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Cinema Scoop

Whitney Houston set to Sparkle

     Greetings movie lovers, it's time to take a look at what the cinema has to offer us this weekend.

     Sparkle

Musical prodigy, Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) struggles to become a star while overcoming issues that are tearing her family apart. From an affluent Detroit area and daughter to a single mother (Whitney Houston), she tries to balance a new romance with music manager, Stix (Derek Luke) while dealing with the unexpected challenges her new life will bring as she and her two sisters (Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter) strive to become a dynamic singing group during the Motown-era.

     My Take

The main selling point of this film is that it marks the final performance of legendary singer Whitney Houston, who died only three months after filming was complete. Sparkle is a remake of the little seen 1976 film of the same name, which starred Irene Cara and Philip Michael Thomas, and was centered on three singing sisters from Harlem who form a girl group in the late 1950's. The updated version now takes place in Detroit, Michigan in the 1960's during the Motown era and is said to be inspired by the classic singing group, The Supremes. Jordin Sparks - best known for being the youngest winner in American Idol history when she captured the crown in season 6 - makes her big screen debut playing the title role. Look, I'm going to be honest when I say that this film is definitely not on my radar of must see film events since it reminds me a little bit of Dreamgirls (which I also haven't seen by the way) and looks a tad too melodramatic for my tastes. Even though I've never been a fan of Whitney Houston's style of singing (you know, all the trillering and vocal gymnastics), I will certainly acknowledge her immense talent and place in music history. I suppose that the mere fact that this is the last thing we have of her will be enough to spark curiosity in some to want to see this film. I do really enjoy Motown music however, so hopefully it will be far more entertaining than I am giving it credit for. I think I'll let someone else be the judge of that though, just in case.

     The Words

The Words follows a young writer who finally achieves long sought after literary success after publishing the next great American novel. There's only one catch - he didn't write it. As the past comes back to haunt him and his literary star continues to rise, he is forced to confront the steep price that must be paid for stealing another man's work, and for placing ambition and success above all else.

     My Take

So from what I can tell by watching the trailer for this film, it's a romantic drama that's being framed as sort of a thriller dealing with plagiarism. While that idea doesn't seem overly compelling, the cast that they've assembled for this picture certainly makes you stand up and notice. It features Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Dennis Quaid, Jeremy Irons, John Hannah, Olivia Wilde and J.K. Simmons. Hopefully this talented cast will elevate material that looks, quite frankly, somewhat mundane. We've seen numerous films over the years about writers and their problems and I hope The Words contains something substantive in it to make it stand out and maybe become a sleeper hit. We'll see!

     Movie Trivia and Tidbits

Whitney Houston was so influenced by the original version of Sparkle as a girl that she once went to see it every day for a week when she was a teenager. It apparently helped plant the dream in her to become a singer. By the mid nineties, when she had her own production company, she secured the rights to a remake of the film and had intended to cast R&B singer Aaliyah in the lead role as Sparkle, but due to Aaliyah's untimely death in August 2001, before the film went into production plans to remake the film were put on hold indefinitely.

Whitney's powerful rendition of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You", from The Bodyguard (1992), was ranked #65 on the American Film Institute's list of "The 100 Years of The Greatest Songs" and it's also the best selling single by a female artist of all time, with world sales of nearly nine million copies. Funny enough though it became the topic of the NBC news show "Now" because it was so overplayed and people were sick of it. It was the first song ever to be the topic on a news show for being too overplayed.

The Words was filmed in Montreal in part because it could pass as both Paris and New York, the primary settings the film takes place in.



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