Classic Movies & Television
Review: ‘Roots’ for a Black Lives Matter Era Tags: roots black lives matter era word life production new quality entertainment

The original mini-series “Roots” was about history, and it was history itself. Airing on ABC in January 1977, this generational saga of slavery was a kind of answer song to the 1976 Bicentennial celebration of the (white, often slave-owning) founding fathers. It reopened the books and wrote slaves and their descendants into the national narrative.

But as an event, it was also a chapter in that story. It shaped and was shaped by the racial consciousness of its era. It was a prime-time national reckoning for more than 100 million viewers. As a television drama, it was excellent. But as a television broadcast, it was epochal.

The four-night, eight-hour remake of “Roots,” beginning Memorial Day on History, A&E and Lifetime, is largely the same story, compressed in some places and expanded in others, with a lavish production and strong performances. It is every bit as worthy of attention and conversation. But it is also landing, inevitably, in a very different time.

Viewers who watched “Roots” four decades ago have since lived with racial narratives of moving forward and stepping back. They’ve seen America’s first black president elected and a presidential candidate hesitate to disavow the Ku Klux Klan.

So in timing and spirit, this is a Black Lives Matter “Roots,” optimistic in focusing on its characters’ strength, sober in recognizing that we may never stop needing reminders of whose lives matter.

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The first new episode, much of it shot in South Africa, looks stunning, another sign of the cultural times. Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby, in the role made famous by LeVar Burton) is now not a humble villager but the scion of an important clan, and his home — Juffure, in Gambia — a prosperous settlement. Kunta is captured by a rival family and sold into slavery to a Virginian (James Purefoy), by way of a harrowing Middle Passage.

Mr. Kirby’s Kunta is a more regal and immediately defiant character than Mr. Burton’s. But his tragedy is the same: He rebels but fails and is beaten into accepting his slave name, Toby. The name — the loss of identity — is as much a weapon as the whip. As the overseer who beats him puts it: “You can’t buy a slave. You have to make a slave.”

Kunta stops running, but he preserves his traditions, including the practice of presenting a newborn baby to the night sky with the words, “Behold, the only thing that is greater than you.”

That theme of belonging to something larger, of the ancestral family as a character in itself, is essential to “Roots.” Although Alex Haley fictionalized the events of his novel on which the mini-series is based, his story offered black Americans what slavery was machine-tooled to erase: places, dates, names, memories. And that focus keeps the ugliness — the racial slurs, the gruesome violence — from rendering this series without hope. A person may live and die in this system, but a people can survive it.

Still, the individual stories remain heartbreaking, even in small moments, as when the slave musician Fiddler (a soulful Forest Whitaker) recognizes a Mandinka tune he overhears Kunta singing. He’s moved — and, it seems, a little frightened by what the recognition stirs in him. As much as he’s worked to efface his heritage as a survival strategy, it lingers, a few notes haunting the outskirts of his memory.

Kunta’s daughter, Kizzy (E’myri Lee Crutchfield as a child, Anika Noni Rose as an adult), is teased with the possibility of a better life; she grows up friends with the master’s daughter and learns to read. But she’s sold to Tom Lea (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a struggling farmer who rapes and impregnates her. Rape — there are several assaults in this series — is another weapon against identity, another way you make a slave. Ms. Rose burns with Kizzy’s determination to hang on to her sense of self.

Kizzy and Tom Lea’s son, Chicken George (Regé-Jean Page, walking nimbly in Ben Vereen’s footsteps) makes his name raising fighting cocks for his master-father. The series has lighter moments, especially with the charismatic George, but those can quickly turn dark at an owner’s whim. Childhood friends grow up; promises get broken; there are no good masters.

At eight hours over four nights, each with a separate director, this “Roots” is about a third shorter than the original. It focuses less on white characters — gone is Ed Asner’s conscience-stricken slave-ship captain, a sop to white viewers — though there are insights about how class resentment feeds bigotry.

You feel the story’s compression most in the second half, especially the melodramatic, rushed final episode, which works in both the story of George’s son Tom (Sedale Threatt Jr.) — named, under duress, for his slave-master grandfather — and George’s service in the Civil War. This mini-series ends emotionally, but it emphasizes that there is no permanent happily-ever-after: “Every day,” the younger Tom says, “always going to be someone wants to take away your freedom.”

Overall, the remake, whose producers include Mr. Burton and Mark M. Wolper (whose father, David L. Wolper, produced the original “Roots”), ably polishes the story for a new audience that might find the old production dated and slow. What it can’t do, because nothing can now, is command that audience.

