Clemency

Release Date:  12/27/19; In Theaters (Original Release: 1/27/19 Sundance Film Festival)
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  NR
Director:  Chinonye Chukwu
Studio(s):   ACE Pictures Entertainment, Big Indie Pictures
Running Time:  113 mins.

Cast:  Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Richard Schiff, Wendell Pierce, Richard Gunn, Danielle Brooks.

Story:   How do you salvage your marriage when you are struggling to salvage your soul, your sense of self, and your sense of right and wrong? Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard) is a prison warden who, over the years, has been drifting away from her husband while dutifully carrying out executions in a maximum security prison. When she strikes up a unique bond with death-row inmate Anthony Woods (Aldis Hodge), a layer of emotional skin is peeled back, forcing Bernadine to confront the complex—and often contradictory—relationship between good intentions, unrequited desires, and what it means to be sanctioned to kill.  Source:  Sundance.org.

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What Men Want

Release Date:  2/8/19; In Theaters
Genre:  Comedy
Rating:  Unknown
Director:  Adam Shankman
Studio(s):   Will Packer Productions, Paramount Pictures
Running time:  Unknown
Cast:  Taraji P. Henson, Tracy Morgan, Aldis Hodge, Tamala Jones, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Max Greenfield

Story:   Gender swapped remake of the film What Women Want which was released in 2000 and earned 375 million worldwide.  The remake stars Taraji P. Henson as a female sports agent who has been constantly boxed out by her male colleagues.  However, when she gains the power to hear men’s thoughts, she is able to shift the paradigm to her advantage as she races to sign the NBA’s next superstar.  Source:  Flickeringmyth

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Brian Banks

Release Date: 8/9/19; In Theaters (Original Release Year: 2018)
Genre: Drama/Biography
Rating:  PG-13
Director:  Tom Shadyac
Studio(s):  ShivHans Pictures, Gidden Media
Running Time: 100 mins.

Cast:  Aldis Hodge (Brian Banks), Melanie Liburd (Karina), Greg Kinnear (Justin Brooks), Xosha Roquemore (Kennisha Rice),Tiffany Dupont, (Alissa Bjerkhoel), Sherri Shepherd (Leomia), Dorian Missick (Mick Randolph), Morgan Freeman (uncredited).

Story:  Brian Banks was a promising football player at a Long Beach, California, high school when he met a female student in a secluded hallway for a rendezvous. Their encounter never went very far, but she charged him with rape, and he was arrested. His lawyer persuaded him to accept a plea deal, but he was shocked to receive a six-year prison term, followed by the requirement to register as a sex offender and wear a monitoring device for the length of his parole. Since this drastically limited his employment opportunities and also scotched his dreams of a pro football career, Banks decided to approach attorney Justin Brooks of the California Innocence Project to clear his name. In the film, Brooks informs Banks that he will need new evidence to persuade the courts to reopen the case. This proves to be challenging, but when the woman who accused him contacts him on social media, he realizes that he may be able to persuade her to revise or recant her original testimony.

Although some of these events may sound improbable, most of them are true (though the name of the female accuser has been changed). Banks was eventually exonerated and even managed to fulfill his dream of playing pro football, becoming the oldest player ever to join the NFL. No doubt the film takes a few liberties with history, but the important point is that it plays convincingly and compellingly.  Source:  The Hollywood Reporter.

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Update 11/21/17 – Sherri Shepherd, actress and Emmy-Award winning former co-host of ABC’s The View, has joined Aldis Hodge and Greg Kinnear to co-star the biopic Brian Banks which is being directed by Tom Shadyac. The biopic tells the story of Banks (Hodge), an All-American high school football player committed to USC by his junior year whose life was upended in 2002 when he was falsely accused of rape. Despite maintaining his innocence, Banks was railroaded through the system and sentenced to a decade of prison and parole.

With the help of the California Innocence Project, spearheaded by Justin Brooks (Kinnear), the criminal defense attorney and CIP co-founder, Banks’ conviction was overturned in 2012. He briefly played with the Atlanta Falcons in the 2013 preseason. Shepherd will portray Banks’ mother, Leomia, who was the strength that helped her son get through his traumatic trial.  Source:  Deadline.

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Drama recounting the true story of the wrongful imprisonment and exoneration of the one-time high school football prodigy.  Aldis Hodge stars as the titular football player in the Tom Shadyac film which will also feature Tiffany Dupont and Greg Kinnear.  The project was originally incubated through Amy Baer’s development fund Gidden Media, and Baer will produce alongside Shivani Rawat and Monica Levinson. Banks, Justin Brooks and Neil Strum are executive producers.

Brian Banks centers on the titular high-school football player who was committed to USC by his junior year. His life was upended in 2002 when falsely accused of rape. Despite maintaining his innocence, he was railroaded through the system and sentenced to a decade of prison and parole. With the help of the California Innocence Project, his conviction was overturned in 2012 and he achieved his NFL dream with the Atlanta Falcons’ preseason squad in 2013.  Source:  The Hollywood Reporter.