Category Archives: film

Heeeere’s Janet! The “For Colored Girls…” Movie Posters Debut

Here’s one of the series of character publicity posters for Tyler Perry’s upcoming film adaptation of Ntozake Shange‘s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf… You can see the rest of them by clicking here and going to the film and media site Shadow and Act. Funny, though: I’m guessing Janet’s playing the Lady in Red, but the poster says she’s playing a character named Jo. I don’t recall the characters in the play having actual names, do you? I’m personally still out on how I feel about any adaptation of one of my favorite plays. But I’d love to hear what you think.


Filed under film, flicks

The SPB Q: Barry Michael Cooper

{I remember seeing New Jack City the first time and thinking, Damn, my friend wrote that! I also remember tearing up at the end of Sugar Hill and thinking the same thing. Both viewings were in small New York screening rooms and both times I was with a little crew of friends, all of whom pretty much had a similar relationship that I did to award-winning journalist and (now successful screenwriter) Barry Michael Cooper—he was a mentor, a friend, a hero.

When it came to mentors during my early days at the Village Voice, I was like a kid in a big left-leaning ink-stained downtown candy store. I learned many things from many peeps; I learned how to keep it real, both in life and on the page, from Barry Michael Cooper. The first day we met, I was a bit intimidated: This was the kat who’d written that brilliant Voice story about Teddy Riley (the writer who’d invented the term “New Jack Swing”) as well as the devastating article that gave New Jack City its name (“Kids Killing Kids: New Jack City Eats its Young”)—what was I gonna say to him? But I didn’t have to say much. Before I could let him know how great I thought he was, he was telling me how much he liked my nascent, New Jack stabs at journalism. The second time we met, later that week, me, him, and Ben Mapp (a writer and copy editor at the Voice, and a dear friend) spent about five hours on a bench down in SoHo, talking about everything under the sun…or the moon, as it were, in that late-night case.

I hadn’t met many writers by that point—I was a recent college dropout thinking he could make it as a journalist in early 90s NYC—but after meeting Barry, I didn’t have to. Talking to him, about any and everything, was like a master class in life: he told me Harlem stories, he told me Village stories, he told me B-More stories, he waxed well about movies as much as music. He seemed to have a laser beam where other people merely had a brain, scooping up knowledge and blasting it back around with the quickness. Barry once called me F. Scott Poulson-Bryant—before he even knew how much I loved Fitzgerald’s work. I laughed it off—I had to, of course; what writer wants that pressure on his neck?—but it secretly gave me a boost of confidence that I was onto something in this writing game.  When I wrote my Puff Daddy profile for VIBE in 1992, the first call I got about it was from Barry, telling me how good he thought it was. I had to tell him: I couldn’t have written it without his Teddy Riley story setting the stage.

Nowadays, we don’t see each other as often as we did when we were NYC’ers on the journalism grind, but BMC’s always in my heart and on my mind. So if we’re not tweeting each other or emailing, I’m checking out his blog Hooked on the American Dream, where he posts news and information (he also writes for The Huffington Post) as well as some of his old articles and tributes to some of the hiphop greats who defined eras. Go there right now and read “Mary J. Blige: Our Lady of Glamorous Sorrows,”  from the Andre Harrell memoir Barry worked on in 2008. Or check out the “The Diary of Nino Brown,” a novella that’s the prequel AND sequel to New Jack City. I’m so glad to have Barry doing the SPB Q. After years of chat I sorta knew what some of the answers would be; but, typical of Barry, he still managed to surprise me in some ways. Just as he always will. Hope you enjoy!}

Name: Barry Michael Cooper

Hometown:   Harlem, New York, NY

Zodiac sign:   Not sure. My birthday is in the second week of June.

Favorite book: The Bible (and after that Crime and Punishment and Native Son)

Favorite author: GOD (and after that Fyodor M. Dostoevsky and Richard Wright)

Favorite movie: The Godfather Part II (and after that The Conformist and Sugar Hill)

Favorite song: Marvin Gaye’s “Wholly Holy” (but really, too many to mention)

Fictional character you wish you had created: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (and after that Bigger Thomas)

Career High: The release of both Sugar Hill and Above The Rim in the same year (1994), a month apart from each other (February 25th and March 23rd, 1994. The first time a Black screenwriter had accomplished such a feat. GOD Is Great.)

Life High: Me being in the delivery room for the births of each of my two wonderful Sunz.

You’re on a desert island and can only have 5 CDs/books/ or DVDs shipped in to you. What are they?

Wow. Okay.


  • Marvin Gaye What’s Going On
  • Curtis Mayfield, Super Fly
  • Omar, Best By Far
  • Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, Jesus Gave Me Water
  • Parliament-Funkadelic, Funkentelchy and the Placebo Syndrome


  • The Bible
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Native Son
  • Garry Wills, Nixon Agonistes
  • Gay Talese, Honor Thy Father


  • The Godfather Part II
  • The Godfather
  • Sugar Hill
  • The Conformist
  • There Will Be Bloood

Your favorite quote: “What shall we then say to these things? If GOD be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

Guilty pleasure: Café Cubano and/or Ethiopian coffee.