As homogeneous as the old-school, three-network TV system could be, as many faces as it left out, “Roots” was an example of what it could do at its best. I watched it when I was 8 years old because it was all anyone was talking about, including the kids in my mostly white small-town school. A generation of viewers — whatever we looked like, wherever we came from, wherever we ended up — carried the memory of Kunta having his name beaten out of him.

Viewers will have to seek out this “Roots,” like every program now. Today’s universe of channels and streaming outlets presents a much wider range of identity and experience. But we see it in smaller groups and take away different memories.

That’s not the fault of “Roots,” of course; it’s simply our media world. The legacy of representation now lives in a constellation of programs, among them dramas like “Underground,” which imagines its slave-escape story as an action thriller; comedies like “black-ish” and “The Carmichael Show,” with their complex ideas of black identity; and this “Roots,” still a necessary story, but now one story among many.

A version of this review appears in print on May 30, 2016, on page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: An Epochal Saga of Slavery, Remade for a Different Time. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe

Source: New York Times

Remembering the Facts of Life Tags: facts life classic television word life production new quality entertainment

The Facts of Life is an American sitcom that originally aired on NBC from August 24, 1979, to May 7, 1988, making it one of the longest-running sitcoms of the 1980s. A spin-off of the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, the series focuses on Edna Garrett (Charlotte Rae) as she becomes a housemother (and after the second season, a dietitian as well) at the fictional Eastland School, an all-female boarding school in Peekskill, New York.

A spin-off of Diff'rent Strokes, the series featured the Drummonds' housekeeper, Edna Garrett (Charlotte Rae) as the housemother of a dormitory at Eastland School, a private all-girls school. The girls in her care included spoiled rich girl Blair Warner (Lisa Whelchel); the youngest, gossipy Dorothy "Tootie" Ramsey (Kim Fields); and impressionable Natalie Green (Mindy Cohn).

The pilot for the show originally aired as the last episode of Diff'rent Strokes' first season and was called "The Girls' School (aka Garrett's Girls)." The plotline for the pilot had Kimberly Drummond (Dana Plato) requesting that Mrs. Garrett help her sew costumes for a student play at East Lake School for Girls, the school Kimberly attended in upstate New York, as her dorm's housemother had recently quit. Mrs. Garrett agrees to help, puts on a successful play, and also solves a problem for Nancy. Mrs. Garrett is asked to stay on as the new housemother but states she would rather remain working for the Drummonds at the end of the pilot.

Following the pilot, the name of the school was changed to Eastland and characters were replaced, with Natalie, Cindy (Julie Anne Haddock), and Mr. Bradley becoming part of the main group featured. Although Kimberly Drummond is featured as a student at East Lake, her character did not cross over to the spinoff series with Mrs. Garrett.

In the show's first season, episodes focus on the troubles of seven girls, with the action usually set in a large, wood-paneled common room of a girls' dormitory. Also appearing was the school's headmaster, Mr. Steven Bradley (John Lawlor), and Ms. Emily Mahoney (Jenny O'Hara), an Eastland teacher who was dropped after the first four episodes. Early episodes of the show typically revolve around a central morality-based or "lesson teaching" theme. The show's pilot episode plot included a story line in which Blair Warner insinuates that her schoolmate Cindy Webster is a lesbian because she is a tomboy and frequently shows affection for other girls. Other season-one episodes deal with issues including drug use, sex, eating disorders, parental relationships, and peer pressure.

The producers felt that there were too many characters given the limitations of the half-hour sitcom format, and that the plotlines should be more focused to give the remaining girls more room for character development. Four of the original actresses—Julie Anne Haddock (Cindy), Julie Piekarski (Sue Ann), Felice Schachter (Nancy), and Molly Ringwald (Molly)—were written out of the show (although the four did make periodic guest appearances in the second and third seasons, and all but Molly Ringwald appeared in one "reunion" episode in the eighth season). Mr. Bradley's character was also dropped and replaced with a generally unseen headmaster named Mr. Harris. (Mr. Harris actually appeared in an early second season episode, "Gossip", played by Kenneth Mars) and Mr. Parker for the rest of the series. In addition to being housemother to the remaining girls, Mrs. Garrett became the school dietitian as the second season began. Jo Polniaczek (Nancy McKeon), a new student originally from the Bronx, arrived at Eastland on scholarship. A run-in with the law forced the four to be separated from the other girls and work in the cafeteria, living together in a spare room next to Mrs. Garrett's bedroom.

The season two premiere of the retooled series saw an immediate ratings increase. By its third season (1981–82), Facts of Life had become NBC's #1 comedy and #2 overall NBC program, beating out its predecessor, Diff'rent Strokes, for the first time.

