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SOLOMON KING: Deaf Crocodile Releases Trailer For New Restoration of Long-Lost Independent Black Crime Film

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SOLOMON KING: Deaf Crocodile Releases Trailer For New Restoration of Long-Lost Independent Black Crime Film

Deaf Crocodile released a trailer for their restoration of the long-lost black crime film, Solomon King. The wholly independant flick was the work of writer/director/actor/producer/ Sal Watts way back in 1973/74. At the beginning of the year Deaf Crocodile formally announced they had found the long-lost footage and restoration had begun.

 

Solomon King is ready for public consumption and the first audience that will get to experience it will be at Fantastic Fest next month. From the looks of the trailer this will be a treat for those attending the festival and all audiences thereafter. Check it out below. 

 

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Los Angeles-based arthouse genre label Deaf Crocodile is thrilled to release a new trailer of their long-awaited restoration of the lost, independently financed Black action crime film SOLOMON KING (1974), from writer/director/actor/producer/ Sal Watts. Recently announced as a selection of the 2022 Fantastic Fest, the restored film will world premiere there next month before continuing on to further festivals around the globe and distribution from Deaf Crocodile beginning in late 2022. 

 

Shot in Oakland, CA in 1973 with a cast of mostly non-professional actors, SOLOMON KING is a remarkable capsule of its time with a fantastic Soul-Funk soundtrack and incredible clothes from Watts’ own Mr. Sal’s Fashion Stores. The film has been restored with the cooperation of the filmmaker’s widow, Belinda Burton-Watts (who appears in the film), and utilizing one of the only surviving complete prints from the UCLA Film & TV Archive, as well as original soundtrack elements (which had been stored in Burton-Watts’ closet for several decades).

 

Deaf Crocodile is currently holding a Kickstarter campaign to help underwrite the significant restoration costs on the film, which include extensive picture and color grade restoration and repairs to the audio.

 

“I had been praying that my husband’s accomplishments would not go unnoticed but as the saying goes justice delayed is not always justice denied,” comments Belinda Burton-Watts. “Sal would be so pleased that Dennis Bartok and Craig Rogers of Deaf Crocodile reached out to his family and explored the possibility of restoring this piece of Black history. This film will evoke a nostalgic view of life in the 1970s when so much was happening in the Black community and the world.  Oakland, California is no stranger to its share of controversy and unrest. Sal was an extraordinary man who remained humble throughout his life and just wanted equality for all. He loved all people and wanted to live in a world that treated people fairly. He would be grateful to know that his film will see the light of day once more. Much like Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem” where he asks, “What happens to a dream deferred?”, we will have an opportunity to see just that. I choose to believe that like a mustard seed, the dream grows and grows. Through Dennis and Craig’s efforts, researching the possibilities of restoring this obscure film and coming up with a solution, another generation of young people will be able to see one Black man’s vision. My husband’s vision. I am convinced that Dennis and Craig reaching out to me was a case of divine intervention.”

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“Don’t you suckers know the days of Uncle Remus and Old Black Joe are gone?” barks ex-CIA operative/ex-Green Beret/nightclub owner Solomon King to a group of Black gang members at the Sugar Hill Club, in director/writer/actor Sal Watts’ long-lost Black urban crime/action film. In the vein of SHAFT, the film stars Watts as an African American version of James Bond/Matt Helm, seducing beautiful nightclub singers and beating the crap out of the henchmen of an oil-obsessed Middle Eastern ruler. Produced on a shoestring budget and shot on location in many of the businesses Watts owned, the film is a priceless document of early Seventies Black culture, music and fashion in Oakland – and a powerful metaphor for Black empowerment, with Solomon turning the tables on every duplicitous Establishment character he encounters. “You can’t do a damn thing without the motherf**in’ white man calling the shots,” he observes at one point. 

 

Sal Watts’ personal story is even more fascinating: emerging from grinding poverty and racism in Mississippi, he went on to become a filmmaker and actor, record label owner, host of TV dance program “Soul Is,” fashion store owner and restaurateur in the 1970s, before serving time in federal prison on tax charges and dying in 2003.   

 

SOLOMON KING, 1974, Sal/Wa Prod., 85 min. Dirs. Jack Bomay and Sal Watts. With “Little Jamie” Watts, Claudio Russo, Samaki Bennett, Tito Fuentes, Belinda B. Burton.  

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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