Friday Night Lights

  • Directors: Peter Berg
  • Producers: Brian Grazer
  • Writers: H G Bissinger, Peter Berg, David Aaron Cohen
  • Genres: Action, Drama, Sport
  • Actors: Billy Bob Thornton, Lucas Black, Garrett Hedlund, Derek Luke, Jay Hernandez, Tim McGraw

Bissinger followed the team for the entire 1988 season, which culminated in a loss in the State semi-finals against Carter High School from Dallas, who eventually went on to win the championship game but would have their title stripped for playing an ineligible player. However, the book also deals with — or alludes to — a number of secondary political and social issues existing in Odessa, all of which share ties to the Permian Panthers football team. These include socioeconomic disparity; racism; segregation (and desegregation); and poverty.

The coach, Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton), is constantly on the hot seat. Tied into the successes and failure of the coach and the team in general are the conflicts the players struggle with on and off the gridiron. The coach overuses his star player, running back James “Boobie” Miles (Derek Luke), who gets seriously injured (Miles tore his ACL, missed the playoffs, and had a limp for the rest of his life). When this happens, sports radios are flooded with calls for his resignation. Miles’ once-arrogant attitude vanishes as he sees his once promising chance of playing big-time college football disappear and starts to question his future after he notices his not-so promising academic standing. Quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black) struggles with being able to play consistently, and his inability to make decisions for himself. Fullback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund) has a rocky relationship with his father (Tim McGraw), who won a state championship at Permian and carries on a feud with his son for not performing on the level he’d like to see, despite the fact that Don doesn’t do anything to light his father’s temper. Third-string running back Chris Comer (Lee Thompson Young), who takes the spot of Miles after his injury, attempts to get rid of his fear of being hit and getting injured, especially when the player who last occupied his spot suffered a season ending injury. His obsession with fame and recognition also comes at a high price that he is at first not ready to play. Safety Brian Chavez (Jay Hernandez) is easily the smartest player on the team, and the most confident in his future after high school football. One of the themes of the movie depicts the coach as a father-type figure for the players.

Coach Gaines triumphs and struggles with winning football games and connecting with his players a number of times during their tremulous season. His job depends on the Panthers making the playoffs, and his team is in a three-way tie with two other teams at the end of the regular season. Under Texas rules for ties, the tiebreaker is a coin-toss. In an effort to prevent a riot, the location of the coin-toss is kept under wraps. Permian gets a spot. They make it to the finals, where they narrowly lose to a powerhouse Dallas high school team.The movie ends with the coach removing the departing seniors from the depth chart on his wall. Notably, the depth chart has “Case” at quarterback. This refers to Permian’s real-life backup quarterback in 1988, Stoney Case, who would go on to lead Permian, along with Chris Comer, to the 5A state title the following year, and still later made it to the NFL. The final scene consists of Winchell throwing a football to a bunch of pee-wees playing pick-up football before leaving with Billingsley and Chavez.

Madea Goes to Jail

  • Directors: Tyler Perry
  • Producers: Tyler Perry, Reuben Cannon
  • Writers: Tyler Perry
  • Genres: Comedy, Crime, Drama
  • Actors: Tyler Perry, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Derek Luke, Robin Coleman, Jackson Walker, Drew Sidora, David Mann, Tamela J Mann, Sofia Vergara

After a high-speed freeway chase (as shown at the end of Perry’s previous film Meet the Browns) puts Madea (Tyler Perry) in front of the judge (Mablean Ephriam), her reprieve is short-lived when she goes to the store and destroys a woman’s car after she cuts in front of her. Judge Mathis (as himself) gives her a sentence of five years. A gleeful Joe (Perry) couldn’t be happier at Madea’s misfortune. But Madea’s eccentric friend Mr. Brown and their illegitimate daughter Cora (David and Tamela Mann) rally behind her with the help of Joe’s lawyer son Brian (Perry) who is tired of Madea and Joe getting into trouble, lending their special “country” brand of support.

Meanwhile, (DeKalb County, Georgia) assistant district attorney Joshua Hardaway (Derek Luke) is on the fast track to career success. But Hardaway lands a case too personal to handle – defending a young prostitute and former drug addict Candace Washington (Keshia Knight Pulliam), whom he is apparently already acquainted with – and asks his fiancée and fellow ADA Linda Davis (Ion Overman) to fill in on his behalf. After the trial, Joshua, who has paid Candace’s bail, meets with a church activist friend of his Ellen (Viola Davis), who tries to help a wary Candace, who seems somewhat bitter and angry about her circumstances, but determined to be a survivor. Joshua and Candace talk briefly over lunch, and it is implied that the two had some past dealings with one another as college students.

Because of the now-revealed news of Linda’s tampering with client files, there is a public outcry and a protest movement gains momentum to set Madea and the others free. Candace, Madea and some other women that Linda represented have their convictions overturned and are released. Madea goes home with Brown, Cora, and Bryan, and Candace goes home with Joshua.

Notorious

  • Directors: George Tillman Jr
  • Producers: Wayne Barrow, Edward Bates, Sean Combs, Trish Hofmann, George Paaswell, Mark Pitts, Robert Teitel, Voletta Wallace
  • Writers: Reggie Rock Bythewood, Cheo Hodari Coker
  • Genres: Biography, Drama, Music
  • Actors: Jamal Woolard, Angela Bassett, Derek Luke, Anthony Mackie, Naturi Naughton, Antonique Smith, Marc John Jefferies, Julia Pace Mitchell, Christopher CJ Wallace Jr

The film opens at a party in Los Angeles in March 1997. Christopher Wallace / Biggie Smalls / The Notorious B.I.G. (Jamal Woolard) is seen sitting at his chair smoking a cigar. People, including Faith Evans (Antonique Smith) and Sean Combs (Derek Luke), move to the music on the dance floor. Moments later, Biggie, Combs, and friends are driving away from the party. They stop at a red light, while a friend, Lil’ Cease, (Marc John Jefferies) is flirting with women outside. A black Chevrolet Impala pulls up and someone inside fires a single shot at Biggie.

The film then flashes back to Biggie’s early childhood in 1984, recounting his tough upbringing in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn. Biggie (Christopher “CJ” Wallace, Jr.) writes several rap songs, enduring the ridicule of some classmates. Biggie then starts selling drugs at the height of the crack epidemic. In 1990, after winning an important rap battle and meeting Lil’ Kim (Naturi Naughton) for the first time, Biggie’s mother, Voletta (Angela Bassett), throws him out of the house after discovering his involvement with drugs.

In 1992, after spending two years in prison, he goes to see his girlfriend Jan (Julia Pace Mitchell), and their new daughter, T’yanna (Taylor Dior). After reconciling with his mother, he goes to find D-Roc and Lil’ Cease and records a demo called “Microphone Murderer.”

Biggie is shot and killed moments after calling Lil’ Kim to apologize and to set up a meeting with her. A few days later Voletta, Combs, Lil’ Cease, D-Roc, Lil’ Kim, Faith and others all grieve over the death of Biggie at the funeral.