In September 1985, NBC moved the 7th season of the series to its burgeoning Saturday night lineup at 8:30 PM, as a lead-in for the new series The Golden Girls at 9 PM. In an attempt to refresh the "ratings work horse" and increase ratings, Mrs. Garrett's store was gutted by fire in the season seven premiere "Out of the Fire". The follow-up episodes "Into the Frying Pan" and "Grand Opening" had the girls band together to rebuild the store with a pop culture-influenced gift shop, called Over Our Heads. The changes proved successful as all 3 episodes placed in the top 10 ratings each week. By the end of the season, TV Guide reported, "Facts' success has been so unexpected that scions of Hollywood are still taken aback by it. ... Facts has in fact been among NBC's top-ranked comedies for the past five years. It finished twenty-third overall for the 1985–1986 season, handily winning its time slot against its most frequent competitors, Airwolf and Benson. Lisa Whelchel stated, 'We're easily overlooked because we've never been a huge hit; we just sort of snuck in there.'"

Charlotte Rae initially reduced her role in seasons six and seven, and later decided to leave the series altogether. In season eight's heavily promoted one-hour premiere, "Out of Peekskill" Mrs. Garrett married the man of her dreams and joined him in Africa while he worked for the Peace Corps. Mrs. Garrett convinces her sister, Beverly Ann Stickle (Cloris Leachman), to take over the shop and look after the girls. Beverly Ann later legally adopted Over Our Heads worker Andy Moffett (Mackenzie Astin) in the episode "A Boy About the House". Describing the new changes to The Facts of Life Brandon Tartikoff, NBC Entertainment President, said he "was surprised that The Facts of Life performed well this season, as, with a major cast change and all, I thought it might not perform as it had in the past. Facts has been renewed for next season."

In the ninth and final season, the series aired on NBC's Saturday night lineup at 8 p.m. NBC still had confidence in the series, making it the 8 PM anchor, kicking off the network's second-highest rated night (next to Thursdays). For February sweeps, the writers created a storyline in this season for the episode titled "The First Time", in which Natalie became the first of the girls to lose her virginity. Lisa Whelchel refused this particular storyline that would have made her character, not Natalie, the first among the four young women in the show to lose her virginity. Having become a Christian when she was 10, Whelchel refused because of her Christian convictions. Whelchel appeared in every episode, but asked to be written out of "The First Time". The episode ran a parental advisory before starting, and placed 22nd in the ratings for the week.

Still strong in its timeslot, NBC wanted to renew The Facts of Life for a 10th season, but two of the girls (Mindy Cohn and Nancy McKeon) decided that season 9 should be the end.

In an article titled "Ratings Top with Teens" appearing in the January 19, 1988 edition of USA Today, The Facts of Life was ranked as one of the top 10 shows in a survey of 2,200 American teenagers.

Source: Wikipedia

Timeless Classic that just got better - Annie (2014 film) Tags: annie 2014 Jamie Foxx Quvenzhané Wallis Rose byrne Bobby Cannavale Cameron Diaz

Annie is a 2014 American musical comedy-drama film directed by Will Gluck and produced by Village Roadshow Pictures and Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment for Sony Pictures' Columbia Pictures. A contemporary adaptation of the 1977 Broadway musical of the same name, which was in turn based upon the 1924 comic strip Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray, the film stars Quvenzhané Wallis in the title role and Jamie Foxx in the role of Will Stacks, an update of Daddy Warbucks. The film co-stars Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, and Cameron Diaz.

The third film adaptation following Columbia's 1982 theatrical film and Disney's 1999 made-for-television film, Annie began production in August 2013 and opened on December 19, 2014amidst a scandal over accusations of government hacking in North Korea. The film received generally negative reviews.

In Harlem, a class of young children are doing presentations on former presidents. 10-year-old Annie Bennett (Quvenzhane Wallis) does her report on Franklin D. Roosevelt as a performance piece, and she gets her classmates to join her in by stomping their feet and making noises.

Annie visits a restaurant called "Lou's" where she waits for her parents to show up and finally reclaim her. They never come. Annie gets back to her foster home and rejoins her foster sisters - Isabella, Tessie, Mia, and Pepper. They're looked over by the mean Colleen Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), who used to be a performer and is now miserable for having to take care of the girls. The girls lament not being adopted ("Maybe").

Hannigan wakes the girls up early on Saturday to make them clean their house as an inspector from Social Services is set to arrive ("It's The Hard Knock Life"). The inspector visits, and Hannigan flirts with him. After he leaves, the girls notice that he dropped a document containing their records. Annie takes it and seizes the opportunity to seek out her real parents. Annie stops by Lou's to do some work to get the money needed to get the documents.

Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), a cell phone mogul and owner of "Stacks Mobile" is running for mayor. He is supported by his adviser Guy (Bobby Cannavale), his assistant Grace (Rose Byrne), and bodyguard Nash (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje). Will is a germaphobe and not very popular with voters compared to the current favorite Harold Gray (Peter Van Wagner). Will goes to feed the homeless and tries to eat the mashed potatoes to show how much he cares, only for him to spit it out in the face of a homeless man.

Annie is unable to learn anything about her parents since she's not in the system. She walks home depressed ("Tomorrow"). She sees two boys annoying a dog. Annie runs, yelling at them to stop. Will saves Annie from being hit by a vehicle.

A video of Will's heroic act hits the web, and he moves up several points. Guy suggests to him that he find Annie and use her to make himself look good for the public. Will sends Grace to get Annie.

Will offers Annie his place for a temporary stay. She knows there's a catch, and he admits the plan. She jokes that he could be president if she moved in. The adults get somebody to approve the temporary guardianship for Will. Annie then takes a tour around the place and is impressed with everything ("I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here").

Will sets the plan in motion by allowing Annie out to do whatever she wants. They adopt the dog from the streets (to Will's dismay), and Annie names it Sandy. He later takes Annie and the foster girls to the premiere of a movie called MoonQuake Lake'. The girls are taken back to the foster home, and Hannigan orders them to take back all the nice things they got. She once again bemoans her current position in life ("Little Girls"). Gray gets endorsed by Michael J. Fox, leading Will to get a bit desperate. He decides to take Annie on a ride over the city in his chopper ("The City's Yours").

Annie joins Will, Grace and Guy at the Guggenheim Museum for a Stacks Mobile event called "A Night at The Museum". Will invites Annie up on stage for the people to see her in her red dress. She sings "Opportunity", and the orchestra joins in. After the performance, Guy tells Annie to read a speech that he wrote. Annie is quiet and leaves the stage upset. Will and Grace run after her, and Annie admits that she doesn't know how to read. Will says he will get her a tutor.

Guy devises a plan to get fake parents for Annie to get her off Will's hands. Guy teams up with Hannigan to set their scheme in motion ("Easy Street"), because, if Will looks heroic and reunites Annie with her parents, Guy gets a nice reward. Hannigan later auditions a bunch of actors to play the part, but is not pleased with any of them.

While the film incorporates notable songs from the original Broadway production, written by composer Charles Strouse and lyricist Martin Charnin, the songs themselves were rearranged by Sia and Greg Kurstin to reflect its new contemporary setting. Executive music supervisor Matt Sullivan explained that there was a desire to make the film's use of music "seamless" rather than "abrupt", and to maintain the integrity and familiarity of the musical's most iconic songs, including "Tomorrow" and "It's the Hard Knock Life". The songs were rearranged with a percussive, pop-inspired style: in particular, "It's the Hard Knock Life"—whilst maintaining the use of "natural" sounds for its rhythm, was updated in a hip hop style. Lyrics to some songs were also updated to reflect the differences in the film's storyline and settings. Sia and Kurstin wrote three new songs for the soundtrack, including "Opportunity", "Who Am I", and "Moonquake Lake". Sia additionally co-wrote "The City's Yours" with Stargate.

Sony first announced the remake in January 2011, with Jay-Z and Will Smith serving as producers and Smith's daughter Willow, attached to play the lead role. In February 2011, Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy became front-runner to direct the film, but by March, he had declined.

The production soon began seeking a screenwriter, with actress Emma Thompson being considered. No developments arrived until May 2012, when Will Smith appeared on Good Morning America and provided updates, including that the film would be set in modern-day New York City, that Thompson was providing a script, and that Jay-Z would also provide newly written songs for the film. In July 2012, We Bought a Zoo screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna wrote a second draft of the script. In August, it was announced production was to begin in Spring 2013.

In January 2013, Easy A director Will Gluck was hired to direct, but Willow Smith had dropped out.

By February 2013, Beasts of the Southern Wild star and Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis had replaced Smith in the lead role, and the film had scheduled a Christmas 2014 release.

In March 2013, the search for the rest of the cast continued, with Justin Timberlake rumored for the role of Daddy Warbucks. This was proven false when Jamie Foxx signed on for the role, now named Will Stacks. In June 2013, Cameron Diaz was cast as Miss Hannigan, after Sandra Bullock declined.

In July 2013, Rose Byrne joined the cast as Grace Farrell, Stacks's faithful assistant and in August, Boardwalk Empire star Bobby Cannavale joined the cast as a "bulldog political adviser" to Will Stacks. In September, the rest of the cast was announced with Amanda Troya, Nicolette Pierini, Eden Duncan-Smith, and Zoe Colletti as Annie's foster sisters.

As of September 19, 2013, principal photography had begun. Shooting was done at Grumman Studios. Other scenes were filmed at the new Four World Trade Center.

