Although it has nearly reached the end of its run in theaters, Hustle & Flow is still generating a great deal of press, some of it gratuitously negative. The kinder commentary suggests that Hustle failed to find the audience it deserved, while a recent article in L.A. Weekly slammed the film with over-the-top accusations of overt racism. Rather than being upset, Craig Brewer is amazed that his indie film with the blockbuster reputation is still being talked about at all.
"Here's the thing," Brewer says from his secluded perch at a popular downtown nightclub. "We wanted Hustle to do well, but realistically we never expected it to even crack the top 10." According to Brewer, by opening at number seven, Hustle exceeded expectations in its first week. If Hustle's run seems like a disappointment to anyone, it's a result of the media hype surrounding the strangely controversial film's opening.
Brewer's latest project, Black Snake Moan, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci, and Justin Timberlake, starts shooting this week, and with the new film comes a brand-new controversy. Black Snake Moan already has taken a pounding from local radio and TV news personalities because the film crew's occupation of The Pyramid has made it impossible to use the building as a shelter for hurricane evacuees. The fuss, which has focused on The Pyramid, now under contractual obligations to Paramount, glosses over other available venues and the fact that relief workers would prefer not to cram vast numbers of people into one space. The controversy is -- to hear Brewer tell it -- almost entirely media-generated.
"I have people stopping me all over the place and telling me I should let them use The Pyramid," Brewer says. "I tell them, if they really need The Pyramid, my sets are collapsible." Black Snake Moan will continue shooting as scheduled. -- Chris Davis
Howard Hawks at Cannon Center
Last year's highly unlikely screening of films from British director/writer team Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts might have been the most extravagant and exciting local film event, well, ever.
Now Cinema Memphis executive director Malcolm Pratt might top that excitement with the second installment of the event, honoring American director Howard Hawks, perhaps the greatest of the classic Hollywood filmmakers.
Cinema Memphis will screen seven of Hawks' films, including Rio Bravo and Red River and featuring performers such as Cary Grant, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, and Lauren Bacall, Friday, October 7th, through Sunday, October 9th, at the Cannon Center. Friday and Saturday screenings will be introduced by renowned critic and historian David Thomson, Hawks champion and author of the essential The New Biographical Dictionary of Film. Thomson also will give a free lecture at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 6th, at St. Mary's Episcopal School.
Single film tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Full retrospective passes are $35. Advance tickets are on sale now at Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Parallax Movies, Black Lodge Video, Midtown Video, Carabella's, the Cannon Center box office, and all Ticket Master outlets. See CinemaMemphis.org for more information. -- Chris Herrington