Last Friday, John Digweed broadcasted a special edition of his weekly ‘Transitions’ show celebrating two decades of being on radio. The show featured a special Red Zone guest mix from legendary NYC DJ David Morales followed by Digweed’s first-ever Kiss 100 FM broadcast.
The mother of all festivals, Tomorrowland, is exactly one month away. And we can already start to fill the excitement around this incredible festival.
The Hustle, starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson, is in theaters everywhere Friday, May 10th, 2019.
The economic and security crisis in Venezuela has forced Latin America to react as Venezuelans look for new opportunities elsewhere. The response has been varied: from highly coordinated to nearly nonexistent.
On Sunday night, Fox will air a never before seen two-hour interview special of O.J. Simpson from 2006 titled “The Lost Confession”, hosted by former CNN news anchor Soledad O’Brien.
Roman J. Israel, Esq., a film written and directed by Dan Gilroy, dives deep into the underworld of the Los Angeles criminal court system. Starring Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, and Carmen Ejogo, Gilroy presents a harrowing but hopeful picture of the reality of the justice system and the activism necessary to battle its shortcomings. The Knockturnal‘s very own O.J. Williams had the chance to ask Carmen Ejogo, known also for Selma, Fantastic Beasts, The Purge: Anarchy, and Alien Covenant, a few questions this past weekend about her experience with the film. Ejogo plays a young activist named Maya who enters into an unwitting friendship with the lawyer Roman J. Israel (Denzel Washington).
Q [O.J. Williams]: When you first got your script, what was your initial, first reaction to the project?
A [Carmen Ejogo]: I was struck by how convincing the writing was of the character that I would be playing, of Maya. It can be quite a difficult voice to make sound authentic, the voice of the activist. It can sound like a trope very quickly; it can sound like a stereotype very easily. So, to find a piece of writing that felt like it had real soul and real spirit and depth was really exciting. And then having the visual of Denzel [Washington], which was not what Denzel ended up looking like in the movie at all, which was a complete surprise to me, how he ended up embodying Roman. But I could tell on the page that that was going to be a really sympathetic, complex, interesting character as well. So, there weren’t really many reasons not to want to do it.
Q: You play a young, activist lawyer in the film. What was the most intriguing thing you learned about the U.S. legal system while doing the film?
A: In some roles, you have to get really down into the nitty-gritty of the career part of the character, and then in some roles, hopefully you bring something innate to the character. I don’t have a lot of the jargon to speak, as Denzel does, with his character, I don’t really necessarily have to be as savvy as to the ins and outs of that stuff. So, I really focused more on making sure that the essence of the character felt appropriate. I’m in few scenes in this film, but they had to be moments that really counted in terms of illuminating who Roman was by virtue of the way in which he affects others, and Maya is one of those people. So really it was illuminating what the effect was, was more of my job than maybe understanding the modern legal loopholes.
Q: In the film, your character Maya has to deal with the very eccentric Roman, played by Mr. Washington. How do you deal with eccentric people in real life?
A: I am a little eccentric myself, and I feel more comfortable with people that are a little less than straight-laced. In fact, I feel like I was raised by eccentric. I think I’m most comfortable with people that think a little outside the box, or a lot outside of the box, even. And I also have a great sort of empathy for that type, which is maybe again why Dan [Gilroy] thought I was right for the job to play Maya, because I think embodies that too. She has a patience and an innate understanding of what makes Roman work, or not work. And that’s what makes them good, kindred spirits on this journey.
Q: In this film, Roman is someone you turn to often for advice, or for a re-centering. Who is that for you in real life?
A: Two people come to mind, two sets of people. The first set is my children, who will remind me and keep me in a place of balance, because it is my absolute job to, then, offer them the same in turn. They are very good at keeping me in a place that is a little more rational than I might manage without them. But, not to completely discredit my own sort of influence on myself, I think I somehow over time nurtured the ability to find that within myself in my own personal way to cope and to maintain rationale and a sense of purpose and ability to keep moving forward.
Q: Speaking of children, in the film, there is a scene where a younger character decides to school you and Denzel. Why do you think the young people have a hard time heeding the older generation’s advice?
A: We live in such a youth-based culture that anything past a certain age isn’t valued in the same way. I think it goes both ways; I think there’s a problem with elders and people in positions of power that don’t always appreciate and value our youth in the ways that they ought to, and therefore there is this natural antagonism that then emerges. And a lack of appreciation of the elders that I think should be in place as bastions of wisdom. But if people of an older generation don’t attempt to understand those of the younger generation and have contempt and suspicion of the youth, it’s not surprising that younger people then, in turn, do the same, and then on top of that we do have a culture that really doesn’t celebrate anything as being time-worthy if it tops a certain age. That, I think, really needs to change. For me, speaking as a woman, that’s something I’m very conscious of, as I feel women get more interesting as they get older, somehow in this industry in particular, we aren’t being hit with the same eyes. And it’ll be a great day when we all start to appreciate the wisdom of people getting older. That would be a benefit to all of them, I think.
Q: Speaking of learning, you have a lot of amazing scenes with Mr. Washington. What did you take away from him? Were there any gems, or any tips that you took away from him?
A: I think what was most valuable was to just witness somebody that hasn’t given up on their love of the craft. For someone of that stature that’s reached their age, that’s reached their place in the industry, the potential for having less of a degree of passion for the work could easily set in, and it just hasn’t with him. So that was certainly what I took away from it.
Q: While we’re on the subject of him, in this film, he gives you an “unexpected gift,” as you call it. Have you ever gotten a gift in real life that you later appreciated down the line?