Go here to read Barry’s Teddy Riley profile: Hooked on the American Dream.


Filed under film, The SPB Q, Uncategorized, writing

Race, Fandom, and The Years of Living Mel-lessly

{I know the right way to approach the Mel Gibson story (if you don’t know about his racist, misogynistic outbursts caught on tape you  might wanna read this first) is to be either hiply cynical (y’all sure he didn’t say nigga?) or just casually jaded (racism! from Mel? whatever, man!), but maybe cause I was a fan, neither approach satisfies me. I’m too old to be shocked, yet too shocked to avoid it…}

I’m one of those people who likes to know which movies people consider their favorites. Especially if I sense you might be a person I might get close(r) to: I ask, very early on, “What’s your favorite movies?” It’s not that I judge their tastes—God knows I’d prefer someone to have very bad taste than no taste at all—it’s more that I like to learn from others, and if you seem cool, your choices in movies might be cool, and I’ll discover something I didn’t know about.

I’m also the type of person who, depending on the day, will try to make sure that you see at least some of the movies that I love—partly because I have a tendency to quote them, but also because sharing flicks is, to me, sharing a deep part of me: the movies I love really do, like the books I love, I think, define who I am. I am a fan, and proud to call myself one, someone who nonetheless understands and relishes his fandom as a complicated site of oft-needed pleasures and cultural belonging.

Two movies I’d always refer peeps to: The Year of Living Dangerously (problematic in some ways but oh so sexy) and Tequila Sunrise (problematic in other ways but endlessly fascinating as an investigation into the nuances of male friendship). Both because I think they’re top-notch examples of Hollywood filmcraft, rich of character and ambience, filled with grace notes of longing and loss, and because they starred one of my very favorite movie stars: Mel Gibson.

Suffice to say, it’s been years since I’ve watched a Mel Gibson movie. Dating back to 2006, to be exact.

When I was a teenager, Mel Gibson was The Man: coming off the over-the-top action of the Mad Max flicks, he was infinitely watchable in the Lethal Weapon flicks, and by the time I was an adult, Mrs. Soffel and Gallipoli (which I discovered late), showed him off to be quite the actor, equipped to perform touching moments that felt real and true, who also had—compared to other big stars—impeccable taste in material and the directors he worked with. And though I saw Payback and Signs, the last Gibson film I can say I really liked was Ransom. A Ron Howard throwback to high-Hollywood suspense burnished by a sleek contemporary world-weariness that wore well on its entire top-flight cast, Ransom felt in many ways like Mel cementing his eventual Clint-ness (as in Eastwood)—as wrinkles deepened along with the presence, as maturity began to take the place of rip-roaring braggadaccio.

I didn’t much love Braveheart; it felt a little over-determined to me, and I won’t even get started on the blatantly nasty homophobia that marred the representation of King Edward as such a complete, I don’t know, nelly(?), that he might as well have been—as the direct opposite to “masculinity” in which he was portrayed—literally, a Queen. Thinking back, was this the beginning…?

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Filed under film, flicks, Race, Rants, Uncategorized

Catching Up…

Quote of the Day: “The freaks are rising up through the floor …” Oasis, “Bag It Up”

Getting Updated: 
  • The year’s almost over and I’ve heard a bunch of new records but the only one I’ve been playing over and over and over again is Dig Your Soul Out by Oasis. It really is my favorite Oasis record since What’s the Story Morning Glory. I know, I know: you’ve heard that before. But this time it’s true. I believe you have to love any CD that quotes the Beatles AND LaBelle in one track. And though there aren’t as many stadium-shout sing-a-longs as there have been in the past, the songwwriting is, for the most part, crisp and full of the kind of Oasis balls-out swing that still marks them, really, as the last real rock stars. And Noel Gallagher has written a song called “Falling Down” that is, far and away, one of the best songs he’s ever written: it somehow manages to be atmospherically autumnal, groovy, and rocking all at the same time. Sublime.
  • Speaking of, the new reunion single by LaBelle sounds wack. Other judgment withheld til I hear the whole album.
  • For some reason this past summer I watched a slew of Paul Newman flicks. I watched, in the span of about three days: Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, From the Terrace, Hud, The Long Hot Summer, and Sweet Bird of Youth. I also watched, in that same span, a coupla Marlon Brando flicks: A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront. I know that Brando’s considered the greatest–and I do think he’s done some of the best screen acting in the history of screen acting, especially in Waterfront and The Godfather–but when I think about Newman, who was in the same generation of 1950s-launched hearthrob/serious actors with Brando and Dean and Montgomery Clift, I have to believe that Newman really was the best. The most professional, the most versatile, the one who, at the end of the day, lasted, and left a body of work that transcended time, genres, and generation. Go watch Sweet Bird of Youth, if you can. Or The Sting. Or Hud. Or Cool Hand Luke. Watch Newman’s agile way of finding the depth in his often callow characters. Then come back and tell me that Brando–who did change the way the game was played–was anywhere as fluid and subtle a player as Newman. And, to quote cinematographer Conrad Hall, he was just so freaking beautiful…RIP Mr. Newman.

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Filed under film, music