Film & TV

Is Reality Series 'Cosby Show' for Muslims?

Suzanne Manneh and Zaineb Mohammed

From New America Media: Has a Bill Cosby show equivalent finally arrived for Muslim-Americans with the TLC network’s reality series, “All-American Muslim”? The series, which premiered on November 13th,  could be that first step of offering an alternative image to common stereotypes for American Muslims.  It centers around five Muslim-American families who all have roots in southern Lebanon, living in the Detroit, Michigan suburb of Dearborn.

Love, Sex, and Pushing the Envelope in Bollywood

Sandip Roy

From New America Media and FirstPost: “Sex is now our guilty pleasure [in India],” says Imran Khan. "Watching it on screen gives us the comforting illusion that our taboos are shrinking as if liberation was all about libido. “But people’s personal freedoms are being eroded around them,” Khan adds. “And they just don’t notice.” Meanwhile around us, the nanny state keeps expanding. No drinking until you are 25. No dancing in the pubs. No commentary on gods and goddesses in your art. No talking about anything that can upset anybody....

Video Verdict (Week of November 14)

Forrest Hartman

Tom Hanks has an extensive filmography as an actor and producer, but he’s not nearly as prolific as a director. During his career, he’s helmed a handful of TV projects, but – prior to this year – his only attempt at directing a feature film was 1996’s “That Thing You Do!” After a 15-year wait, Hanks decided to direct again, producing “Larry Crowne,” a film he co-authored with Nia Vardalos (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”).

Video Verdict (Week of November 7)

Forrest Hartman

Film lovers have seen plenty of body-swap comedies over the years, but “The Change-Up” offers a fresh and irreverent take on the genre. The action revolves around the relationship between Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman) and Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds), childhood pals with drastically different approaches to adult life. 

You Ought to Be in Pictures

Zach Napolitano

There now exists an unprecedented opportunity to become the next Sir Laurence Olivier or Guy Standing at Bar. Thanks largely to Sofia Coppola, daughter of famed director Francis Ford Coppola, for single-handedly butchering The Godfather Part III (starring as Mary Corleone), and, oddly enough, the adult film industry for bringing casting couch sexploitation to the fore of public consciousness, two traditional barriers to acting—nepotism and/or a requisite lacking of dignity—have largely been eradicated. 

Video Verdict (Week of October 31)

Forrest Hartman

Director Francis Lawrence (“I Am Legend,” “Constantine”) and screenwriter Richard LaGravenese (“Beloved,” “The Horse Whisperer”) have taken liberties with their film adaptation of novelist Sara Gruen’s “Water for Elephants,” but the changes shouldn’t upset anyone, as the result is a well-produced Depression-era love story. 

Video Verdict (Week of October 24)

Forrest Hartman

It’s been a great year for Marvel, as three of the comic book company’s superhero titles have made their way to the big screen, each garnering critical praise and respectable box-office numbers. “Thor” got things started in early May, followed closely by “X-Men: First Class.” “Captain America: The First Avenger” hit theaters most recently, and it maintained the high quality set by the earlier films. 

The 30th Annual Pordenone Silent Film Festival

Maggie Hennefeld

The annual Silent Film Festival (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto) has been attracting increasingly larger and more youthful crowds of silent film enthusiasts to Pordenone, Italy. Inhabiting a media culture in which portable film screens feel more and more like sensory extensions of one’s own body—from the iPod Touch to the all-encompassing, visceral thrills of 3-D IMAX—it is nothing short of spectacular to witness a hand-tinted, science-fiction film from 1902 manage to fill Pordenone’s palatial Teatro Verdi to the limits of its capacity. 

Video Verdict (Week of October 17)

Forrest Hartman

Writer-director Kevin Smith’s latest project has probably attracted more attention due to Smith’s pre-release antics than for the movie itself. Leading up to the Sundance film festival, the filmmaker promised to sell “Red State” in an auction at a special festival event. Then, at that event, he announced that he was purchasing the movie for self-distribution. This created controversy in the industry, and the film ultimately received an extremely limited theatrical release before becoming an on-demand option Sept. 1. This week, “Red State” is getting a wider rollout on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download. 

Video Verdict (Week of October 10)

Forrest Hartman

Only time will tell if “Tree of Life” becomes an all-time great, but it is certainly one of the most intriguing films released this year. The movie is hard to describe because it is so sweeping in scope. Terrence Malick has always strayed from traditional storytelling and added elements of visual poetry to his films. Here, he takes that predilection to the extreme, adding lengthy sequences of footage that are backed only by music tracks and never completely explained.

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