Affair gets an N-L (needs work-likeable).

Monday, June 15, 2020

Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival Presents 'Virtual Hot Off The Press' Via Zoom on June 27


          Hot Off the Press is a program of new solo writings presented by talented scribes in staged readings. Usually presented in a theatre with a live audience, our newest show will be performed in a virtual presentation live via Zoom, to conform with current considerations of public health and safety. The new program includes:

            Is There a Doctor in the House?  Written and performed by Lynne Jassem. A lesbian in Oakland meets a true love (at last!), in a romantic odyssey that will take her across the country and over the sea.
           Versatile. Written and performed by Kevin Neighbors. A modern journey through identity and intersectionality. Kevin, a biracial and gay person, wades through the trauma of police brutality. Through poetry, he explores the fate of African-American men when stopped by law enforcement and how it challenges him to own his sexual identity.
            Moments. Written and performed by Sharon Nyree Williams.  The Seattle-based graduate of a historically Black college (HBCU)  utilizes her voice to affirm her love for African-American men and her concerns for their health and safety, as well as trans people in the light of recent headlining events. She takes a look at confrontations with the community and the law enforcement establishment.
            #Boy Mom. Written and performed by April Wish. The mother of a daughter and son worries about what she detects as violent tendencies in the behavior of her little boy. Are these tendencies innate? If so, can they be controlled by nurturance?
            There may be further additions to the program, to be announced.
            
          This program is produced by Michelle Jewsbury (Founder, Unsilenced Voices) and hosted by Jessica Lynn Johnson (CEO of Soaring Solo LLC, director, and consultant) and Juliette Jeffers (actor, director, teaching artist).

          Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival’s Co-Founder and Executive Producer is Adilah Barnes.

HOW TO ATTEND: Saturday, June 27, 2020, at 5 p.m. Virtual Hot Off the Press is an exciting evening of new works written and performed by remarkable authors in staged readings. Presented by the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival. Tickets are $10. Order at https://bit.ly/virtualhotoffpress . A-Zoom link will be sent to attendees after ticket purchase is confirmed.

Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival, a non-profit organization, is supported in part by the City of West Hollywood; City National Bank; Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Arts Commission; Women in Media; KPFK 90.7; and Adilah Barnes Productions.

'RAVAGE' Opens In Theaters and VOD August 21

RAVAGE

The new revenge horror drama RAVAGE (previously titled SWING LOW during its festival debuts), stars Annabelle Dexter-Jones (UNDER THE SILVER LAKE, HOLY MOTORS, "Succession"), two-time Oscar nominee Bruce Dern (ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, PEANUT BUTTER FALCON, NEBRASKA, COMING HOME) and Robert Longstreet (DOCTOR SLEEP, HALLOWEEN KILLS, "The Haunting of Hill House"). The film opens in theaters and VOD on August 21st. 

When a nature photographer explains to the police how she fought her way out of Virginia’s Watchatoomy Valley, they dismiss her crazed and violent story as a meth-induced nightmare. But when they discover that she's telling the truth, it’s too late.

Writer/director Teddy Grennan previously worked as a producer and executive producer on a variety of independent feature films. Prior to writing the script for SAVAGE, Teddy Grennan spent five years in the animation world writing for Nickelodeon and various other studios including Prana. 

Running time: 77 minutes 
Language: English 
Rating: Not Rated
Written and directed by Teddy Grennan. Produced by Marsha Oglesby, Bennett Krishock, and Teddy Grennan. Music by Jacques Bratbaur. Starring Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Bruce Dern, and Robert Longstreet. A Brainstorm Media release.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

BLACK MUSIC MONTH 2020: Celebrities Name Their Favorite Song of All Time


By Darlene Donloe

June is Black Music Month and what better time to celebrate its rich history.

For centuries, Black musicians, singers, writers, and producers have made incredible contributions to the music industry.

This is the month set aside to pay homage to all those individuals who, through their music, have made us smile, laugh, cry, dance, tap our feet, clap our hands and swivel our hips.

President Jimmy Carter officially designated the month of celebration on June 7, 1979. It was during a reception at The White House, which featured performances by Chuck Berry, Billy Eckstine, Little Richard, and Andre Crouch.