While "rooted in the same story" according to Gluck, the 2014 film adaptation is a contemporary take on the 1977 Broadway musical and contains some differences from the original: The setting was changed from the 1930's—the era of Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency and the Great Depression, to present-day New York City. The opening school scene features class presentations by both the new Annie, and a student representing her classic appearance, discussing aspects of and parallels between the economic states of the two settings, such as the New Deal and the modern lower class.

The character of Oliver Warbucks was modified to create William Stacks, an entrepreneur in the technology sector (particularly, the mobile phone industry) turned politician, who is trying to run for Mayor of New York City. Annie also no longer lives in an orphanage, but is kept in foster care.

The film officially premiered at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City on December 7, 2014.

On November 27, 2014, Annie was one of several films leaked by the "Guardians of Peace", a group that the FBI believes has ties to North Korea, following its breach of Columbia's parent company Sony Pictures Entertainment. Within three days of the initial leak, Annie had been downloaded by an estimated 206,000 unique IPs. By December 9, the count had risen to over 316,000. The chief analyst at BoxOffice.com felt that despite this, the leak was unlikely to affect Annie 's box office performance.

Annie opened on December 19, 2014 and earned $5,289,149 on its opening day. In the first weekend, the film made $15,861,939, ranking third in the domestic box office behind other new releases The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. As of December 28, the film has grossed $45,835,000 in North America and $1,236,337 overseas for a worldwide total of $47,071,337.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 29% approval rating, based on 115 reviews, with an average score of 4.4/10. The site's consensus reads, "The new-look Annie hints at a progressive take on a well-worn story, but smothers its likable cast under clichés, cloying cuteness, and a distasteful materialism." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 33 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".

Entertainment Weekly described its soundtrack as an autotuned "disaster", noting that "you won't ever hear a worse rendition of 'Easy Street' than the one performed by Diaz and Cannivale—I promise.", and concluding that "aside from an unintentional homage to Zoolander that is so tone-deaf it'll make you guffaw, Annie goes out of its way to make viewing it a hard-knock life for us."

PopMatters magazine rated Annie 3 out of 10, saying "In its aggravatingly choreographed frenzy, the party scene epitomizes Annie, its trying too hard both to be and not be the previous Annies, its trying too little to be innovative or vaguely inspired. It’s as crass as Miss Hannigan and as greedy as Stacks, at least until they learn their lessons. The movie doesn’t appear to learn a thing."

Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave Annie one-and-a-half stars, describing the adaptation as being "wobbly" and "unsatisfying", criticizing the commercialized nature of the plot changes, concluding that it was "finesse-free and perilously low on the simple performance pleasures we look for in any musical, of any period."

IGN.com praised Wallis and Foxx for being "on-point" throughout much of the film, but still felt that Annie was "miscast in a few places, overlong, and filled with unnecessary meta jokes (including one ill-timed Kim Jong-il jab) and social media 'upgrades.'", and that Diaz's performance was "terminally terrible", "making the film instantly un-fun whenever she's onscreen.

Source: Wikipedia

They Live - On Classic Movies and Television Tags: they live 1988 roddy piper word life production new quality entertainment feature blog

They Live is a 1988 American science fiction satirical film written and directed by John Carpenter. The film stars Roddy Piper, Keith David, and Meg Foster. It follows a nameless drifter referred to as "Nada", who discovers the ruling class are in fact aliens concealing their appearance and manipulating people to spend money, breed and accept the status quo with subliminal messages in mass media.

An unemployed drifter referred to as Nada (Roddy Piper) finds construction work in Los Angeles, and befriends fellow construction worker Frank Armitage (Keith David), who leads him to a local shantytown soup kitchen. There, Nada notices strange activity around the church; a blind preacher (Raymond St. Jacques) loudly chastising others to wake up, a police helicopter scouts them overhead, and a drifter (George Buck Flower) complains that his TV signal is continually interrupted by a man warning everyone about those in power. Nada discovers the nearby church is a front: the choir is actually an audio recording and the building is filled with scientific equipment and cardboard boxes. Nada finds a box hidden in the wall, but escapes when the preacher catches him. At night, the police bulldoze the shantytown. Nada returns in the morning to find the church empty, but with the hidden box still there. In an alley, he opens the box and finds dozens of sunglasses. Taking one, he hides the box of remaining sunglasses in a garbage can.

