The best of intentions and a welcome willingness to engage on the touchiest issues is not enough to keep this movie from feeling more like a seminar than a story. It betrays its origins as a play, still talky and static. But its ideas are so provocative and its approach so sincere and constructive that it is worth a look.
Sarah Jessica Parker, far away from designer duds and trying to look serious and a little mousy, plays Sarah Daniels, the dean of a small liberal arts college with a genteel, Vermont campus. Some anonymous racist attacks are leveled at a new black student and there is disagreement within the faculty and administration about how to handle it. They schedules a campus-wide meeting, but the students are not invited to speak. A local news reporter (Mykelti Williamson) wants to cover the story but the administration is furious. In the middle of all of this is Sarah, who wants to explore the issue in a substantive and constructive way and acknowledges that she has some internal conflicts she is not proud of.
The title comes from the classic children’s story Little Black Sambo, now considered unacceptably racist. In that story, the tigers chase each other so fast that they spin into butter. Here, the way that the issue is addressed — or sidestepped — leads to a similar result, with everyone racing to avoid responsibility. Out of the best of intentions, at the beginning of the film, Sarah asks a student (the always-superb Victor Rasuk) to change his racial classification from NYrican to Puerto Rican to qualify for a scholarship. It is a good lead-in to a series of discussions, confrontations, and missed communications about America’s most sensitive and least-often honestly discussed issue. The best thing about this movie will be the conversations it inspires on the way home.
“C Me Dance,” the first film produced by Uplifting Entertainment , a new faith-based motion picture company, will open in 200 theaters across the country on April 3. The film is being endorsed by the Leukemia Foundation and the Dove Foundation for excellence in filmmaking. The press release says:
“C Me Dance” tells the story of a teenage girl named “Sheri,” played by new actress Christina DeMarco, who has trained her entire life to dance for the Pittsburgh Ballet. As her dream comes true, she finds out she is dying from a rare blood disease.
Through the illness, God uses Sheri to bring people to Christ, but the devil tries to intervene. Sheri and her father Vince, played by veteran actor, writer and film producer Greg Robbins, are sent on a spiritual adventure to bring revival to America. The movie’s soundtrack features such recording artists as Lincoln Brewster, Eowyn, Stephanie Fraschetti and Terri Shamar.
In conjunction with the film’s release, Uplifting Entertainment is sponsoring an essay contest for middle- and high school-level students.
I like Uplifting’s stated goal: “To Inform With Delight” And I like its mission statement: “Create, produce, package, and distribute Christ centered family entertainment.” I wish them success.
‘Super Capers” is a cute film about a guy with no super powers who teams up with some super-heroes in need of assistance, the “Super Capers.” The story includes good guys, bad guys, stolen gold, a wrongly accused hero, and some surprises. Writer/director/star Ray Griggs says that his mission is “to tell compelling and captivating stories to a family audience so that they may be swept away from reality and lost in the silver screen for a moment in time. I spoke with him about the film.
How did this film come about?
I did an award-winning short, but studios aren’t really inclined to put their money on someone who’s really unknown, so I had to prove myself with an independent film. I tried to use all the resources I had, so I wrote, produced, directed, and starred in it. I thought I might as well do what inspired me to be a film-maker, take a little something from people like Spielberg and Zemekis, put them all into one big melting pot. So, there’s a little bit of “Back to the Future,” a little bit of “Star Wars,” and a little bit of “Superman.” There are a lot of homages to things, like a big 80’s film. Our score is from two guys who work with the great John Williams. And of course there’s Adam West!
Yes, there is! How did it feel to have TV’s Batman, Adam West, involved?
As a kid you’re into watching the shows but don’t think you’ll be one day working with him. I really enjoyed having him as the old superhero — in an adapted Batmobile — driving the young superhero. There are a lot of touches like that, in the costumes and characters, things that adults will recognize but little kids will fall in love with without needing to know where they came from.
The trend these days seems to be superheroes who are complex and troubled, as in “The Dark Knight” and “Watchmen.” But you’ve gone another way, more light-hearted and playful.
We were breaking away from what the traditional movies do. With an independent film I could have had total freedom to do violence, nudity, whatever we wanted. But it also gave us independence to do what we wanted. I wanted it to be for little kids, to inspire them the way I was inspired. The idea comes from me as a kid, wanting to be a superhero and pretending to be one. The main character in this movie has no powers but wants to fit in. He wants it so much he pretends he has powers. A lot of us feel that way.
What superpower would you most like to have?
I’d like to fly, especially today with all the traffic!
How else does the movie reflect your own vision of the world?
Well, the G on the superhero uniform does not stand for Gruberman — it stands for God, the ultimate creator and the ultimate power.
Your short film is about Lucifer, so there is a religious element in both films.
All things are possible with God, and nothing without him. I am grateful to God for my talent. And I feel, why not promote God — there are so many films that don’t. When you do see a Christian on television or in the movies either they are making fun of him or he’s the bad guy.
I have a comic book “prequel” to the movie and will send it to the first person who sends me an email with firstname.lastname@example.org with “Capers” in the subject line.
Talk show star and comedian Ellen DeGeneres has signed on to play Mother Nature in an original upcoming comedy produced by Walden Media, to be written by Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winner Jenny Bicks, Creator and Executive Producer of “Men in Trees” and writer and executive producer of “Sex and the City.” DeGeneres said, “I’m so excited to be playing Mother Nature. I’ve always wanted to control the weather. Nothing will stop me from doing this…neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet…I may be thinking of the postal service. But, I’m really excited about the movie.” DeGeneres is a gifted actress and an engaging performer and I am really pleased to see her joining forces with Walden, which has an excellent record of producing quality movies for families.
Walden Media, which has made a specialty of classy adaptations of great books, was recently honored by The Association of American Publishers (AAP) with the 2009 AAP Honors Award. Founded in 1999, Walden Media has brought various children’s titles to the big screen including Hoot, Holes, Because of Winn-Dixie, Bridge to Terabithia, and Charlotte’s Web, and worked with museums, libraries, and teachers creating educational outreach programs for their films. The AAP honors were inaugurated in 1997 to acknowledge the contributions of individuals and organizations outside the book industry who have helped focus public attention on books and the importance on society. Walden, which makes an effort to encourage kids to read the books that inspire their movies, well deserves this recognition.