On May 31, President Barack Obama declared the month of June 2016 “African-American Music Appreciation Month” in a presidential proclamation. Although June was first deemed “Black Music Month” by Jimmy Carter and campaigned for by songwriter and producer Kenneth Gamble back in 1979, as the nation’s first Black president, Barack Obama felt strongly that an official proclamation was more appropriate.

The proclamation calls Black music “Among the most innovative and powerful art the world has ever known.” President Obama also called upon “Public officials, educators, and people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs that raise awareness and foster appreciation of music that is composed, arranged, or performed by African Americans.”

I caught up with some celebrities and asked them the following: What is your favorite song of All-time?

Sterling K. Brown

Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us) – Let’s Chill by Guy

Russell Hornsby

Russell Hornsby  (Bone Collector) – "As" by Stevie Wonder

Senator Holly Mitchell

Senator Holly Mitchell – "Say It Loud" by James Brown and "Alligator Woman" by Cameo

Louis Gossett Jr.

Louis Gossett Jr. – "Greatest Love of All" by Whitney Houston

Matthew A. Cherry
Matthew A. Cherry (Hair Love) – "Knock Me Off My Feet" by Stevie Wonder

Common

Common – Anything by Michael Jackson

Tiffany Haddish
Tiffany Haddish – "Rinky Dinky Doo"

Asante Blackk
Asante Blackk  (This Is Us) – "The Box" by Roddy Ricch

Alex Newell

Alex Newell (Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist) - "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston


















Monday, June 1, 2020

Lawson Rollins Releases Single 'With The Wind'


The winds of change are upon us and while possessing the power of destruction, wind can also purify, refresh, and foster renewal. It’s the latter that world music guitarist Lawson Rollins had in mind when composing “With the Wind,” the second single from the recently released “True North” album, a collection that the Billboard chart-topper wrote and produced marking his 20th anniversary as a recording artist. The single recently serviced to radio began collecting playlist adds on Monday.

“‘With the Wind’ is an expression of energetic joyfulness. The song emerged out of improvisation - as songs often do for me - so the inspiration was spontaneous and enigmatic as the music flowed naturally, like the steady force of the wind,” said the San Francisco-based Rollins who was named by Guitar Player magazine as one of the “50 Transcendent Acoustic Guitarists” of all-time.

“With the Wind” follows the success of the album’s first single, “Bluewave Bossanova,” which went to No. 1 on the SmoothJazz.com chart, Top 10 on the Mediabase and Groove Jazz Music charts, and Top 30 on the Billboard and Radiowave Monitor charts. Opening with tribal percussion beats, “With the Wind” takes off on an exuberant flight. Rollins crafts whirling gusts of masterful acoustic guitar delivered at alacritous speed and technical brilliance, searing electric guitar accents and snappy beats at cadences that vacillate between a cascading and careening thrill ride mixed with deliberate and dramatic pauses seemingly to allow the listener the opportunity to catch their breath. The track is an eclectic escapade unlike any other recorded by Rollins, who was accompanied by Stephen Duros (additional keyboards and electric guitar), Dan Feiszli (bass), and Dave Bryant (drums and percussion).

Named by Jazziz magazine as one of the “10 Albums You Need to Know,” “True North” displays familiar Rollins’ hallmarks while introducing new and different elements. His prodigious fingerstyle guitar work remains the focal point of the tracks that stylistically serve a melange of contemporary jazz, world music, Latin, and New Age sound. On this outing, Rollins expands his repertoire by playing electric and slide guitars and steel string guitar alongside his signature classical Spanish nylon-string acoustic guitar. He also adds textured synthesizer swatches. Known for embarking on lengthy improvisational explorations, Rollins keeps the tracks tightly focused on “True North,” exhibiting discipline and control.

Exotic travel and exhilarating adventure have long been Rollins’ primary thematic subjects, however, as pictured on the album cover and accompanying photography in the CD packaging, “True North” derives much of its geographic inspiration from a more familiar locale: Rollins’ favorite vacation spot on the Outer Banks in his home state of North Carolina.