Let’s tread very lightly here. In a nutshell: Over the past several days, a group calling itself Guardians of Peace has released scores of files and documents attained via a massive hack of Sony Pictures, reportedly executed in protest of the company’s upcoming release of The Interview, a goofy comedy wherein Seth Rogen and James Franco are sent to assassinate Kim Jong-un. The initial leaks were harmless enough — high-quality downloads of Sony movies — but they quickly escalated to include salary spreadsheets, film budgets, unreleased scripts, medical records, passwords, contact information, and, most damningly, private email correspondences between Sony higher-ups. The whole thing is pretty awful. … Read More
The moment he dropped his 1996 breakthrough stand-up special Bring the Pain, Chris Rock was dubbed the heir apparent of Richard Pryor, one of the few comics on the scene to approach the king’s potent mixture of social commentary, personal confession, and performative brilliance. But that wasn’t all they had in common; Pryor spent most of his film career failing to find a vehicle that captured his unique gifts, and Rock has experienced much of the same struggle. “Richard Pryor has two good movies out of 30 or 40,” Rock told Rolling Stone. “Rodney Dangerfield had one. So it’s easy to look at history and go, ‘Maybe I’m not going to get one’… But I guess you’ve got to make your own history.” And Rock has done just that with his new film Top Five, writing, directing, and starring in a picture that plays like a cross between Stardust Memories, Funny People, and Before Sunset, but refracted through the prism of Rock’s distinctive comic sensibility. So why did it take him so long to make a movie worthy of his talent? … Read More
The title premise and organizing principle of Chris Rock’s wonderful new comedy Top Five is this: you can tell… Read More
Chris Rock has run out of fucks to give. His new movie, Top Five, debuted with a bang at the Toronto Film Festival, igniting a fierce bidding war for distribution — won by Paramount Pictures, which ponied up $12.5 million, more than twice the picture’s production budget. Reviews for the picture, which Rock wrote, directed, and starred in, were rhapsodic; they called it his Stardust Memories. And maybe it’s that position of confidence that’s prompted him, in a flurry of interviews and op-eds, to ravenously bite the hand that feeds him, calling out the movie industry for its intellectual hypocrisy and institutional racism. It’s rather thrilling to watch this razor-sharp celebrity call bullshit, consequences be damned; it’s also a reminder that even the most ostensibly liberal environments are a long way from sunny, “post-racial” America (as if we needed any more reminders of that this week/month/year/etc). … Read More
Chris Rock is making the most of his time in the spotlight, his profile reinvigorated by the upcoming release… Read More
Chris Rock’s new movie, Top Five, premiered at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival to utterly charmed reviews (The Guardian called it “winning”) and the promo that comes with winning the festival buzz by landing the splashiest distribution deal. A meta-comedy about a very famous comedian (Rock) who spends the day giving an interview to a New York Times reporter (Rosario Dawson), the film is small, indie, and Woody Allen-ish, according to Rock. … Read More
“The culture’s changing, and I’m not a part of it. This shit is getting hip. This shit is getting blacker. This shit is getting fucking rappier. SNL is still a pretty white show. When I got hired I was the first black guy in like eight years — and In Living Color was just hip. The shit was hot. I wanted to be in an environment where I didn’t have to translate the comedy I wanted to do,” this week’s SNL host Chris Rock told Marc Maron in 2011 about leaving Saturday Night Live to work on the Fox series created by the Wayans brothers.
“[Playing] a Ubangi tribesman or whatever… to where, not that I thought they were racist… [but I] was the only black face that was going to be seen for an hour and a half… It feels racist. It’s not racist. But it just feels like it when that’s all you see… If you’re on In Living Color and you’re a Ubangi tribesman there was a black thing before that and one right after it. There’s a context.”
SNL has faced a number of diversity issues, but the hiring of cast members Sasheer Zamata and Leslie Jones (who also has a seat in the writer’s room with newcomer LaKendra Tookes) took steps in the right direction, offering guests a more inclusive environment to thrive in. And seeing five African-American actors in a sketch last night, with no caricatures involved, demonstrated why this is essential.
Prince makes a nine-minute appearance in last night’s episode for three numbers (“Clouds,” “Marz,” “Another Love”), with the backing of his band 3rdeyegirl. He wears a pair of appropriate three-eyed sunglasses (and rocks a full-on cat eye when the shades come off) — something us peons couldn’t pull off if we tried. It’s an electrifying performance that doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but confirms Prince still has it. After a tepid showing from Iggy Azalea last week, this is the jolt we needed. … Read More
This week, the Criterion Collection unveiled a new Blu-ray edition of The Vanishing, George Sluizer’s critically acclaimed and bluntly effective 1988 Dutch thriller. But it’s also a film with a tainted legacy, as most American moviegoers are far more familiar with the inferior and ill-conceived 1993 remake, starring Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland, and Sandra Bullock. Yes, it was another case of the disastrous American remake, and rest assured, for every Departed or Birdcage, there are three or four stinkers like these. … Read More