Tag Archives: dope

2015 A Good Year – Happy Hols/New Year From Marlon Palmer (Kush Director)

Marlon Palmer
Director
18.12.15

 

Happy-Holidays

 

Greetings and salutations (Friends, Fans, Associates & Film Lovers),

It’s December (once again, LOL!) and almost time to end this year and bring in another New Year. Well after we have stuffed our faces, drank more than we can handle and immersed ourselves with family we both love and hate – well it’s got to be done!

This year from a film standpoint of view has been good, starting off with the January release of the much-talked about Selma and then Chris Rock’s ‘Top Five’ in May; two films we worked on. Paramount Pictures actually hired Kush Promotions & PR to market Top Five in 7 cities of the UK and allowed us to manage the budget. To allow us to manage the budget and nationwide-wide campaign was a justification of the 17 years of hard work and determination I have put in developing this business. After May PR work kind of dried up for us as the next big urban releases were from distributors who appear to have an issue with me/Kush; LOL! It appears I have told off the Head of International Marketing at both Sony Pictures and Universal over the years and I have not been forgiven TopFivePoster_smll(daam, I only told them the truth about their poor marketing of particular urban film) well seems like i’m “Blacklisted” – so be it – I will always speak my mind and tell the truth if some don’t like it, so be it! Was upset though, that we missed out on hip-hop films Dope and Straight Outta Compton; Sony & Universal film releases respectively.

Anyway the break away from Film-Marketing/PR was a Godsend (it was needed) as it allowed me to get back fully-focussed on the wide-ranging development of Kush Media. Something I wasn’t truly able to do for two straight years from October 2013 – May 2015 as Kush Promotions & PR became the go-to Specialist Independent PR Company marketing all black films month-after-month here in the UK (shhh! The remuneration was nice though). We also got to work on films like ‘Starred Up’ starring Jack O’Connell and The Maze Runner.

The breakaway allowed me to re-assess things and from that the ‘Kush Film Boutique’ was relaunched and in all that I do (even though it can be hard work) these days; I get the most satisfaction out of seeing the joy, dismay, shock, horror and amazement on patrons faces at our screenings – the wonders of film!

PR/Marketing work paid Kush well, and I strived hard to get to that position and be paid well but during the Top Five campaign earlier this year I realised that I wasn’t enjoying the work, it wasn’t why I started Kush Promotions back in 1998 and sitting in my office managing people (especially some of the difficult people I had to manage across the UK) became all so ‘Soulless’.

I had lost the joy of what I was doing daily and to wrap this part up – I believe in life to truly be successful you have to be fulfilling your life’s purpose and embracing daily the joy of all that you offer – once you lose that joy it’s time to reassess!

Anyway it’s going to be a very exciting end to the year with the massive impending release this week of Star Wars: The Force Awakens starring local Peckham Lad John Boyega whom we star-wars-force-awakens-posthankfully had time to meet whilst managing PR/Marketing for the film “Half A Yellow Sun” last year.

Straight away from speaking to John I knew he would be a star he was so down to earth, well-spoken and assured in his manner – definitely a star in the making and I said so at the time.

I can’t wait to see how well he exudes his persona off the big screen as the character ‘Finn’ in this massive blockbuster film; I’m sure he has done a fine job otherwise we would have heard already especially with all the earlier ignorant social media commotion about a “Black Stormtrooper”.

I won’t even go into that foolishness as it will bring down the tone of my newsletter and inveigle me into talking about dumb people from another galaxy!

Congratulations to rising star John Boyega and all the other British actors in the film (Daisy Ridley), and as a Star Wars fan it’s also great to see the old stars back; Harrison Ford as Hans Solo, Mark

John Boyega

Hamill as Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia and of course Chewbacca.

As you may have guessed I’m a sci-fi nut and love all films that expand our psyche to places unknown in the big ole galaxy. Bring on Superman vs Batman, Captain America: Civil War, Suicide Squad, Star Trek Beyond (with Idris Elba) and daam give me Black Panther now!!

Don’t forget get your tickets for ‘The Force Awakens’ this weekend! I’ve Got Mine

Wishing you all a fantastic Christmas, a blessed Kwaanza and a harmonious Eid plus a totally great New Year.

Keep Believing and doing!
Marlon Palmer

Film Review: Dope

Written by Jeff Bannis
02.09.15

 

 

Dope_Banner

What can one say about DOPE? Firstly, that it’s a far more intelligent comedy than the usual Hollywood effort.  It also has a cast list packed with young talent that will entertain and charm the most hard-bitten of cinema-goers.  On top of that, there are some thought-provoking moments that really hit home.

The opening scenes, where we meet Shameik Moore‘s Malcolm establish him as a nerdy kid who, in the best traditions of high school comedy, is mercilessly bullied by jocks.  In voiceover, Malcolm complains he is unpopular because he does “white stuff”, like read books.  Malcolm is obsessed with 90s rap music, as are his friends Diggy and Jib (played by Kiersey Clemons of Transparent and Tony Revolori of Grand Budapest Hotel).  One’s a lesbian, the other is just odd,  like Malcolm they’re also outsiders.
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When not on the run from the jocks, our geeky chums like to play in their rock band, Awreeoh (geddit?) or hanker after girls. Malcolm’s current crush is on smart ghetto girl Nakia, played by Zoe Kravitz. Nakia also attracts the amorous attentions of hood-with-a-heart, Dom (A$AP Rocky).

