Posts Tagged ‘Jay-Z’


Fast reviews for busy people! Watch as I review three movies in less time than it takes to strum a guitar! Have a look as I race against the clock to tell you about the musical “Mean Girls,” the buzzy “The Beekeeper” and the divine “The Book of Clarence.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


I join “CTV News Toronto at Five” with host Natalie Johnson, to talk about the high school the musical “Mean Girls,” the buzzy “The Beekeeper” and the divine “The Book of Clarence.”

Watch the whole thing HERE! (Starts at 14:39)


I join CP24 anchor Andrew Brennan to have a look at the high school the musical “Mean Girls,” the buzzy “The Beekeeper,” the divine “The Book of Clarence” and the drama “Freud’s Last Session.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!




I join CTV NewsChannel anchor Renee Rogers to talk about the high school the musical “Mean Girls,” the buzzy “The Beekeeper,” the divine “The Book of Clarence” and the drama “Freud’s Last Session.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the high school the musical “Mean Girls,” the buzzy “The Beekeeper,” the divine “The Book of Clarence” and the drama “Freud’s Last Session.”

Listen to the whole thing HERE!


THE BOOK OF CLARENCE: 3 ½ STARS. “Funnier than ‘Ben Hur’!”

Set in Jerusalem in the year 33 A.D., “The Book of Clarence,” now playing in theatres, is unlike any other biblical epic.

Funnier than “Ben Hur” and more faith-based than “Monty Python’s Life of Brian,” it has to be the first biblical story to feature chariot races, a disco dance number and language that might make your pastor blush.

“Atlanta” star LaKeith Stanfield is Clarence, the “village mischief-maker” (and resident drug dealer) who admits, “I am not a man without faults.” And how.

His twin brother Thomas (also played by Stanfield) is an Apostle, but Clarence is too busy trying to hustle a buck to buy into any kind of organized religion.

But when he loses a chariot race to Mary Magdalene (Teyana Taylor) and ends up deep in debt to merciless gang leader Jedediah the Terrible (Eric Kofi Abrefa), he takes note of the attention Jesus Christ (Babs Olusanmokun) is getting and hatches a plan to present himself as a new Messiah sent by God.

“I can just replicate what he does,” he says. “Imagine the money people will give us.”

John the Baptist (David Oyelowo) calls him a “blasphemous swine,” but his pals Elijah (R.J. Cyler), Zeke (Caleb McLaughlin) and Barabbas (Omar Sy) are all in. Thomas, however, has doubts. “You know what it takes [to be spiritual],” he says, “but you do not possess what it takes.”

“Clarence,” says Elijah, “you need miracles.”

“I have a plan,” says Clarence.

Just as Clarence gains traction as a new Messiah, however, Pontius Pilate (James McAvoy) and the Romans crack down, announcing, “Clarence, you are guilty of the crime of fraud for your ill-gotten gains.”

Subversive, yet somehow solemn, “The Book of Clarence” is a brash alternate gospel buoyed by Stanfield‘s charismatic performance. For much of its running time writer/director Jeymes Samuel presents an irreverent biblical reimagination, but then takes a pious, respectful u-turn in the film’s final third.

Before the traditional ending, Samuel takes us on a wild ride where Clarence and his friends float through the air, high on “lingonweed,” while the soundtrack plays like a best of old Hollywood with a contemporary bent to catch the ear. It’s bold, with traditional epic style photography and setting (it was filmed in the ancient city of Materna, Italy) mixed with Samuel’s often restless camera. It’s brash, exciting filmmaking that gives the biblical epic genre a facelift.

As Clarence, Stanfield leads the cast, and it is his shift from shiftless charlatan to conscientious do-gooder, that lies at the heart of the story. Clarence doesn’t suddenly become religious, he simply accesses the good part of his humanity, by thinking of others before himself. It’s this performance that smooths the film’s abrupt shift in tone, from sweeping epic to a personal story of suffering and redemption.

Clarence’s mother, played by Marianne Jean-Baptiste, tells him, “Be the body, not the shadow. Hold space,” and it’s clear Stanfield took the advice to heart. The final third is more traditional, less bold than the first two, but Stanfield’s magnetism keeps it on track.