Nada discovers the sunglasses are special. After putting on a pair, he sees the world in black and white and discovers it is not what it seems. Media and advertising hide constant subliminal totalitarian commands to obey and conform. Many in authority and wealthy are actually humanoid aliens with skull-like faces. In a grocery store, Nada confronts an alien woman, who then speaks into her wristwatch notifying others about him. Two alien police officers try to apprehend Nada but he kills them, taking their guns. He goes on a shooting spree, killing several aliens that he encounters in a nearby bank. He sees one vanish using its wristwatch. Nada escapes, destroying a small, flying saucer-like alien surveillance drone and taking a Cable 54 assistant director Holly Thompson (Meg Foster), hostage. At her hill-top home, Nada tries to convince her of the truth. He also begins suffering migraine headaches from using the glasses. Holly does not believe him. Catching him unaware, Holly knocks him through a window and calls the police. Nada tumbles down a steep hillside and escapes, leaving his belongings behind.

Nada returns to the alley, where he finds the garbage can that he hid the other glasses in empty. He sees and enters a nearby garbage truck, where he discovers and saves the box. Frank meets him to give him his paycheck and tells Nada (now considered a wanted man) to stay away. Nada fights with Frank in a long battle, trying to force him to put on a pair of sunglasses. Finally, Nada holds Frank down and puts them on him and he sees the truth. The two rent a hotel room to discuss their predicament. Gilbert (Peter Jason), a member of the shantytown, discovers them and notifies them about a secret meeting with other activists.

There, Nada and Frank are given special contact lenses to replace their sunglasses. They learn from the bearded man's broadcast that the aliens control Earth as their third world, depleting its resources and causing global warming before moving on to other planets. The aliens use a subliminal signal broadcast into people's brains to camouflage themselves. Destroying its source will allow everyone on Earth to see their true form. Frank is given an alien wristwatch, a complex radio and teleportation device. Holly appears, apparently joining the cause before apologizing to Nada. However, the police suddenly attack the meeting, killing anyone in sight while Nada and Frank are cornered fighting their way out. Frank accidentally opens a temporary portal by throwing the watch, through which the two jump into a network of underground passages.

The two find the aliens in a grand hall celebrating with their elite human collaborators. The homeless drifter from earlier, now a well-dressed collaborator, believes the two to be collaborators as well. He takes them on a tour of the passages, revealed to link the alien society, including a space travel port. A further passage leads to the basement of Cable 54 station, the source of the aliens' signal. The two then launch an attack through the building to find the broadcaster on the roof, before meeting Holly and taking her along. As Nada climbs to the signal broadcaster disguised as a satellite dish, Holly kills Frank. Revealed to be a collaborator, she takes aim at Nada and persuades him to stop as an alien police helicopter hovers overhead. Nada complies by dropping his weapon, but then retrieves a hidden pistol from his sleeve and kills her. He then shoots and destroys the broadcaster before being fatally wounded by the aliens in their helicopter. Before he dies, Nada gives them the finger as his last gesture now that he scored the final victory over the aliens. With the signal destroyed, humans are shown discovering the aliens in their midst on television, in a bar, and comically one woman finds the man she is having sex with is actually an alien.

The idea for They Live came from a short story called "Eight O'Clock in the Morning" by Ray Nelson, originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the 1960s, involving an alien invasion in the tradition of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which Nelson, along with artist Bill Wray, adapted into a story called "Nada" published in the Alien Encounters comic book anthology (cover date: April 1986)  John Carpenter describes Nelson's story as "a D.O.A. type of story, in which a man is put in a trance by a stage hypnotist. When he awakens, he realizes that the entire human race has been hypnotized, and that alien creatures are controlling humanity. He has only until eight o'clock in the morning to solve the problem." Carpenter acquired the film rights to both the comic book and short story and wrote the screenplay using Nelson's story as a basis for the film's structure.

The more political elements of the film are derived from Carpenter's growing distaste with the ever-increasing commercialization of 1980s popular culture and politics. He remarked, "I began watching TV again. I quickly realized that everything we see is designed to sell us something... It's all about wanting us to buy something. The only thing they want to do is take our money." To this end, Carpenter thought of sunglasses as being the tool to seeing the truth, which "is seen in black and white. It's as if the aliens have colorized us. That means, of course, that Ted Turner is really a monster from outer space." (Turner had received some bad press in the 1980s for colorizing classic black-and-white movies.) The director commented on the alien threat in an interview, "They want to own all our businesses. A Universal executive asked me, 'Where's the threat in that? We all sell out every day.' I ended up using that line in the film." The aliens were deliberately made to look like ghouls according to Carpenter, who said: "The creatures are corrupting us, so they, themselves, are corruptions of human beings."

Because the screenplay was the product of so many sources: a short story, a comic book, and input from cast and crew, Carpenter decided to use the pseudonym "Frank Armitage", an allusion to one of the filmmaker's favorite writers, H. P. Lovecraft (Henry Armitage is a character in Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror). Carpenter has always felt a close kinship with Lovecraft's worldview and according to the director, "Lovecraft wrote about the hidden world, the 'world underneath'. His stories were about gods who are repressed, who were once on Earth and are now coming back. The world underneath has a great deal to do with They Live."