Set in a tough neighbourhood, named “the Bottoms” in the film but in reality a thinly disguised Inglewood LA, its only a matter of time before the eponymous illegal substance rears its head.  Finding himself in accidental possession of a massive drugs cache, Malcolm has to figure out a way to avoid the law and keep various drug-dealing villains off his tail while securing a scholarship to Harvard. Piece of cake!
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Its a complex set-up but there are some truly funny lines along the way. DOPE has a winning cast, some genuine laughs and the film’s light approach persuades you to stick with it. It’s a departure from its producer, Forest Whitaker‘s last success, the excellent Fruitvale Station, although the two share the same camerawoman.

On the demerit side, for a film that sets out to debunk black stereotypes, DOPE misses its targets.  Malcolm and his friends all love 90s rap, so why do they choose to express this through dated, post-punk pop music (courtesy of executive producer Pharrell Williams)?  The stuff Awreeoh perform really is rubbish but its presented, embarrassingly, as quality.  Now, perhaps its aimed at the assumed demographic for a John Hughes-influenced teen comedy, but its inclusion here implies that rock is the default musical form for intelligent teens, rather than just for white people.  Why don’t Awreeoh just make 90s-style rap?

On a similar note, in a piece direct to camera, Malcolm challenges the audience to examine their supposed surprise that he wants to go to Harvard.  This falls flat because “disadvantaged kid achieves excellence” is such a well-established trope in Hollywood, we can all write this film’s ending. Who exactly do the makers think will part with hard cash to see this film?  For its likely audience, it isn’t a revelation that black youths strive to achieve – it’s a revelation when they make it.

Rick Famuyiwa is not a debutant director – his forthcoming HBO movie, Confirmation, which stars Kerry Washington as Anita Hill will doubtless raise his profile even further.  But DOPE’s weak points are due to his uncertain handling of tone, especially noticeable in intimate scenes.
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The film scores hugely when it throws the over-complex storyline away for a while and lives in the moment. The LAPD need to put out an APB on model-turned actress Chanel Iman right now, because she absolutely steals this movie with a hilarious cameo.  It doesn’t play any part in the story but it’s genuinely funny, sexy and lifts the whole endeavour into the arena of anarchic fun that is surely the initial intention of every comedy writer.

It’s not giving much away to say that DOPE has a happy ending.  In a manner that’s not fully expounded on-screen, Malcolm acquires a backbone and starts standing up for himself.  The fact that he shows this by selling drugs and in a willingness to use violence undermines the film’s message somewhat but it puts necessary story elements to bed.

Dope has great entertainment value and is ambitious in trying to satirize the stereotyping of black people as criminals and their white clientele as warm, freedom-loving human beings.  If in rounding all the bases it loses its way, it should be forgiven if only because it takes such a refreshingly grown-up stance on stubbornly immovable social barriers.

© 2015 Jeff Bannis
kushfilms.com

Dope In Cinemas 4 Sept

Meet The Artiste: Filmmaker Rick Famuyiwa

Zoe Kravitz stepping out of Father’s shadow

Written by Cheryl Rock
04.08.15

 

 

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Zoe Isabella Kravitz, is beginning to carve a name for herself, of course who she is related to might help somewhat and may also hinder her. For her parents are Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet. Born 1st December 1998, she has had fitted in quite a lot in her 26 years so far, not only starring in blockbuster movies, modelling and fashion, In 2013, Kravitz released a jewellery line in collaboration with the Swarovski crystal company. And making music too. She formed a band called Lolawolf, named after her younger siblings which she formed with two others. They toured with headline artistes Lily Allen and Miley Cyrus in 2014. Their music is a mix of synth-and-drum-driven R&B dance tracks, which critics have been praising.

Her desire to remain grounded and “normal” is admirable. In an interview for Complex she explained all she wanted to do was to fit in when she was younger, and wanted to prove to people she was normal. Some wanted to be her friend because of famous parents, others shunned her for it.

In high school she suffered from anorexia and bulimia, which she attributes partly to it being zoe-kravitz-healthyinvolved in the fame world and felt the pressure, she admits to having difficulty in loving herself. In the last couple of years she has been able to manage it.

Zoe stars in a movie called The Road Within (2014) in which she plays a girl with the anorexia, and she wasn’t sure if she was strong enough or disciplined to not let it affect her in real life. It caused her parents to be concerned. After the film wrapped in 2014, she did become sick and malnourished. Recording with her bandmates, Lolawolf, she said helped her take her mind off it while she began to gain weight.

Having got a part in X Men First Class in 2011 and After Earth in 2013, she is now part of the Divergent series which have proven to be successful, also starred in the new Mad Max:Fury Road reboot and the soon to be released hip-hop action comedy ‘Dope’, in which Pharrell Williams and Puff Daddy are Executive Producers.

Zoe plays Nakia, possible love interest to young Malcolm, who is a geek. His dream is to attend Harvard while carefully surviving his environment which is a bad neighbourhood in Inglewood surrounded by gangsters and drug dealers. He gets invited to a party by chance, which ultimately changes his life, if he gets through his adventures, he will go from being geek to being dope. Or just being himself.Zoe_Kravitz_Dope

Kravitz has a busy couple of years ahead promoting and filming. Having recently filmed Good Kills, with Ethan Hawke and January Jones, romantic comedy Pretend We Are Kissing; and there is also two more films in the Divergent series, Allegiant part 1 & 2 in the pipeline.

Could Zoe actually leave behind her acting/singing career—and the fame? She tells Complex: “Totally,” she says. “I’m so into what I’m doing right now, but I’m not going to do this forever.” Her interests are to do photography and set design or farming.—things she’s passionate about.

But in the meantime, we are only going to be seeing more of Zoe Kravitz as she rocks the big screen.