A: I’m very un-materialistic. I’m the worst person to give presents to. I’m one of those people. And so, in the moment, it may be hard to get it right for me, and to give something to me that I feel that I want to keep in the cupboard or keep on a shelf. But I’m learning in myself that despite my lack of materialism, sometimes when things are given to you, even if you didn’t want them, they’re worth keeping around, because they do embody some of the spirit of the person that gave it to you. So, there are several things from people that are close and dear to me that I’m glad I didn’t throw out, even though I may have wanted to.
Q: Mr. Dan Gilroy, we love him as a director. Talk about working with him and what it was like collaborating to pull the character together.
A: I’m madly in love with Dan Gilroy. He is a man of such heart. I don’t say this lightly – this industry is full of all types, and it’s rare that you get somebody that I would describe as being full of heart. It’s a very self-involved industry and business. So, to find somebody as a director, which is a position of ultimate power on the set, that hasn’t lost that sense of heart and compassion and real commitment to the most pure idea of why he’d make that film in the first place, is a really rare thing. And after meeting him once, I had no doubt that his motivations of telling this story were pure. If anyone responds to this film positively, it is for that reason, because the voice from its very beginning was a pure voice. I can’t think of a higher praise you can give anybody than that, frankly. To have a pure voice in the world, as an artist, as a person.
Roman J. Israel, Esq. premieres in New York and Los Angeles Friday, and everywhere else this Thanksgiving. Tickets can be found here: www.romanisrael-tickets.com.
Check out the trailer here.
‘The Rape of Recy Taylor’ is the most important film of 2017. The politically charged film will leave you fired up and ready to make your voice heard. Shortly after the spectacular premiere at New York Film Festival, The Knockturnal gained exclusive access to the film’s panel, featuring Taylor’s brother, scholar Crystal Feimster, actor Cynthia Erivo, and director Nancy Buirski. Catch the commentary below:
Director, Nancy Buirski
On films immortalizing a story:
“So while I was in the middle of making the film I realized these stories were connected … I’ll just say that I met Recy, her family, and Robert the day that Barack Obama as inaugurated. And I went there with my family, I brought them a box of the legal documents and I think it was really import that they weren’t able to find anything and Robert had searched his whole life to find something. And the documents that I had brought back- town, those young men, and the historians in Alabama all tried to erase it and make it disappear and that erasure is anther kind of error and injustice. So the documents brought that back by saying of course what happened to you was real and no one can erase it. And I think this film adds a layer to that. No one can take this away anymore.”
Actor, Cynthia Erivo:
On the role actors play in aiding these stories:
“I feel like my job as an actor is to tell the stories people otherwise wouldn’t get to see or know about. There are things that are hidden and swept under the rug and I get the idea to get them out so there are no longer hidden. And I agree with what Nancy said, once it is part of a film it’s written down forever and can not be erased. So the idea that I was even able to be a small part of this means a lot to me.”
Scholar, Crystal Feimster
On the importance of the film:
“I think one of the things that Recy did was always maintain her humanity as a mother, a sister, and as a daughter. But then also, I think there is also the work that we do at different levels. For me as a scholar who works in the field and works on race and sexual violence-doing that deep work and showing these people as not just victims right. So the documentary does that work, it gives us humanity it shows us humanity, and brings humanity to Recy and her story. And then Nancy picks it up and she sees this as a story that’s to be told, and makes this beautiful film that humanizes the story at every level. So it’s not just we have this black woman who’s brutally assaulted but we have these young white boys who believe they have the right to behave in a certain way. That is part of a long tradition of the south that is not just about a bad apple, but this how racial and sexual violence functions. And you can use different terminology, but it really requires, artist, and historians, and family members to come out and be a voice to this story and we have to voice those wrongs in order to make them wrong.”
The black woman’s body has been viewed under a duo racist and sexist gaze since the founding of our country. Dating as far back to when the first black woman stepped onto U.S soil, blackness had always been ‘othered’: made to seem inferior or exotic in nature. So, it came as no surprise when the black woman’s body became a commodity to U.S slave masters and government officials like Thomas Jefferson. For too long the sexualizing and dehumanizing of black women had been swept under the rug as apart of everyday life, however the 2017 release of the film ‘The Rape of Recy Taylor’ rejects this silence and uses the theatre as a space to hold a mirror up to the face of United States history.
‘The Rape of Recy Taylor’ in title alone, is powerful: forcing you to say her name, and acknowledge what was done that night in 1944. The film is not for the faint of heart, as it deals with heavy realities and tells the story of Recy Taylor, the black woman who was gang raped by 6 white men who were never brought to justice.
Throughout the film, we follow the story of Recy as told by her brother, Robert, and Alabama historians. Director, Nancy Buirski, does a wonderful job of visually mapping and connecting Recy’s case with the heavy involvement women of color have had in pushing the civil rights movement forward. We are given a new understanding of civil rights leaders, like Rosa Parks, who dedicated much of her time post-Montgomery bus boycott to cases of sexual assault against black women.
Buirski does a great job of connecting all of the historical dots. We see how past racial positioning have shaped our current day social standings. No stone goes unturned as, Buirski even examines how the treatment of women of color has its lineage in shaping the way black family roles are set up.
Upon thinking about it, I can not name a film more important in 2017. In the wake of the Charlottesville riots, the film mixes past outrage with a present day viewpoint. The film is so powerful and emotionally charged it will leave viewers wanting to leave the theater to go out and protest more than 70 years later.
We screened the film at the 2017 New York Film Festival.
Lavrov asks to “cool down the hotheads” at the United Nations. Meanwhile, Tillerson doesn’t rule out Military potential in dealing with DPRK.