After a budget of approximately three million dollars was raised, Carpenter began casting the film. For the crucial role of Nada, the filmmaker cast professional wrestler Roddy Piper, whom he met at WrestleMania III earlier in 1987. For Carpenter it was an easy choice: "Unlike most Hollywood actors, Roddy has life written all over him." Carpenter was impressed with Keith David's performance in The Thing and needed someone "who wouldn't be a traditional sidekick, but could hold his own." To this end, Carpenter wrote the role of Frank specifically for the actor.

They Live was shot in eight weeks during March and April 1988, principally on location in downtown L.A. with a budget only slightly greater than $3,000,000. One of the highlights of the film is a five-and-half minute alley fight between David and Piper over a pair of the special sunglasses. Carpenter recalls that the fight took three weeks to rehearse: "It was an incredibly brutal and funny fight, along the lines of the slugfest between John Wayne and Victor McLaglen in The Quiet Man.”

Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a rating of 83%, with the critical consensus saying "A politically subversive blend of horror and sci fi, They Live is an underrated genre film from John Carpenter." Metacritic, an aggregator of film critics' ratings and reviews, gave the film a rating average of 52 out of 100.

In his review for the Chicago Reader, Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote, "Carpenter's wit and storytelling craft make this fun and watchable, although the script takes a number of unfortunate shortcuts, and the possibilities inherent in the movie's central conceit are explored only cursorily." Jay Carr, writing for The Boston Globe, said "[O]nce Carpenter delivers his throwback-to-the-'50s visuals, complete with plump little B-movie flying saucers, and makes his point that the rich are fascist fiends, They Live starts running low on imagination and inventiveness", but felt that "as sci-fi horror comedy, They Live, with its wake-up call to the world, is in a class with Terminator and RoboCop, even though its hero doesn't sport bionic biceps". Allmovie contributor Paul Brenner gave the film three and a half out of five stars.

In her review for The New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote, "Since Mr. Carpenter seems to be trying to make a real point here, the flatness of They Live is doubly disappointing. So is its crazy inconsistency, since the film stops trying to abide even by its own game plan after a while." Richard Harrington wrote in The Washington Post, "it's just John Carpenter as usual, trying to dig deep with a toy shovel. The plot for They Live is full of black holes, the acting is wretched, the effects are second-rate. In fact, the whole thing is so preposterous it makes V look like Masterpiece Theatre". Rick Groen, in The Globe and Mail, wrote, "the movie never gets beyond the pop Orwell premise. The social commentary wipes clean with a dry towelette - it's not intrusive and not pedantic, just lighter-than-air."

The 2012 documentary film The Pervert's Guide to Ideology presented by Slovene philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Žižek starts with an analysis of the film They Live: Žižek uses the main trope of the film, the wearing of the special sun-glasses reveals the truth of that which is perceived, to explain his definition of ideology. Žižek states:

"They Live is definitely one of the forgotten masterpieces of the Hollywood Left. ... The sunglasses function like a critique of ideology. They allow you to see the real message beneath all the propaganda, glitz, posters and so on. ... When you put the sunglasses on you see the dictatorship in democracy, the invisible order which sustains your apparent freedom."

The film opened on November 4, 1988 and debuted at #1 at the North American box office grossing $4,827,000 during its opening weekend. However, the film's audience quickly dwindled and it spent only two weeks in the top ten. The film had a total domestic gross of $13,008,928.Carpenter is on record as attributing the film's initial commercial failure to the hypothesis that "[those] who go to the movies in vast numbers these days don't want to be enlightened". The film's original release date, advertised in promotional material as October 21, 1988, was pushed back two weeks to avoid direct competition with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, which was a success at the box office.

The film was ranked #18 on Entertainment Weekly magazine's "The Cult 25: The Essential Left-Field Movie Hits Since '83" list. Rotten Tomatoes ranked the fight scene between Roddy Piper's character, John Nada, and Keith David's character, Frank Armitage, seventh on their list of the "The 20 Greatest Fights Scenes Ever".

Jonathan Lethem called They Live one of his "favorite movies of the eighties, hands down," and wrote a book-length homage to it for the Soft Skull Press Deep Focus series.

Shepard Fairey also credits the movie as a major source of inspiration, sharing a similar logo to his "OBEY" campaign. "They Live was .the basis for my use of the word 'obey,'" Fairey said. "The movie has a very strong message about the power of commercialism and the way that people are manipulated by advertising.

On November 6, 2012 Shout! Factory released a Collector's Edition of the film on both DVD and Blu-ray.

