Film Review: Sammy Davis, Jr.: I Gotta Be Me

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“Even if you win, you don’t win.”

That’s the lesson Sammy learned the day he got jumped by a racist fellow infantryman and won the fight. Nursing his well-deserved wounds, the man told Davis that he was “still a [n word].” That was the moment that Davis decided fighting wasn’t getting him anywhere. If he was going to change the hearts of white America, he had to try another tactic.

Samuel D. Pollard’s documentary about the career of Sammy Davis, Jr. is more than just a Hollywood biography. At a time when race relations have returned to the forefront of America’s consciousness, Sammy’s struggle rings true to a shameful degree. Despite his innumerable talents, he still faced plenty of discrimination on account of his skin color and later, his Jewish faith. But his unflappable spirit was also a beacon of hope for other marginalized people. As one interviewee puts it, his success, “made [African Americans] feel special and for a time feel equal”.

Read the rest at Hammer to Nail!

Film Review: Cassette

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Zach Taylor’s wistful documentary Cassette is an in-depth exploration of a recording format that lives on despite having been declared dead more than 20 years ago. It’s not just niche hipsters and nostalgic punk old timers that are keeping it alive.

It’s the concept of the “mix tape” in particular that endures. The mix-tape is an ideology. It’s the notion that we can curate what we hear and what we share with others. Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose work is undeniably cool but also inarguably mainstream, originally called his smash Broadway musical “the Hamilton Mix-Tape.”He later released a successful album of re-mixes and covers with that title. Taylor’s documentary is also a mix-tape. It’s a compilation of tributes to the format alongside more factual information about its history.

Read the rest at Hammer to Nail!

18 TV Stars Who Couldn’t Make It In Movies

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It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when films were considered infinitely more prestigious than television.

There was almost no crossover between TV stars and movie stars. When a television actor “graduated” to feature films, it was a massive achievement. If all went well, as it did for Bruce Willis and George Clooney, they would never again appear on the small screen. If a film star did show up on television, it was either stunt casting for a popular show (i.e. when Julia Roberts did an episode of Friends) or else it spelled certain doom for their career.

But then television got good. Shows like The Sopranos and The Wire were so impactful and cinematic that the lines between mediums began to blur. In this brave new world of streaming, there’s almost no difference between TV and movies besides running time. And yet, there are still some TV actors who can’t seem to cross over to celluloid.

It’s difficult to say why this happens. Whatever the reason, it means they won’t be getting those big paychecks and sweet summer jobs. Most of the actors on this list are still doing fine, and will probably pop up on our televisions indefinitely. You just won’t see them at a theater near you any time soon.

Read the list at Screenrant!

15 Celebrities Who Died In Freak Accidents

brandon-lee-the-crow-aaliyah-queen-of-the-damnedThe death of a beloved celebrity will always grip the hearts of fans, and send a ripple of despair across Facebook. But if these popular performers were getting on in years or were known to make precarious life choices, their passing is not necessarily a surprise.

What we are never prepared for are the freak accidents. One minute, they seem perfectly fine, and then suddenly, they’re just gone. Often times, they just got profoundly unlucky. Occasionally, they were being uncharacteristically reckless. Sometimes, there’s a bit of mystery surrounding the events and it’s entirely likely we will never know the whole story.

It’s a bittersweet easement of the pain for mourners to have someone to blame in these cases. But the guilty parties are not always clear-cut or even possible to identify. As awful as it is to think about, sometimes it’s just pure happenstance that prematurely ends the lives and careers of our adored entertainers.

Whatever series of unfortunate events that led to the shocking demise of these 15 celebrities, they all have one thing in common: their stars were snuffed out far too soon and they are sorely missed. Be careful out there, friends.

Read the list at Screenrant!

18 Actors You Didn’t Know Overcame Learning Disabilities

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It often seems like the stars lead carefree lives, but they’re more susceptible to human foibles than you might think. Despite the associated shame, learning disabilities are an extremely common occurrence all over the world, and Hollywood is no exception. A reported 2.4 million students have been diagnosed with some form of learning disability.

This list of A-List actors is but a handful of the stars that refused to let a learning disability keep them from realizing their dreams. Among the conditions represented here are Dyslexia (affecting reading, writing, and information processing), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (inhibiting focus and behavior control), and Dyspraxia (causing coordination and language problems).

Despite their prevalence, learning disabilities can feel insurmountable. The lack of support can cause feelings of inadequacy, and hopelessness. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With the help of organizations, tutors, and sometimes in-school resources, LD children can become thriving adults.

In fact, many of these actors credit their brain chemistry for their success. Some even refer to their diagnoses as “a gift”. Perhaps these so-called disabilities only seem that way because society, and particularly the education system, isn’t set up to deal with the brains of these special thinkers.

Read the list at Screenrant!