He’s aided by an eager supporting cast, including McAvoy, who is equal parts imperious and manipulative as Pontius Pilate, Sy as the immortal and loyal Barabbas and Oyelowo as a quick-tempered John the Baptist.

“The Book of Clarence” is so layered, so original its reimagination of the gospel and pointed look at racism, that the odd misstep, like a third act miracle that seems like a plot contrivance rather than an organic story element, is easily forgiven.

Canada AM: The most bizarre and buzzworthy pop culture moments of 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 10.17.03 AMCanada AM: The most bizarre and buzzworthy pop culture moments of 2014 with Richard, Marci Ien, Graham Richardson and Jon Dekel. They chat about Kim Kardashian’s Paper magazine cover trying to break the internet, the Solange Knowles fight with Jay Z captured on a security camera, Ellen’s Oscar selfie, and Shia LeBeouff’s “I’m not Famous Anymore” stunt.

Watch the whole thing HERE!


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1_371x496The phrase “Fun for the whole family” takes on a new meaning around Christmas time. The kids are on winter break, grandma and grandpa have come to visit and Cousin Ethyl still has last year’s gravy stains on her Christmas sweater. How do you keep everyone entertained once the gifts are opened, the eggnog is all gone and everyone is sick of turkey leftovers?

You go to the movies. Grandma might not enjoy the drug-fuelled excesses of Joaquin Phoenix’s latest, Inherent Vice and at 142 minutes Exodus: Gods and Kings is probably too long for young attention spans, but there are a couple of films opening in theatres the whole clan can enjoy.

Produced by Jay-Z and Will Smith the new version of Annie is “a modern re-imagining of a beloved musical…” Read the whole thing in the December issue of Movie Entertainment magazine on stands now!

Director X: Music video maker on learning to merge passion with the practical

directorxBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

Music video maker Julien Christian Lutz is better known as Director X.

“I got Julien from my mom and dad,” he writes on his website. X, he says, came from the streets.

One writer, however, suggests that the unusual name could stand for “Director X-tremely Good At Directing.”

The in-demand Canadian-born helmer has worked with everyone from Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj to Rihanna and Drake. The key to his success, he says, is leading “an artist’s life. You have to be as open as you can be to everything.

“You need to keep yourself inspired so you have to do whatever it is going to take to jog your creative brain, whether that be going to an art gallery or whatever.”

His strong visual sense — he uses graphics and letterboxing in tricky and interesting ways — is his trademark, but X says his most influential video came about “from a bad edit the client didn’t like. So I had to go in there and come up with something new.”

To keep the people paying the bills happy he devised a picture-in-picture look for the Fabolous featuring Nate Dogg video Can’t Deny It.

“It was really kind of cool and got taken on by hip hop in general,” he says. “It shook up the norm of what was happening in the genre. It became its own thing. After that, everyone did it. That was a really good moment where the ripples were felt from a piece of my work. I loved it. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. People inside the game know where it comes from, so any time someone copies you, it flows back to you.”

Today, whether it is a music video or a commercial shoot—he’s shot ads for Nintendo, Guinness and Burger King among many others — he’s learned to listen to the customer.

“Some people have the idea that the client is always wrong, and if they weren’t here everything would be better, but I have come to find that the client has an instinct.”

But he didn’t always feel that way.

“You know everything when you’re in your 20s, so you’re passionate about how much you know and passionate about how wrong they are. It’s definitely something that has to be learned. It would have been interesting if someone had come to me and explained that ahead of time, but I had to learn it like I had to learn it.”

The busy filmmaker has gleaned many lessons along the way, but his life and work boil down to one simple statement: “I’m here to make art and express it.”

Emerge Conference

On Tuesday, Director X will deliver the keynote speech at the Emerge Conference 2014, an initiative of the University of Guelph-Humber to encourage young professionals to embrace new technologies and networks.

X says he hopes to “give some of the knowledge I’ve gained over the years, in front of the camera, behind the camera and how that filters into life itself.” Other speakers include news anchor Christine Bentley, co-founder of BizMedia Dan Demsky, and Eric Alper, director of media relations and label acquisitions at eOne Music Canada.

$15 tickets for the day-long event are available at