Legacy

Obey Giant by Shepard Fairey

In 1995 street artist Shepard Fairey added the OBEY slogan to his iconic OBEY Giant street art as a direct homage to the "OBEY" signs found in the film.

In the 1996 video game Duke Nukem 3D, Duke Nukem paraphrases John Nada (Roddy Piper) by saying "It's time to kickbutt and chew bubble gum, and I'm all out of gum."

The fight between Jimmy and Timmy in the 2001 South Park episode Cripple Fight is almost a shot-for-shot recreation of the fight between Nada and Frank.

Film director Darren Aronofsky cited They Live as one of the influences for the hardcore wrestling scenes of his 2008 film The Wrestler.

In the 2012 film Stand Up Guys, Al Pacino and Christopher Walken have the following verbal exchange, which is a paraphrase of a line of dialogue spoken by John Nada (Roddy Piper): "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubble gum."

Val (Al Pacino): "So, what will it be? Chew gum or kick ass?"

Doc (Christopher Walken): "I'm all out of gum."

The fight between Nada and Frank was parodied in the 2013 video game Saints Row IV, with Keith David and Roddy Piper contributing voiceover work to portray themselves. Additionally, later in the same quest, David broadcasts a message similar to the bearded man's over the radio.

Defcon 22, the hacker conference, "do not obey" is displayed on their computerized badges.

Colors - Classic Movies and TV Tags: colors classic movies tv word life prpduction new qulaity entertainment featured blog

Colors is a 1988 American police procedural crime film starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall, and directed by Dennis Hopper. The story takes place in South Central, North West and East Los Angeles, and centers on Bob Hodges (Duvall), an experienced Los Angeles Police Department CRASH Police Officer III, and his rookie partner, Danny McGavin (Penn), who try to stop the gang violence between the Bloods, the Crips, and Hispanic street gangs. Colors relaunched Hopper as a director 18 years after Easy Rider, and inspired discussion over its depiction of gang life and gang violence.

Two white cops, Bob "Uncle Bob" Hodges (Robert Duvall) a respected, 19-year LAPD veteran and rookie officer Danny "Pacman" McGavin (Sean Penn) have just been teamed together in the C.R.A.S.H. unit that patrols East L.A.

The older cop is appreciated on the local streets. He is diplomatic on the surface, preaching "rapport" to gang members to encourage them to offer help when it is truly needed and recognizes that every action cops take is scrutinized by the very people they are trying to help. Hodges explains his view on proceduring to his young partner with a joke about bulls and cows. Although the pair bond quickly, life lessons are seemingly lost on the aggressive, cavalier McGavin, whose stunted actions soon bring him quick notoriety with the local gang members and the people themselves.

McGavin also has a short lived romance with a waitress named Louisa (María Conchita Alonso) who, like the offended Hodges, feels the weight of the Pacman persona. Amidst the strains of these relationships, the murder of a Bloods gang member leads to a series of escalations between two other street gangs. A relentless intertwining of seemingly random incidents culminates in a plot that finds the two partners in the middle of the Crips, Bloods and Hispanic Barrio war. The Hispanic gang led by a criminal named Frog, attempts to negotiate a peace similar to Hodges and steer clear of the melee. To protect his partner, Hodges unwittingly exposes Frog as his source on the Crips leader Rocket (Don Cheadle) with his scheme to kill McGavin. Each group attempts to right the wrongs against their respective crews as police work to prevent the hit and stand their authority over the fall out.

In the end, the unit moves in on the would-be last crew standing - the Hispanic gang. While arresting Frog, Hodges is mortally shot by a gunman trying to enact the hit on McGavin. With medics en route, McGavin comforts Hodges and breaks down with regret as the elder partner falls into delirium and dies.

Sometime later, a more conservative McGavin has a rookie partner, a black cop who grew up in the neighborhood where they patrol and sports an attitude similar to the "Pacman". McGavin tells him the joke about the bulls that Hodges taught him and he reciprocates the advice just the same as he did. The film ends with McGavin considering the cycle as the pair drive on and continue their patrol.

The movie was filmed entirely in Los Angeles in 1987. The original script by Richard Di Lello took place in Chicago and was more about drug dealing than gang members. Dennis Hopper ordered changes, so Michael Schiffer was hired and the setting was changed to Los Angeles and the focus of the story became more about the world of gang members.

Real gang members were hired as guardians as well as actors by producer Robert H. Solo. Two of them were shot during filming.

On April 2, 1987, Sean Penn was arrested for punching an extra on the set of this film who was taking photos of Penn without permission. Penn was sentenced to 33 days in jail for this assault. A soundtrack containing mainly hip-hop music was released on April 15, 1988, by Warner Bros. Records. It peaked at 31 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold on July 12, 1988.

Source: Wikipedia

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